Black Men’s Glove. Paradise Path. They Went Back and Found it.

Sometimes an unpaired item stays in its spot on one of my routes around town for a long time. The blue mitten that sparked this project was a companion on my walks for months. As of this writing, the white sock is still out there. But some items disappear almost immediately; I’ve returned to photograph locations after only a few minutes to find an item gone.

Black Glove. Paradise Path.

This glove is one of these short-term items. It appeared on the side of a path one afternoon and was gone the next time I walked by – perhaps an hour later. I hope its owner recovered it. In this story, I speculate that its owner – Emma’s dad – did recover it.


“Don’t need gwove. don’t need gwove. don’t need gwove,” Emma was chanting as her father rolled the stroller west from Hayes Street to the third house on the north side of East B street. It was 12:01 in the afternoon on Saturday January 27. The little girl continued to chant as he unbuckled her straps and set her on her feet. She was holding one small blue knit glove and one men’s black polyester, nylon and spandex glove.

As Emma climbed – knees and hands – the brick steps to the front door of the house, her father detached a pink pack from the handles of the stroller. He looked inside for a moment and then pulled the blankets from Emma’s seat and shook them out. He rolled them into a ball and crouched down to look in the stroller seat. A moment later he stood up and said, “Emma, where’s my glove?” Emma held out the hand with the small blue glove and said, “Gwove!” Emma’s mother came out the front door and scooped the girl into her arms.

Emma’s father said, “No, Emma, MY glove.”

The little girl held out the other glove and said, “Gwove!”

Emma’s father said, “No, Emma, my other glove.”

Emma held out both hands, alternated her gaze between the two and said, “gwove?” Emma’s mother laughed and said, “If I were you, I’d settle for the little blue glove.” Emma again looked at each hand in turn and held out the one with the blue glove to her father. Emma’s mother laughed some more.

Emma’s father smiled flatly and looked at his wife with his left eyebrow raised 1/8 inch higher than the right. Emma excitedly said, “Twained digty! Twained digty!” Both parents turned and looked at the little girl. Emma smiled and waved the two gloves in the air, took a breath and began to chant “Gwove, gwove. gwove…”

As Emma’s chanting continued and the family stepped into the house, 1.3 miles west-southwest a lanky man walking east on paradise path just west of Deakin Street suddenly stopped and looked to the grass on his right. After a moment, he unslung his bag, pulled out a camera and crouched down on the south edge of the path. He manipulated his camera for just under two minutes before standing, stowing his camera, adjusting the bag on his back and starting eastbound again.

Back on B Street, Emma’s dad re-emerged from the house. He put a black glove on his left hand and before placing it in one pocket  and his ungloved right hand in the other of his green wool jacket. Just as he lifted his left foot to turn east toward Hayes Street, the door the the house opened and Emma’s mom stepped out onto the porch. He turned and looked at her. After 11 seconds of silence he said, “they’re my favorite gloves.”

Emma’s mom said, “we’ll get in the car and start at the other end, I assume you were at West Park.”

“You don’t have to,” he said. Emma poked her head around her mom’s knees and said, “twained digty?”

Thirteen seconds of silence ensued while Emma looked at her dad’s face and smiled. He shook his head and started East on B Street.

Emma’s mom placed her hand on Emma’s head and turned her around into the house. “What on earth did Lacey teach you, Emma?” The door closed as Emma’s dad turned right to head south on Hayes Street.

His head pointed resolutely down, sweeping left and right as he walked steadily south. As he crossed First Street onto the path that bisects East City Park from northeast to southwest, a metallic blue 2009 Subaru Forester driven by Emma’s mom turned west onto B Street from the Alley next to Emma’s house.

“Twained digty?” Emma’s dad said to the air as he passed the outdoor stage in the park.

The Subaru reached the dead end of B Street and turned left onto Adams. Emma’s mom said, “okay little girl I know this is a long shot, but what did you do with daddy’s glove.”

From her secure perch in the back seat Emma said, “don’t need gwove!”

“Well, your daddy certainly needs this gwove,” Emma’s mom said.

“Wacey don’t need gwove,” Emma replied. The Subaru stopped at Third Street between the red brick of the old high school and the gray stone of the United Methodist church. Emma’s mom raised her eyebrows and breathed out a chuckle. She turned her eyes to the rear view mirror and saw Emma’s hands palm-to-palm in prayer pose and the breathy chuckle turned into an audible laugh. Emma caught her mom’s eyes in the mirror and laughed with delight.

As the Subaru waited for a 1992 white Ford pickup and a 2012 white Ford pickup passing westbound on Third, Emma’s dad crossed Monroe street from the park and onto the Third Street sidewalk five blocks east. He nodded to a tall lanky man striding by eastbound toward the park then looked back down to scan the sidewalk and the grass on either side.

The Subaru turned onto Third Street and stopped for the red light at Washington behind the two pickups. Four blocks east, Emma’s dad crossed Polk Street.

The light at Washington turned green. After a moment, the trucks ahead of her began to move and Emma’s mom followed. She looked at the little girl in the mirror, “Why didn’t Lacey need the glove, Emma?”

“Wacey pwincess doesn’t need gwove because of pwince, mommy.”

“Right,” Emma’s mom said. “Makes perfect sense.”

“Okay,” Emma said as the car slowed to a stop at the light at Main Street. Emma’s mom laughed again.

Emma’s dad crossed Van Buren Street and slowed. He looked carefully in the mulch in the beds south east of the old high school building. As the Subaru began to roll forward on Third Street he stopped at the steps up to the building, looking around them, behind the pedestal at the corner of the courtyard and in the plantings above the short retaining wall. He again said, “twained digty?” to himself. A 14-year-old girl skipping down the steps turned and looked at him, flattening her mouth and squinting her eyes. Emma’s dad didn’t see her. She turned east as he continued west past the second set of steps up to the building.

The Subaru crossed Jackson Street. Four blocks behind the car, Emma’s dad turned south to cross Third Street at Jefferson. He walked through the Post office parking lot. He crossed Washington at Fourth Street. He crossed Fourth Street and skirted the Co-op parking lot. He turned west along the front of the Co-op and looked under the tables on the patio. He continued west into the alley and turned south. When he reached sixth street he turned west again and lengthened his stride.

As he waited to cross Main Street, the Subaru was 1/2 mile west heading south on Home Street toward West Park Elementary school . Emma’s mom parked the car in the empty lot north of the school. Emma said, “swing mommy?” as she was extricated from the buckles of her throne in the back of the Subaru. Emma’s mom said, “no, we’re going to try to find daddy’s gwove – glove.”

