Lost and Found, Part One

She was forever dropping things. Pens, spare change, grapes. Her phone's most important characteristic was durability; she'd dropped it so many times that her boyfriend called it "the lemming." She blamed it on her fingernails, which grew at an unnaturally fast rate. Her limbs acted as spokes of a great wheel, which made her a confident runner, but caused minor accidents on a regular basis.

"I think I just have an internal magnetic pull," she once joked to her neighbor, who gasped after she had tripped going up the stairs to her apartment. "My body wants to stay nice and close to Earth."

Perhaps it was Ariel's sympathy for fellow klutzes that gave her a keen eye for dropped items. Every day, when walking down the hill to the subway, she stumbled (quite literally) across some forgotten object. A pony-shaped barrette. A grocery list written in grandmotherly cursive. A small baggie full of laundry change. And once, an oversized key labeled "Property of--." The last few letters had been rubbed clean. Ariel turned the key over in her hands, looked once up and down the street for any signs of keyless wanderers. She held it up to the light, admired its curlicued edges and almost gothic charm. She dropped it once on the sidewalk, and then returned it safely to the deep pockets of her jeans. It was foggy day in early September, and Ariel was on her way to the local radio station, where she volunteered once a week. She resumed her walk, aware of the cold weight of the brass against her thigh.