Lost and Response

“Can I help you find something?”

Shaking her head, PP smiles, “Oh, thanks. It’s nothing really. Just an earplug. I just don’t know where it could have gone.”

PP had been drying her cap where she stores the earplugs after swimming when one of them popped out. She’d been scanning the disgusting floor at Hilltopia, but it had completely disappeared.

Helpful Woman nods, her round wrinkled pale face sympathetic. “Yes, I know what you mean. I once lost an emerald green earring. It just disappeared. I searched and searched all over the place. Even in the emerald green stripe of the rug,” she laughs. “But it was just gone.”

”Well, that was something valuable,” PP nods, still frowning as she tries to squat down to examine the floor. Her neck is killing her today. So the angle isn’t quite right for an optimum examination.

“It was nothing really,” HW shakes her gray wet curls in front of the mirror before attacking them with the brush.

“I’m always losing things,” Scraping Walker Woman joins in. She’s party to all locker room discussion, esp. those in front of the mirrors since she’s splayed out on the concrete floor adjacent to them, forever trying to put on her clothes. “And then I find them again but it’s too late,” she chuckles.
“You mean you replace it and then find it later?” PP asks.
“That’s right! Why once I had a boyfriend...”

PP’s mind races. She once had a boyfriend? This was amazing enough given her present condition. But then she hadn’t always been this way, crippled by a car accident, leaving her with botched surgery legs. And so, yes, she certainly could have had a boyfriend. But then?

She lost him? And then replaced him? And then found him again, but it was too late? He was history? Too bad, Jack. You disappeared and I searched and searched for you, but when I couldn’t find you, I had to find another boyfriend!

“And my checkbook was missing,” she continues. Again, PP starts to imagine. The boyfriend stole the checkbook? He was a no good slacker thief who’d stolen her checkbook? But SWW doesn’t explain the transition between the boyfriend and the checkbook. “And so I went and canceled my account and you know where I found it?”

PP glances over at HW who’s still trying to detangle her wet hair, but manages a response, “No, where’d you find it?”
“On top of the refrigerator!” SWW laughs loudly as PP tries not to show her perplexity.

“I once had a boyfriend,” HW takes up the theme, a little late, but hell, it’s more organic that way. “And he always asked me why I had to dry my hair after swimming and I told him, ‘If I don’t, then I get an earache, goddammit!' He didn’t last long.”

“Yeah, me too,” PP echoes, thinking about the earache part and not the boyfriend part. “If I don’t dry my hair right after swimming it’s all over for my ears.” She thinks of mentioning DHBF and how he’d certainly get it that she has to dry her hair after swimming to avoid an earache. But the moment is lost.

“Here I am, talking to myself again,” HW laughs. PP hadn’t noticed her talking to herself. Maybe the remark about the Clueless Earache Boyfriend wasn’t supposed to be part of the general conversation?
“I should make a New Year’s Resolution,” she continues, laughing. “To stop talking to myself.”
Laughing, PP nods as she steps back from the counter, feeling a slight bump under her flip-flop. “Hey!” She lifts up her foot and behold, the errant earplug. “I found it!”

HW had been talking to another woman, who’d joined them, about watching someone the other day using two hairdryers when PP interrupted her. HW had been expressing her surprise and admiration for this practice. But she takes PP’s interruption in stride, pausing for a moment, before grinning over at PP, “Happy New Year!” she exclaims.

Beaming, PP picks up the earplug and rinses it off thoroughly in the sink, “Yes, it is!” she agrees, now that she doesn’t have to make a trip to the sporting goods store to replace her earplugs.

“Yes! Happy New Year!” SWW joins in, unsteadily rocking on the floor as she
pulls on a skin- toned knee sock.

“Happy New Year to you all!” PP calls out as she heads back to her locker, tightly clutching her swim cap closed to keep safe the new found earplug.


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