“Don’t need gwove,” Emma said with a bright smile but a low stern tone. The little girl threw her blue glove onto the ground at her mom’s feet. Emma’s mom leaned down and picked up the glove, pocketing it.

“Well, then we won’t have gloves.”

“Okay,” Emma said brightly. They walked around the school through the play area and up the ramp onto the path next to Paradise Creek.

They turned east on the path.

Emma’s dad was walking west on Sixth Street past the sandwich shop at Asbury Street. He again murmured “Twained digty?”

He veered right onto the path next to Paradise Creek just west of Deakin Street. As the path curved around to the left, he met Emma and Emma’s mom on the path. Emma squealed “daddy!”

“No luck?” Emma’s mom said after looking at his mismatched hands.

“Nope,” he said. Emma’s mom set the girl down on the path.

“I’m sorry. We can get another pair.”

“I suppose. Emma, stop. There’s a river there. It’s danger -” He stopped speaking as he watched Emma lean down and pick up his glove from the grass.

The little girl walked back toward her parents. She stopped on the edge of the asphalt three short steps from them and said, “don’t need gwove!” and threw the black glove at their feet. She smiled. Emma’s mom burst into laughter. Emma looked up at her and her smile broadened. Emma’s dad’s lips flattened into a strained smile and his left eyebrow raised 1/8 inch. Emma looked at him for a moment before she said, “twained digty!”

He breathed out a slight laugh and shook his head as he leaned down and picked up his glove. “I wish I knew what she was saying,” he said. He took the girls left hand. Emma offered her right hand up to her mom. Emma’s mom took the hand and they turned west and began walking hand in hand in hand.



Boy’s white, blue and gray sock. East Third Street. The Results of the Experiment.

When I first wrote about this sock, I wondered how long it would remain in its spot. In nearly two months since I started that story, it didn’t move. Then one day in mid-March, it wasn’t on the grass. After a quick breath and a quick scan of the area, I found it about 50 feet from where I had grown used to seeing it.

Boy’s White, Blue and Gray Sock. East Third Street.

I took the picture. And I began to wonder what Edward’s reaction would be. And if anyone else had noticed.


On the first day of Edward’s spring break in mid-March, he was at  the window of his bedroom in the house on the northwest corner of Third and Howard Streets. He was kneeling on a green-painted ladderback chair looking out, watching a man across Howard street as he worked the soil of a long narrow garden with a roto-tiller. Edward looked intently at the dark soil that the man walked through as he trailed behind the machine. Edward’s gaze didn’t follow the man, but focused behind him. His eyes narrowed and he continued to stare at the tilled soil for 43 seconds when suddenly his eyes widened and his head pulled back slightly. The roto-tiller had just come back down the narrow plot and passed the patch of dirt Edward had been focused on. Edward continued to look at the dirt as he stood up. The he turned, walked out of his room, closed his door, walked down the hall and down the stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs, he turned down the hall, walked past the kitchen and bathroom. He turned and entered the last room before the living room. Edward’s dad sat in a brown, leather chair with a black laptop computer on his lap. The boy stood just inside the door for 94 seconds before the man’s forehead wrinkled with three vertical creases above his nose and his eyes drifted up from the screen. Edward’s dad’s eyes went wide and he took in air sharply before he smiled and said, “wow.”

Edward said, “Can I ask you about dirt?”

“Dirt,” Edward’s dad said. “Sure. But first, tell me how long you were standing there.”

Edward’s forehead wrinkled with three vertical creases above his nose and he looked down in silence for two seconds before he said, “more than a minute, I think.”

“Okay. Well, thanks for not interrupting me. We may have to talk about incorporating a gentle, unobtrusive knock into your office entry routine, but we’ll table that for now. So, dirt?”

Edward turned and left the office, walking into the living room and going to the window directly under his bedroom window. He stood there looking out as his dad came out of his office and walked up behind the boy. When the man put his hand on Edward’s shoulder, Edward pointed.

“Dirt.” Edward’s dad said. “Oh, he’s tilling.”

“Tilling?” Edward asked.

“Tilling. Turning the soil so that – ” The man’s statement stopped when first the boy and then he turned their heads to watch a lanky man striding eastbound on the opposite side of Third Street. They watched the man stop, stand for a moment looking down and to his left and then unsling a bag from his back and crouch down on the sidewalk.

Both sets of eyes squinted slightly and both foreheads wrinkled as they watched these actions. After just under two seconds, Edward took in a breath. Less than a quarter of a second later, Edward’s dad also inhaled.

Edward said, “the experiment.”

Edward’s dad began his statement, “that sock?” just as Edward’s lips widened for the initial “e” of the boy’s second word. They watched the man put his camera away and stand up. As the man adjusted his bag on his back, Edward left the window and scurried 11 feet to small tiled spot next to the side door. He sat on the floor and began pulling on his bright, white tennis shoes. As Edward tied his left shoe, his dad stood next to him with one hand on the wall above the boy, slipping first his left then his right foot into a pair of gray wool hard-soled slippers.

As Edward tied his right shoe, he said, “It’s March.”

Edward’s dad lifted a small blue canvas jacket from a hook and held it as Edward finished tying his right shoe. The boy stood up and took the coat. Edward’s dad said, “March 12. You know, it might not be the sock.”

Edward had his left arm in the coat but his right hand was searching unsuccessfully for its proper location. Edward’s dad lifted the shoulder of the coat and the boy’s right arm slipped into the sleeve and the coat settled on his shoulders as he reached out with his left hand for the door handle.

Two minutes and twenty-two seconds later, Edward crouched and his dad stood to the boy’s left. Edward was in the same spot on the sidewalk where the lanky man had been. They looked down at a dirty white and blue sock that sat in the gravel of the driveway 63 feet east of Howard on the south side of Third Street.

“It moved,” Edward said.

“It got moved somehow,” Edward’s dad said.

“It was in it’s original spot until two days ago,” said the young woman who had been walking west towards them and was now standing on Edward’s right.

Edward turned and looked at the boots to his right and then up. He recognized the zippers on her boots. He said, “you were sad.”

The young woman laughed, crouched next to Edward and said, “I was. But, you know, every time I passed this sock, I got less sad.” Edward nodded once. She looked up at Edward’s dad, who was smiling down at them. She stood up said, “Your son and I had a discussion about the sock and me about me being sad a few months ago.”

“Just before Thanksgiving,” Edward said. The boy continued to focus on the sock. The young woman’s head turned slightly away from the older man and her gaze lengthened.

