Somehow, she always came back to that first pair, the ones he’d bought her at a street fair so many years ago. Two simple gold circles chosen hastily from a display. They weren’t meant to last, Just something to mark the day, which she would have forgotten, but didn’t, because of the silly pair of ten dollar earrings.

Over the years, she’d let them sink to the bottom of the jewelry box many times, those little pieces of nothing. But you know how it is, she’d fish them out after a week or two; there’s no denying they were comfortable. My old standbys, she called them when he’d point out she was wearing them again. Hey, he’d say. I resemble that remark.

Thinking back, she hadn’t wanted him to buy the earrings that day, hadn’t much wanted to go out with him. He didn’t seem trustable. He flirted too much. With her. With other girls. Damn, he flirted with the woman who sold them the earrings. But he’d insisted and she thought, Why not? What have I got to lose?

Those earring were always getting lost, more times than she could count. How could they not? Such tiny things, barely visible on end. Sometimes, she’d lift a hand to her hair and feel for them, and discover one was gone. And she’d feel an odd sense of relief, maybe a little regret, but mostly relief. Good, she’d think, I’m rid of them. And she’d go about her day, a little sadder but a little stronger too.

Then, what do you know?, she’d suddenly find it again. Shining up from the weave of the carpet or caught between a sweater’s knitted rows or buried deep within some magazine’s glossy pages. Once, a woman in a movie theater
leaned over from the seat behind them, said it had fallen right into her lap.

Yeah, they kept getting lost, kept getting found, unexpectedly, when she’d nearly quit. And she couldn’t help that leap of her heart when one would re-appear. That double thud in spite of herself.

She wondered if this was love then, a series of mislaid moments. Something that got lost and then found. And she remembered the time he pulled one of the earrings from the curved trap of the drain, its small circumference pinched tight between his thumb and forefinger. Then grinned up at her with his old sly smile.

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