Daniel W. Thompson
IT ROLLED under my foot at work, a broken peanut, I thought. I looked down to see a dull, gold sphere. A stud earring. A tiny gold ball married to a long post like a mouse’s lollipop. I picked it up and rolled the cloudy gold in my fingers. I sent an email to the office asking if anyone had lost one small gold earring but all replied no. Then I tried sticking it in my left ear lobe but the post wasn’t sharp enough. I took a butter knife from the break room and tried sharpening the post point but couldn’t sharpen it enough. That evening I asked Angela if it was hers. She said no and went back to watching a documentary about losing a child—predeceased they called it.
Ah ha, I thought. Surely there’s something in our basement I can use to sharpen the post. But I found only a box cutter. While trying to sharpen the post, I slipped the box cutter into my palm thicker and deeper than a paper cut. Took three band-aids to cover the red crescent.
The next morning I took the earring to the jeweler where I’d purchased Angela’s engagement ring. I asked if he would like to buy the earring. He said no. I told him I’d keep it then, but could he sharpen the post. He said why not. He took the earring to a back room, and when he returned, the post point was as sharp as the box cutter. It felt like a hot needle in my hand, blackened at the tip, like the sewing needle my mom used for splinters. Relieved, I ran to my car, and while looking in the rearview mirror, I pushed the earring through my left earlobe. It popped like a pimple.
On the drive home I kept turning in the mirror to see the gold shimmer against my purple, swollen ear. Finally. But then I ran into the back of a blue Honda waiting at a stoplight. The impact crushed my chin against the steering wheel. With the hood crumpled and steam and smoke rising from beneath the car, I searched for the earring. My chin and ear were bleeding and the inside of my head buzzed like a chainsaw.
The driver of the Honda knocked on my window and I told him to wait one second. I’m looking for something. Have you seen her? I asked. Is she out there? Maybe she spiraled out the shattered window. I could hear the driver dialing 911 as I tried using one of the palm band-aids for my chin. I looked along the seat and among the shards of blue glass now dotted in droplets of blood. I even felt for her in my hair, which was wet.
Then I thought to roll my foot around. Maybe she would reappear beneath. But my legs were wedged under the broken steering wheel.
The police arrived and one of them asked how I cut my ear. Was it the broken glass?
No, I said. It was this tiny gold earring. Please, help me find her.
Daniel W. Thompson is an urban planner in Richmond, VA, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming at publications like Bartleby Snopes, decomP, Literary Orphans, Jersey Devil Press, and Cleaver Magazine.