Edward’s dad turned and said, “I’m Edward.” Placing his right hand on Edward’s head, he added, “This is Edward Junior.” He then lifted his hand from his son’s head and offered it to the young woman.

“I’m Lacey,” the young woman said, Shaking Edward’s dad’s hand; she didn’t look at the man, instead continuing to stare beyond him, west down Third Street.

Edward stood up and his head seemed to separate the adults’ hands. He turned to his right and looked up at Lacey for a moment. Then he turned to his left, reached up and pulled down on his dad’s sleeve. Edward’s dad leaned down and Edward whispered into the older man’s ear for a moment. Edward’s dad straightened, smiled at his son, took a quick look to his left toward the house and then looked back down at Edward and nodded.

Edward nodded and turned to Lacey. He looked up into her face and said, “I’m glad my experiment made you not sad…” He trailed off and the three creases came into his forehead again. After two breaths, his forehead smoothed out and spoke again, “I’m glad my experiment made you less sad and I would like to give you a hug.”

Lacey breathed out a chuckle and leaned down to the boy. He embraced her and quickly let go. He nodded and said, “I’m going to leave the sock here so that maybe you’ll get even less sad.”

He turned back toward his father and reached out to take the man’s hand. Lacey said, “Edward.” Edward turned back to her. She said, “can I have another hug?” The boy looked up at his father who quickly nodded. Edward turned back to Lacey and hugged her again. She pulled his head into her abdomen and held the boy while a tear formed in the corner of her right eye nearest her nose. The droplet grew until gravity pulled it down the side of her nose. It rolled until it met the slight bulge of her nostril then it turned and continued to the tip of her nose. It hung and grew there for the span of one breath. When she inhaled a second time, the droplet broke free and dropped into Edward’s brown hair.

She let him go and he turned back to his dad and took the man’s hand. Edward’s dad looked at Lacey and smiled. She smiled back at him. She looked down at the back of the boy’s head and then back up at the man. Edward’s dad shrugged gently and raised his eyebrows. She let out an almost silent breathy laugh before turning and going back up the sidewalk east toward her house.

As Edward led his dad down the sidewalk he said, “I think you should tell mom that you know Lacey so that I can hug her again if she needs it.” Edward’s dad said, “Okay. I’ll do that.”


White Knit Glove. West Sixth Street. It Was the Victim of a Teachable Moment.

Gloves are obviously the most common unpaired item I find. So now, I only photograph the most interesting ones. This white knit glove, I must have come across soon after it was dropped. It clearly hadn’t been kicked or stepped on. And even as I took the picture, I was sure that it would soon be picked up and taken into a nearby business.

White knit glove.
Sixth and Main

When I looked at the picture later, it looked to me like it had been dropped from near the ground. And so I immediately thought of our friend Emma and her penchant for strewing things from her low-slung rolling throne. And then I thought of her babysitter, Lacey, and how this glove might have been driven from Emma’s hand as an illustration of the moral of a modern fairy tale.


“Once upon a time,” the young woman said to the bundle in the stroller. She was sitting on a bench at the playground in Friendship Square. It was January 20 at 10:56 AM. Although it was sunny, the temperature was just above freezing. The stroller was in front of her and there was a small hand projecting from the pink and purple blanket. The hand was waving a white knit glove right to left. The movement exposed a face whose plump lips could be seen working a chant: “pon time venture pon time venture pon time venture.” Each iteration of the words grew louder and squeakier.

“Emmaaaaa” the young woman said, extending the final syllable until it’s sound brought the repetition from the stroller to a halt.

There was the sound of an intake of breath from the stroller. Then, “Wacey.” The bundle’s – Emma’s – voice was now low and solemn.

“Do you want a story?” The young woman’s – Lacey’s – tone was gentle, but serious.

“Pon time venture, Wacey.” Almost pleading.

“Yes, we’ll have a once upon a time adventure, but you have to let me tell it. Do you know what that means?”

“Um. Emma zip wip?”

A chuckle bubbled out of Lacey’s mouth and she said, “yes” with a grin. Then over the span of four seconds while Emma murmured “zip lip zip lip zip lip zip lip,” Lacey’s face transformed. Her eyes turned and suddenly focused on the glove in Emma’s hand. Her brow furrowed and she took her lower lip between her teeth.

. . .

Twenty-three hours earlier, she was standing outside the Clearwater room in the Idaho Commons. She was putting a white knit glove on her right hand while she expressed her opinion about storytelling in modern marketing practice – the topic of the talk she had just attended. As she was talking, she dropped her left glove. The young man standing next to her immediately bent to pick it up. And almost immediately, the young man interrupted her, waving her glove at her and saying, “Well, actually…”

. . .

Lacey’s focus returned to Emma, she took a breath and she said, “wait. No.”

“zip lip zip lip zip lip zip lip,” Emma continued.

“Emmaaaaa,” the extended syllable brought the chant to a halt again. “You know you don’t always have to zip your lip, right?” Lacey increased the volume of the first syllable of “always” by approximately 20 percent and extended the length of the second syllable by approximately 1.5 times what her normal cadence would dictate.

“All ways?” Emma asked.

“You’re allowed to participate in social discourse and have your voice heard.”

“diss corpse, Wacey?”

“Discourse. Discussion. Talking back and forth. I – we – you can be female and human without being silent.”

“Kay,” the little girl said and nodded slowly, eyes locked with Lacey’s. Then she smiled and waved the glove up and down and said,  “Venture?”

“Right,” Lacey said and then she said, “right” at a volume about 20 percent higher and with an explosive emphasis on the closing “t.”

“Wight,” Emma bubbled.

“Right. So, Emma, how does this story start?”

“Once pon time was a pwetty pwincess,” Emma said in a sing-song tone.

“That’s almost right. Listen. Once upon a time, there was a princess. She was a curious princess. She was a princess who wanted to know everything. She was a princess who asked questions and looked for answers. She learned to read when she was two years old. She knew her multiplication tables when she was five. She was studying the stars at Ten. And all those years, she observed, and wondered and asked questions and learned.”

“Smawt pwincess.”

“That’s right. Her parents thought being a smart princess fine for a child, but they had other plans for their soon to be grown up daughter. They needed her to attract a prince to marry. So when she was 11 they stopped her math lessons and brought in someone to teach her to sing. When she was 12, they took away her books and told her she had to learn to sew. When she was 13, they put away the telescope and explained that she would now have to stop looking at the sky and instead act like a lady.”

“No books?”

“No books. She didn’t have time. She now had to spend time sitting at fancy dinners listening to princes talk about guns and hay and livestock.”

“Wivestock?” Emma’s face scrunched and turned up to look at Lacey.

