lost & found
Mina Chao | Art by Victoria Dai
This is how it all begins. You’re going on a walk on a summer evening. Your pinky is linked with hers, arms swinging as you skip across the road. There’s a red heart-shaped lock attached to the chain links of the bike fence, cursive in sharpie on its face. It’ll be here forever, she had said when she snapped the lock shut, for as long as our love lives. But it’s just another lock on a fence that’s rusting over, a love that lasts a second in the hour of the universe’s existence.
ALL LOCKS TO BE REMOVED FROM FENCE EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY FOR NEW FENCE
INSTALLATION. LOCKS REMAINING ON FENCE BY MARCH 1ST WILL BE CUT.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.
ISSUED BY CITY COUNCIL, BOARD OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
perhaps children were comparable to raccoons. curious, grouchy, sometimes feral, but most of all peculiarly interested in all things shiny. perhaps she was no different than a raccoon, but any sparkly heart-shaped thing in the reef was worth examining, and sometimes, worth taking. papa would get mad at seeing such a thing in her possession, but he would never get mad if he never knew it existed. in fits of giggles, she slipped the heart
under her swimsuit sleeves, the cold metal pressed to her skin, and swam to the surface. there’s a small wooden box back at home where she keeps all her shiny things: a foil candy wrapper, a popped-out glasses lens, a plastic rhinestone, a crushed jingle bell. the heart-shaped lock is the newest addition, clumsily crammed in. a scratch of silver rips open the scarlet red face of the lock. she doesn’t cry over it. she doesn’t even know it’s there. here’s where the raccoon and the child differ: where the raccoon remembers, the child does not.
I looked through the attic today, and I couldn’t find anything more than several square feet of dust and a splintering wooden box. I thought that it would have what I wanted, but it may as well have been a box of trash. Except, there was a lock inside the box that had Mom’s initials on it. At least, I think those were her initials. Kyra thinks I should have kept it since Mom didn’t leave any of her belongings for me in the will. Whatever. It’s just a piece of scrap metal. It’s not like she wanted me to have any part of her memory, anyway.
the artist came to the yard on a fall evening, rummaging through the piles of metal scrap. he arrived with nothing but a tattered cardboard box, thick leather gloves, and an eye for all things beautiful. he left with a box of locks that were indefinitely closed, their single arms with nothing to hug.
the artist picked me from sea of rubbish, his eyes sparkling with a child’s wonder, as if he saw in me something more than a forgotten piece of trash.
“you, little one, will have a home, soon,” he had said, and into the cardboard box i went.
what use is a lock that cannot be opened? i asked myself as he lifted me from the box and painted a fresh layer of silver over my crimson face. the answer came in the form of a blade that tore my arm into two, followed by a flame that brought it together again. but this time, my arm held another.
“look at you,” he says now, admiring his work. “now you’ll always have a friend.”
he looks at us from a distance, eyes scanning through our interlinked arms, and they seem to ask a question of their own. but we are just a tangle of locks, a heap of metal abandoned by our owners, and we can only stare back at him until he finds his answer.