Her neck was bare. Her neck was not supposed to be bare. Her neck was supposed to have a necklace. There was a necklace right there!
She took several deep breaths and stared at her reflection in disbelief. She lost it. This made no sense. She didn’t lose things. She still had a beaded bracelet that she made in first grade! But the truth was staring right at her-or rather, not at her.
It was a simple necklace: thin silver chain and heart-shaped with small diamonds. It wasn’t expensive, but it was the first gift her mother had given her. Her mother wasn’t the lovey-dovey, gift-giving type. Her mother’s form of love was a roof over their heads and three meals, every day.
The necklace was a peace offering after their huge fight.
“Those are real diamonds, you know,” her mother had said, gesturing to the small stones that caught the light. “It suits you.”
That was two days ago, and she had worn the necklace ever since. She couldn’t even pinpoint the moment the necklace fell off. She hadn’t even realized it was gone.
This is what you get for tugging at it all the time. You just couldn’t leave it alone. She thought to herself and sighed. What am I going to tell mom?
Dear Girl Who Lost Her Heart-Shaped Necklace,
Hi. I’m not a stalker. Odd way to start a letter, I know, but I thought that was an important point to get across. Okay. Moving on.
You dropped your necklace yesterday at the coffee shop with the giant statue of a cup of coffee on the roof. I’m pretty sure there’s only one of those for miles, and that’s the best way I can describe the place because I have no idea what it’s actually called. I’ve always referred to it as the coffee shop with the giant cup of coffee on the roof so…yeah.
Anyway, you came in yesterday and you caught my interest because you ordered a milk tea with a dollop of whipped cream. Who goes into a coffee shop with a giant cup on the roof that says COFFEE in big block letters…and orders milk tea with a dollop of whipped cream? Apparently, you do. Don’t be offended, I’m not making fun of you! I just thought that was odd. But in a good way.
So, I was watching you on the line (in a strictly non-stalker way, I swear) and I noticed that you kept playing with your necklace. I started wondering if you were worried about something, and if the necklace was a gift, and if you were the kind of person who went into a bakery and buys, well, something other than bread.
I saw the necklace fall after you picked up your milk tea and I thought you would notice and come back for it, but you didn’t. So I picked up your necklace and…um…didn’t think further than that. Which leads me finally to this letter.
I’d like to return your necklace, and if it’s okay with you, maybe buy you a cup of milk tea? Or you can just stop by and pick up your necklace, that’s cool too. I’m usually in the coffee shop around noon. I’ll be the one wearing a dog tag necklace and drinking a large iced coffee.
Sincerely, Boy Who Found Your Heart-Shaped Necklace
She dug through the cardboard box that passed for the Lost and Found bin at the coffee shop. There was an empty mug of what used to be milk tea on the table in front of her, and she blew her hair out of her face in exasperation. She should have known better than to take some letter pinned on the coffee shop’s bulletin board seriously. Be here at noon, yeah right.
She came, just in case there really was someone wearing a dog tag necklace drinking iced coffee, waiting to return her necklace to her, but a quick scan earlier around the coffee shop told her otherwise. Now, she was sitting in one of the comfy booths, digging through a cardboard box, hoping that her necklace somehow ended up here.
She pulled out a tattered notebook. Definitely not her necklace. She placed it on the table among all the pens, the odd water bottle, and other random things she had taken out of the box.
She reached in again and touched something sticky. Jerking her hand out, she peered in warily. An old, frayed wallet. With a weird brown stain on it. That she just touched. Wonderful.
She sighed and slumped back on the booth. That wallet was the last thing in the box. She should probably tell her mom tonight that she lost the necklace. Just come right out and say-
“Hi, are you looking for this?” A heart-shaped pendant dangled in front of her, swinging from a thin silver chain.
She blinked. Then, she jolted from her seat and grabbed the necklace so fast, she hadn’t even realized she was doing it until it was in her hand.
“Whoa, okay, I guess that’s a yes.”
She leaned back at the sound of the voice and saw a black dog tag hanging from a thick silver chain. Which was hanging from a neck, which was attached to a head. Huh. So, he did exist.
As she stared at him, she was vaguely aware that he was talking to her.
“Hi…thank you for the necklace. Returning it, I mean.”
He smiled. “You’re welcome. Sorry I’m a little late.” He picked up her empty mug. “Can I buy you that milk tea?”
She nodded. “Thanks…again.”
He walked to the counter, as she refastened the necklace around her neck. This time, she wouldn’t tug at it so much.
He placed the mug of hot tea in front of her, the dollops of whipped cream buoyed on the surface, and leaned across their kitchen counter. The dog tag on his necklace clanged gently against his own mug of iced coffee.
“How long do you think before she notices?”
“I think it’s just cruel you let her leave without telling her the necklace dropped.”
“Well, I think it’s ridiculous that she didn’t even feel the necklace falling. Like mother, like daughter.” He raised an eyebrow at her over his drink.
She took a sip out of her tea in response. The necklace had first fallen years ago, and it had taken an odd trio of a letter, a stranger, and a coffee shop to find its way back to her. But it found its way back, and like many other lost things, it came back in a way she did not expect at all.
She smiled at the once-stranger, now chuckling at the thought of their daughter, who was probably worried that she lost the necklace. She glanced at the heart-shaped pendant wrapped in a thin silver chain, resting on top of a folded piece of paper. Unexpected, indeed.
© Jade M. Wong 2016
Originally written a couple years ago, for a series of Writing 101 prompts. Also originally in separate posts for separate prompts.
Credit for the beautiful photo goes to Padurariu Alexandru.