“Animals that the princes’ families raised for food: cows, sheep, even fish and bees.”

“Wivestock. Bzzzz,” Emma buzzed excitedly, darting the white glove left and right, up and down.

“That’s what bees say, but that’s also what the princes say. Or so it seemed to the princess at the very first of these fancy dinners with a prince. You see this prince decided to talk about the moon and how it goes around the earth once a day and that’s what causes the tides that impacted the oyster beds his family farmed.”

“Ooster bed?”

“Oysters. Small sea creatures,” she cupped her right hand to show size. “They have a shell that opens like this,” she put her left hand next to her right hand pinkie to pinkie and fanned the two cupped appendages opened and closed. “They make pearls,” she touched the pearl in her right earlobe with her left index finger.

“Kay,” Emma said.

“So the princess waited until the prince was finished and then said, ‘That’s all very interesting, but I do want to correct one important matter, you see the moon goes around the earth once a month – a little more than 27 days to be precise.’

“The prince looked at her and smiled and said ‘actually, that’s true but my point isn’t about months it’s about daily tides.’ The princess took in a breath to speak again, but saw her mother’s face across the table. It was a face that was saying ‘be quiet’ quite clearly.”

“Pwincess zip wip?” Emma asked in a low, even tone.

Lacey chuckled. “That’s what the mother was saying. And the mother – and the father too – started to say it to the princess a lot. The princess got the ‘zip lip’ look when she corrected one visiting prince’s obvious math error that caused him to over-state the profit of his family’s farm by a factor of ten.”


“How much money the family made from their farm. She got the ‘zip lip’ look when she asked a prince whose family ran a toy factory how they decided when to stop making a toy car and when to start making a toy plane and he couldn’t answer.”


“It’s place where stuff like toys is made. She got the ‘zip lip’ look again when she suggested to a prince that horse racing was cruel.”


“Mean,” Lacey said.

“Pwince was mean to hosseys?” Emma’s voice was high and wavered slightly. The little girl threw the glove on the ground.

“Yep.” Lacey picked up the glove.


Lacey handed the glove back to the little girl. She sighed and said, “Because he didn’t know any better. Raising horses for racing is what his family had always done.”

There was a brief pause before Emma said, “Did the pwincess save the hosseys, Wacey?”

Lacey took in a breath and began to answer, but then stopped for just a moment before she said, “yes.”

“Kay,” Emma said and smiled.

“So at fancy dinner after fancy dinner, the princess sat and ate and listened to the princes who were being paraded before her – and before her father and mother. At first she tried to participate in the social discourse.”

“Diss corpse!” Emma interjected happily.

“That’s right. For a while she expressed opinions.” She turned away from Emma and her voice got 10 percent louder. “For a time she tried to correct the most egregious errors of fact or logic in these conversations.” Her tone grew more harsh and the volume increased another 15 percent. “For a time she tried to recycle the trash that spewed from these princes’ gaping maws into useful information.” She paused to take a suddenly needed breath. She looked at Emma’s face and saw the little girl’s eyes were wide. She heard a chuckle from behind her and glimpsed a figure striding by headed west. She turned back to Emma and smiled. The corners of her lips trembled slightly.

Emma said, “kay, Wacey?”

“Yeah. I’m good, Emma,” Lacey said. She took in a deep breath and said, “But the princess wasn’t. You see, she gave up on trying to participate fully in social discourse.”

“Diss corpse!” Emma said with a squeak.

“And she just listened and smiled falsely as princes said inane things. And she grew accustomed to being corrected, having her ideas co-opted or simply being ignored.”

“Pwincess sad?” Emma’s voice was low and shaky.

Lacey let out a quick low “ha” before she said, “Princess numb.”

Lacey’s eyes focused on the glove in Emma’s hand again. She looked up into the little girl’s eyes and smiled. It was a shallow smile, but a firm one. Lacey said, “Then one day, she was out on a horsey ride with a prince.”

“Hossey ride! Pwincess saved hosseys, Wacey!” Emma squeaked again.

“That’s right. The princess was riding horseys with a prince on a cool spring morning. About 20 minutes into their ride, they stopped at a river. While the prince decided which way to go, the princess removed her glove so she could reach into her pocket to get a… chap stick. When she was done… balming her lips, she put the chap stick back in her pocket. In this process, she dropped her glove. The prince immediately leaped down from his horse – horsey – and reached down to pick up the glove. While he was leaning over, the princess’ horse got nervous and sidestepped and knocked the prince over. The princess laughed and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ The prince stood up and dusted himself off and said with strained dignity, ‘I understand. It can be hard for an inexperienced rider to control a horse.'”

“Twained digty?”

Lacey took a breath and then said, “Like your dad after your mom laughs at him.”

“Kay,” Emma said without a pause and nodded three times.

Lacey continued. “The princess said, ‘you made her nervous. You were on her right side.’ And the prince said, ‘Well, actually, if the horse is under the control of the rider it shouldn’t matter which side I was on.’ The princess almost started to say something but then she seemed to change her mind and remained silent. The prince said, ‘I accept your apology and return your glove.’ As he reached up, the horse – horsey – sidestepped again and bumped the prince again. The prince took hold of the reins with his right hand and continued to hold the glove up to the princess with his left. She looked down at his smug face and then at his hand on the rein and then at the glove. She took a breath and said, ‘I didn’t apologize.’ The prince said, ‘well, actually you did. You said ‘I’m sorry.’

“The princess looked at him for a long moment. She took in a breath, started to say something and stopped. She did this again. And finally, nodded, took in one more breath and said, ‘I did say those words but they weren’t an apology for any action on my part or on the part of my mount. They were, let’s say pity, for your clumsy fall to the ground.’ The prince laughed with strained dignity and said -”

“Twained digty!” Emma said and nodded three times.

“That’s right. With strained dignity, the prince said, ‘Well, I’ll just have to keep your glove until you do apologize.’ He then leaped onto his horse – horsey – and galloped back toward the stables. The princess expression flashed to anger. She turned her horse and leaned forward as if in preparation to spur her horse into a run. But then she seemed to change her mind. She sat back in the saddle re-arranged the reins in her hand and urged the horse – horsey – into a calm trot back toward the stables.

“She arrived 20 minutes later and saw the prince lounging on a bench outside the stable. She walked by him without a word, dismounted, handed off the horse – horsey – to a groom and started toward the house. She heard the prince’s voice behind her. He said, ‘don’t forget your glove. And my apology.’

“She stopped, turned to him and said, ‘You aren’t due an apology.’ The prince was clearly confused. Then the princess looked him in the eye and said, ‘And I don’t need the glove.’ She then turned back toward the house and walked away.”

