I was asked to write a piece centered around an object from my past that I had lost and that now held some significance to me. Unlike a lot of people who cherish an old teddy bear forgotten in the dusty recesses of the garage or a specific mobile phone that lost them contact with the wider world for a whole WEEK (or something equally traumatic), I couldn’t think of a single thing that I had accidentally lost.
But this made me ask the question: Why does something ‘lost’ mean something that you misplaced and, by mere coincidence, cannot find again? Can’t you lose something on purpose? Have YOU ever ‘lost’ something in order to bury or hide a part of you that you can no longer face?
This led me to write the following short creative non-fiction piece, exploring the realms of objects that are lost for a reason and by the possessor’s own hand.
* * *
The rusty metal beneath my clenched fingers is icy to the touch, but I cling on to the pain, sharp and distinct. Sea specks freckle my defiant face, upturned to the call of gulls sweeping high above me. It would be magnificent to fly free of this earth, to coast on a current of air and bridge the gap between the heavens and earth, skies and sea.
My heavy leaden feet root me to concrete.
In the bitter air, my lips are sticky, wisps of hair whipping around my head and clinging to them stubbornly. This annoys me but I do not reach up to tuck them away. As has become my custom, I let it happen to me without objection. I have no power here.
Though, looking out at the wild ocean, a calm settles over me. Churning masses of grey rear up to reach their brother clouds before crashing back down again in a swirl of dirty green and ominous teal. The barrel chest of a mighty boulder bears a cracked and bleeding stance in the face of oncoming surges, battering them back with a determined cascade of salt and spray. It’s the role model I need to give me the courage to finally glance down at what I grasp.
In my palm a silver chain cuts into my skin, wrinkled and knotted, snaking an intricate history to the delicate silver pendant. Some of the shine has ebbed away, leaving in its wake a dull sheen, a foamy echo of its former brilliance. A strip of silver has peeled from the facade, revealing an ugly copper graze as a scar unavoidable and permanent. The sight no longer wrenches at my gut; no more does it burn wet tracks down my cheeks. Instead it hardens me. It turns to stone what once would beat fiercely with life, and scolds away a carefree embrace.
The necklace is released from my arm like a spring and soars through the air. Time slows as it twists and squirms down towards its fate. No light glints from the metal, no screams of dismay reverberate down the pier as it sinks into the inky depths. But a flutter of my heart sends blood pumping through my veins with a renewed vigour, and, for the first time in months, salt water of my very own drips from my spidery lashes.