“Don’t need gwove,” Emma said and she threw the glove onto the ground in the playground.

Lacey stood up, picked up the glove and handed it back to Emma before moving to the back of the stroller and saying, “let’s walk a bit more before we eat lunch, okay?”

“Kay,” Emma said.

Lacey pushed the stroller out of the square onto the sidewalk on Main Street and turned south. As they rolled past the Chamber of Commerce, Emma was buzzing and making the glove dart around in front of her face. As they passed the pawn shop, Emma was chanting “diss corpse.” As they turned the corner onto Sixth Street, she said, “twained digty” three times.

As they rolled past the last window of the coffee shop on the corner, Lacey waved to someone inside. Just at that moment, Emma quietly said, “don’t need gwove” and tossed the glove to the sidewalk on the left side of the stroller.  Six seconds later, they turned right into the alley and headed north again.

. . .

Seventeen minutes later, as Lacey and Emma rolled through the park at Third and Hayes Streets, a lanky man striding east on Sixth stopped next to the glove that Emma had dropped. He looked around for a moment, then unslung his bag from his back, pulled out a camera and crouched down. He moved the camera down near ground level, held it there for a moment and then pulled it up to eye level. He did this same set of motions three more times before he stood up, stowed the camera and continued eastbound on Sixth Street.


Windshield Wiper Blade. West Sixth Street. She Never Knew Where it Went.

I have come to expect to see unpaired items on my walks now. When I don’t find something interesting on given day, I’m a little disappointed. But also, interestingly, I’m now passing items by – not photographing them – if they don’t strike a particular creative nerve. This was surprising to me the first time it happened.

So, the universe is messing with my expectations. Or my expectations are modifying how I look at the universe. Expectations will do that. 

Windshield Wiper. West Sixth Street

Of course, the universe is still perfectly capable of exceeding these expectations, as when I came across this windshield wiper on one of my more common routes through town. It looked like it had been there for years, but I knew it couldn’t have been. I would have seen it.

The story that came to mind became about how we build expectations and how two people move through their shared – or separate – sets of these. (Note: for a little more context, you might want to read black knit glove first. The characters here were introduced there.)


At 3:32 PM on December 9, 2016, she was driving south on Highway 95, nine miles out of Moscow. The snow had started again just over two minutes earlier. She didn’t seem to notice. The young woman’s hands were tight on the wheel of the Pontiac Grand Am. And her eyes were focused forward as an observer would expect. But as the snow slowly cooled her windshield and began to collect, her gaze continued to alternate between the view out her windshield and something inside the car, down and to her right. These glances always followed a movement of her lips combined with inaudible utterances. The only thing in the direction of her repetitive glance was a MacBook computer in the passenger seat.

By the time her hand moved to turn on the windshield wipers, her view was significantly obscured.

. . .

Three days earlier at 7:45 A.M., the young woman came out of her house on Third Street. She crossed the street from south to north, with her hand already outstretched preparatory to unlocking the driver’s side door of the Grand Am. When she reached the car, she quickly inserted and turned the key, pulled it out and opened the door. She slid into the driver’s seat, put the key in the ignition and cranked the engine. It caught and started after four cranks and she quietly muttered, “Thank god.” Sitting for a moment, she looked at the windshield. She sighed and reached down into the passenger side footwell and came back up with an ice scraper. She exited the car and began to hastily scrape the windshield.

She cleared the driver’s side and moved around the front of the car to the passenger side. When she stopped, even with the windshield again, she pulled out her phone to look at the screen. She placed the scraper blade on the windshield and began to apply it while still looking at the screen of her phone. She pushed the scraper forward and her hand suddenly stopped. She looked up from the phone. Holding the scraper in front of her, she discovered that the plastic blade had broken. She began to mutter as she stepped back around the front of the car, “well, that will have to do. My father isn’t here to scold me for not clearing every square inch of ice.” She sat down in the driver’s seat, threw the scraper back into the passenger footwell, closed the door and began her drive to campus.

She didn’t notice that she had shattered the plastic hanger on the passenger side windshield wiper blade. That morning and the next few days, sprint-tension in the idle arm held the blade in its expected place.

. . .

When her hand completed the motion to flip on the wiper switch, the view directly in front of her cleared with one swipe of the wiper. But she also heard a scraping noise and with a slight turn of her head saw that the passenger side of the windshield was still covered with a thin and accreting layer of snow interrupted only by a 3/8 inch wide arc of cleared glass. Her eyes narrowed and her lips curled in slightly as she continued to drive, her eyes flicking occasionally from the clarity of the view in front of her to the slowly thickening layer of obscurity on the other half of the windshield. As she moved through the highway’s transition from two lanes to four, the sound from the unadorned wiper arm bracket turned from a simple scrape to a screeching wail.  Her face contorted and she pulled onto the shoulder. She unbuckled her seatbelt, climbed across to the passenger seat where she opened the passenger door from her hands and knees and awkwardly crawled out of the car onto the snow covered gravel. She moved around the open door to the front fender and looked at windshield for a moment, watching the wiper arm still sketching its arc in the crusty snow. She moved back around the open passenger door, knelt on the passenger seat, leaned on the center console and flicked the wipers off.  As she backed out of the car door, she placed her right foot on the shoulder. When she pushed off the center console to place more weight on that foot, the gray canvas Tom’s slip-on shoe lost traction on the slight grade of the shoulder. Her left knee slipped off the passenger seat and banged on the metal-clad sill as her chin hit the center console. Her left shoe came off and landed sole-side up on the gravel Her right knee came to rest on the gravel and her left slid off the sill and landed on top of the shoe. Both forearms laid across the passenger seat.

She pushed herself up, articulated her chin and then her neck. She took a breath and pushed herself carefully to her feet. She moved slowly to the front fender again. She pulled the wiper arm up off the glass until it stayed in a 40 degree angle to the windshield.

She didn’t notice that the missing wiper blade had settled deep into the three inch high and four inch deep gap between the hood and the base of the windshield.

She carefully re-entered the car, crawled over the console to the driver’s seat and buckled in. She took a breath, started the car and turned on the wipers. The driver’s side quickly cleared of the snow that had accumulated. She could see the foreshortened silhouette of the strangely articulated wiper arm through the crust of snow on the other side. She shifted into park, looked into the side mirror and then over her shoulder before pulling onto the highway.

. . .

Just over four hours later, she sat at the high, bar-like table facing the window in the cafe section of the Co-op in Moscow. Both hands were wrapped around a purple paper cup that had steam rising from its lidless mouth. “So that’s what happened. I was so busy trying to write an essay in my head that I didn’t even notice the snow start. And I still don’t know what happened to the other wiper blade,” she said to the young man sitting next to her. There was a Mead composition notebook on the table in front of him, with a Pilot .05 MM black gel ink pen resting at an angle across the open spine. “Thanks for the coffee,” she continued. “Did you get much writing done?” She flexed her jaw open and closed twice after finishing this statement.

“Yeah. Some. I wish I hadn’t had to, though. I wanted to see that reading. What’s wrong with your mouth?” he said.

“Oh, I hit my chin on the center thingy when I slipped on the gravel on the side of the road.” She flexed her jaw again.

“You’re lucky you didn’t bite your tongue.” He picked up the pen and immediately put it back down

“That would have hurt. I clacked my teeth together pretty good.”

“On the center thingy” He smiled and marked the air with both sets of index and middle fingers as he said thingy.

“Even a writer can’t always use the perfect word.” She touched the right side of her lower lip with her left index finger. “Especially when she has had a slight head injury.”

“You always select the perfect word. Did you hurt your lip?”

She smiled and said, “Mouth, tongue, lip. If I were a suspicious person, Benjamin, I’d wonder if you were secretly wondering about my osculatory prowess. How’s that for word selection?”

Benjamin made a small, low growl and in the silence that followed he turned away from the young woman and looked out the window. In the dim overhead light the red flush that moved up his neck and into his ears and cheeks was just visible. He took in a breath and said, “Kelly, I -” He stopped. After a moment during which they each took in a simultaneous breath, he slowly turned and looked at her again.

Kelly drew her eyebrows together and looked at his face for a moment. Then her eyebrows raised less than an eighth of an inch. “Oh,” she said. After another moment, her eyebrows went up over a quarter of an inch. She said, “Oh” again and slowly smiled. She considered his face for another breath then plucked the pen from his hand, pulled his notebook out from under his arms and flipped to a clean page. She wrote quickly and slid it back to him. He looked at it and his brows drew together. He looked at her for a moment, then held his hand out until she put the pen in it. He  wrote eight words. He set the pen down just below his line of text and slid the notebook to her. She read and immediately rolled her eyes slightly and pursed her lips. She picked up the pen and quickly etched out a short line of text. She underlined one word and slid the notebook into his eyeline, holding the pen out to him. He took the pen before his eyes fell on the text. Just over one second after taking in her words, the flush was visible rising on his neck again. When it had reached to the top of his ear, he set the pen down. He looked out the window in front of him and pointed ahead and just off to his left. “Lots of people have Chinese food for a… first date,” he said. She nodded and stood up. He closed the notebook clipped the pen to the cover and stood next to her. The notebook hung from his left hand. That hand was 2.4 inches from her right hand. He looked down toward the notebook. His right hand flashed over and took the notebook. He then deliberately reached out with his left hand and took her right hand. She looked down at the hands and nodded. They walked to the exit and out into the parking lot.

As they passed her car in the spot nearest the store and the edge of the parking lot, they stopped and looked at the projecting wiper arm and half-obscured windshield. He paused and said, “It looks like a smiling cyclops waving at us with one finger.” He closed his left eye, held his left hand up next to his nose with index finger curling and uncurling in a small wave and smiled broadly. She looked at him and then at the car and back at him. She smiled and then laughed. She stopped and then nodded and laughed some more. He said, “what?”

“Can I use that?” she asked. He looked at her and cocked his head slightly to the right. She said, “I have to have one more essay for my portfolio and I think you just gave me my hook.” She stopped, looked at him, smiled and then continued, “that is, if you don’t mind.”

“Consider it my first official gift to you.” The light in the parking lot was too dim to see the flush start up his neck again. When she nodded, smiled and squeezed his hand, he let out a small sigh and grinned.

She started toward Washington street, towing him by the hand and saying, “now let’s have our first official date.”

. . .

The wiper blade stayed nestled in its hiding place. Kelly wrote the Cyclops essay – 3204 words in two frenzied days – and it became the featured essay in her portfolio for that semester. Just before a Christmas drive across eastern Washington, she installed a new blade but failed to notice the old one in its nook. On her drive back to Moscow in early January she heard a new rattle from the front passenger side of the car and wondered what it was. But since the car was still doing everything she needed it to do, she quickly lost interest. The noise of the windshield wiper rattling in its coffin became part of the car’s rough harmonies. In a summer drive to introduce Benjamin to her family, he asked about the rattle, but she told him it was normal. He grew accustomed to the noise as well.

In the fall, Kelly submitted three application packages for graduate school. In each one, the Cyclops essay was the featured work in her portfolio.

At 12:23 PM on February 25, Kelly was driving west on Sixth Street through heavy snow. She was almost to the quad in front of the residence tower when she suddenly swerved into the bus stop. The windshield wipers had stopped moving. The passenger side wiper had packed snow down into the gap between the hood and the base of the windshield and then built layer after layer up until there was a wedge blocking the wiper five inches above its normal lowest reach. She put the car in park, got out and stepped around the front of the car to the passenger side. She reached out and flipped the passenger side wiper arm up. It immediately wrenched from her fingers and began swivelling back and forth at its cockeyed angle.

She watched its movement for a moment and then reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a pair of black knit gloves. She put them on and tried to scoop away the wedge of snow. It was packed tightly and instead of coming off in chunks, was simply moving back and forth as a single mass. She felt its edges for a moment and then reached down with her right hand near the middle of the windshield and her left near the closest edge and lifted a nearly 30 inch long elongated triangle of snow off the windshield. She turned and dropped it on the ground.

She didn’t notice that the original wiper blade had been embedded in that wedge of snow and was now partly exposed atop a pile of snow and traction gravel next to the right front wheel.

Her phone buzzed. She pulled it out of her coat pocket and looked at the screen. She swiped the screen and then hastily removed her right glove and swiped the screen again. She held the phone to her ear and said, “I’m on my way, Benj.” She smiled and said, “I know. I wouldn’t miss it.” The smile flattened out. She said, “I know.” She paused. “I think we can figure this out, Benj, you just need to listen to me a little better.” As she listened, her brow furrowed and she looked down and to the left. She said, “Oh. Okay. Good. Good. See you in a bit.”

She pulled the phone from her ear and looked at the screen again. Then she put the phone in her pocket and pulled her glove back on. She looked at the wiper arm for a moment and then reached out and tapped it so that it slapped down onto the windshield. She watched it for another moment and nodded.

She got into the car and and drove to the four-way stop at Rayburn Street, turned left and immediately turned left into a parking spot. “Yes!” she rasped and smiled. She got out of the car and stopped next to the parking meter. She looked around for a moment before shrugging and walking into the Ag Sciences building. There was a sign on the door that said “Student Reading this way” with an arrow pointing to the right. She followed the sign.

The professor was just introducing Benjamin as she slipped in the back of the room. She caught his eye and smiled. He nodded to her and took a deep breath as he stepped up to the podium and put his manuscript in place. Kelly was focused on taking her gloves off when he began, “This essay is called ‘You, you and we.'” She looked up quickly to find him looking directly at her, the blush began in her cheeks and spread down her neck to her collarbones.

. . .

Over the course of the next four days, the wiper blade was buried under nearly three feet of snow as the plows moved snow out of the traffic lanes of Sixth Street and onto the curb. Kelly and Benjamin spent hours discussing how a long distance relationship might work. As February turned to March, the snow began to melt. Kelly was planning her move to Bellingham and Benjamin was applying for jobs in Moscow to tide him over while he continued to build his portfolio.

On the evening of March 3, a lanky man was striding east on Sixth Street when he stopped and looked down at the wiper. He looked around for a moment before, slinging his bag off his back and pulling out a camera. He crouched down, holding the camera low to the ground. After no more than a minute, he stood back up, stowed the camera, slung his bag onto his back and continued east on Sixth.

Ten of Spades. Pullman Road. He Didn’t Know He Had It.

This week’s story features another of the more unusual unpaired items I’ve come across. This time it’s a playing card – a ten of spades – noticed in a gutter on the side of Pullman Road. Unusual enough to spark my interest and prompt a picture. But then I saw it again five weeks later, sitting on a sidewalk four-tenths of a mile east of its original spot and I was, frankly, a little creeped out. The card was tattered the first time I saw it. It was a wreck the second time.

Ten of Spades. Pullman Road

As I thought about these two pictures, I began with a simple enough image of a poker game. I quickly realized that the game took place on the night of the inciting incident in “Gold Knit Glitten.” And then I speculated how this item – a small part of that fraught gathering – might have been moved by human and other forces, just as the the lives around the card had been.


Alex was on his way out the door for his first class on Monday, March 20 when he saw a playing card – the ten of spades – on the floor just to the left of his front door. He looked at it, furrowed his brow and then closed his eyes.

. . .

Twenty-nine hours earlier, he had been leaning on the rear passenger door of a blue Audi A4 parked on Third Street just west of Polk. He heard the door of the house across the street open. The sound reverberated through the cool silence of the first hours of the early spring day. He heard footsteps on the wooden steps and then on concrete and asphalt. Now he could smell the tequila sweating out of the approaching presence.

“Alex!” Alex turned and found the owner of the Audi and one of the hosts of the party that was winding down in the house across the street. He nodded a greeting. “You have fun?” the young man asked. He was holding a deck of cards and began riffling them with his thumb.

“Sure,” Alex responded.

The young man held the cards out and said, “Cut.”

Alex looked at the cards and said, “Why?”

“Just cut. Why the fuck do you have to be so ‘whyyy’ all the time?” The young man put a nasal whine in the quoted word that caused Alex’s mouth to twitch and flatten. Alex breathed in and out then reached out and cut the deck high – only five cards down. He didn’t look at the card and he didn’t show it to his companion.

After waiting for a few moments, the young man pulled the top card off the stack and showed a ten of spades. He said, “There’s my cut. If you lose, you have to take off your pants and walk home. If you win, I’ll drive you home.”

Alex cupped the five cards face down and went to lay them back on the deck. He said, “You’re not driving me home.”

The young man pulled the deck away, hiding it in his hand behind his back. “Nope. Nope. Nope. Show me your fucking card. You don’t get everything your own way.” Alex breathed in and out deliberately again, closed his eyes for a moment, opened them again and flipped his hand over. It was a ten of hearts.

The young man looked at the card in the yellow sodium light of the pre-dawn street and squinted. He pursed his lips and then looked up at Alex’s face. “Of course. You are a pain in the ass.” He looked at Alex as he took a breath. He then turned his attention to the ten of spades in his hand and said, “You sure could have made things easier for me if you didn’t whine about not wanting to play poker.”

“I wasn’t going to play strip poker with you,” Alex said. It was said with almost no inflection.

“It’s not like I was going to manipulate cards to make you lose.” The young man increased the volume of “you” by approximately 20 percent.

“I knew what your plan was,” Alex replied quietly with a slight smile.

The young man wrinkled his nose up and in a high nasal tone said, “I knew what your plan was.” He shook his head and, returning to his normal voice said, “well, I didn’t need your help to seal the deal anyway.” He was now smiling broadly and repeatedly spinning the ten of spades atop his index finger. They both watched the card spin.

“What’s her name?” Alex said.

The young man fumbled a spin. He re-positioned the card and spun it seven more times before he laughed and said, “Alex, you’re a card.” He then patted Alex on the shoulder and said, “have a nice night.” The young man started across Third Street and Alex turned, stepped onto the sidewalk and began walking west toward his apartment. He didn’t notice the playing card tucked into the hood of his coat.

. . .

Alex leaned down and picked the card up off the floor. He started to set it on the small set of shelves next to the door but then pulled his hand back and stepped to his right into the kitchen. He dropped the card into the nearly full trash can. He began to turn to leave again, but turned back. He pulled the white plastic trash bag from the can and left the apartment. In the parking lot, he tossed the bag into the overflowing dumpster. A banana peel, a Campbell’s Hearty Chicken Soup can and a post-it note with the words “drop food at 1912 Center” fell out of the bag. He picked the peel and the can up and wedged them into the bulging mass just under the rim of the dumpster. The post-it note blew across the parking lot. As he stepped to retrieve it, the ten of spades rode another gust of wind out of his trash bag and under a 1979 Volvo sedan 20 feet away. Alex picked up the Post-It note, walked back to the dumpster, tucked the blue square next to the banana peel and began his walk to school.

As he settled into a seat near the back of Albertson Hall 102 for his Advanced Evolution/Population Dynamics class 47 minutes later, the Volvo backed quickly out of the parking space at his apartment building. The air current from the reversing car pulled the ten of spades into the driving lane in front of the boxy sedan. As the Volvo pulled forward and out of the parking lot, the tires straddled the card. And again the current of the moving car drew the card along after it. The plasticized paper rectangle flitted through the air for  18 feet and tumbled a further four feet, coming to rest at the edge of the parking lot.

The card stayed there, face up in the sunshine for five hours, until a gust of wind out of the north picked it up and deposited it in the lower branches of an Oregon Grape bush at the southwest corner of the parking lot. Alex was sitting in a coffee shop at Sixth and Main Streets at the time, looking at a screen of spreadsheet data with his forehead resting in his hand.

The bush thrived that spring, its branches growing an average of five inches from March to September. The owner of the building mauled the bush when he trimmed it in mid-September, pruning it with no regard for its health or appearance. The card rode on one offcut branch into the the bed of a small pickup truck along with the extensive product of the owner’s aggressive, amateur landscaping effort. That evening, as the truck rolled south on Peterson Drive, the card was caught in the eddy of air behind the cab. The current picked the ten of spades up and deposited it just off the sidewalk near the south entrance to the Arby’s parking lot.

As the card settled into the mulch there, the owner of the blue Audi was outside his the house on Third Street reaching both hands into the trunk of his car. He came out with a bright blue 12-pack of Montucky Cold Snack beer which he tucked under his right arm. He leaned awkwardly back into the trunk and his arms emerged with a 30 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon suspended from each hand. He crossed the street, climbed the steps and entered the already open front door. He yelled, “supplies are here!” and set the beer down on a coffee table in the middle of the front room. He began to turn away but suddenly cocked his head, reached down and lifted a deck of cards from the table. He began to lay them out on the table by suit and when he had four neat piles, he took one up and ordered the cards quickly before setting it down. He took the second pile up, sorted through it and stopped. He fanned the cards out and shook his head. He yelled to the house, “Who the fuck has been messing with this deck? How the fuck am I supposed to get a chick out of her clothes if I don’t have a full deck of cards?” There were three distinct laughs from various parts of the house. The young man smiled.

. . .

The 10 of spades sat in the mulch at the edge of the Arby’s parking lot through the fall and early winter. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, a boy in a puffy red coat was walking from the Arby’s through the parking lot toward a blue Toyota Prius in the spot closest to Peterson Drive. A woman in a red wool coat trailed behind the boy. She went to the driver’s door and he went to the other side of the car. As he reached for the rear door handle, he turned, crouched down and picked the card up from the mulch. He got in the car and set the card on the seat and buckled his seatbelt. The woman was in the driver’s seat adjusting the mirror. When the seatbelt buckle clicked, she nodded almost imperceptibly and pushed the “start” button.

As the Prius backed out of the parking lot, Alex was sitting on the couch in his apartment, listening to the young woman sitting next to him say, “Just don’t go to his house this weekend, okay? Trust me.”

“Janie,” Alex said. “What the hell?”

He looked at the side of her face as she closely watched the nail of her left index finger scratch along the inside seam on the right leg of her jeans just above the knee. She took a breath, looked up at his face and then said, “Alex, you were at a party at his house last spring. In March, right? Do you know the one I’m talking about?” He turned away and took in a breath and let it out slowly.

As the silence in Alex’s apartment extended, the Prius turned into the parking lot of The Furniture Center, four-tenths of a mile east of Arby’s. The blue car buzzed into a parking spot on the east side of the store and the driver’s door and rear passenger side door opened simultaneously. The boy emerged from the car with the ten of spades in his right hand. He walked around the back end of the car as the woman in the red wool coat said, “We’re just going to look quickly at coffee tables. Stay with me and don’t go wand- Edward, why do you insist on picking random things up from the ground? Drop that immediately!” Edward stopped and looked at the card in his hand. He then placed a corner of the card between the index and second fingers of his left hand and flicked it backhand away from the car toward the street. It flew 27 feet and landed in the middle of the nearly empty parking lot. He turned back to his mother, took the wet wipe she was holding out to him and wiped his hands carefully with it. “You can ask a worker in the store where a trash can is,” Edward’s mother said as she steered him by the top of his head to the glass doors.

As they entered the store, a gust of wind blew in from the west-northwest. The current picked up the ten of spades and deposited it on the sidewalk adjacent to the curving stretch of road that is the transition from Third Street to Pullman Road. Thirteen minutes later as the Prius sat at the exit to the parking lot, a UPS van sped by westbound on Pullman Road. In its wake, the ten of spades lifted from the sidewalk and tumbled 18 inches south and 2 feet west into the gravel-filled gutter.

. . .

On the afternoon of January 7, a lanky man was striding east on the sidewalk on Pullman Road. Just as he passed the entrance to The Furniture Center parking lot, he stopped. He pulled a camera out of the bag on his back, crouched down and took a picture of the ten of spades in the gutter. As the man stood up and stowed his camera, Alex, in his apartment up the hill from Arby’s, leaned on the kitchen table with his smartphone held to his left ear. He said, “I have to get the ring from you before I head down to Emmett.” After a moment he smiled and said, “yeah. I think I am.” There was a brief silence and then Alex laughed and said, “well, you’ll probably never have a chance since no girl will get close to your house any more.” His face pinched as he listened for a moment. “Sorry. That was probably too soon.”

. . .

At 12:14 P.M. on February 10, a gust of wind came out of the west and lifted the playing card 17 inches in the air. The wind was sustained at 17 M.P.H and carried the card for 97 feet before it hit the back bumper of a white Subaru Forester traveling eastbound on Pullman Road. It fell to the ground. The card, made brittle by exposure to the elements, broke on a rough diagonal line when the passenger side rear tire of a red Mazda Miata rolled over the card. A corner – approximately 1/5 the total area of the card – caught on a tire stud and remained on the tire. The other 80 percent of the card flipped into the air and was caught in the wake of a red Jeep Wrangler behind the Miata. This current lifted the card 42 inches off the ground and into the now 27 M.P.H wind out of the west. If anyone in the Jeep had been looking, the card would have appeared to be matching pace three feet behind. The card stalked the Jeep for a further 1200 feet, moving a few feet left and right and a few feet toward and away from the Jeep, but essentially keeping pace.

At 12:16, the card tumbled out of the Jeep’s wake, landing on the sidewalk as the Wrangler turned into the parking lot of the chrome-sided Varsity Diner. As the Jeep parked, a 31 M.P.H. gust pushed the card along the Third Street sidewalk toward Adams street. As the ten of spades was about to slip off the sidewalk onto the asphalt of the three lane thoroughfare, a UPS van sped by at 41 M.P.H. The vortex following the van pulled the card South along the sidewalk  and pushed it closer to the building. The remains of the mangled card now sat 14 inches from the edge of the sidewalk nearest the diner, protected from the west wind by the bulk of the shiny building.

Ten of Spades. Jackson Street. Five Weeks Later.

Forty-seven minutes later, a lanky man strode northbound on that sidewalk. He stopped suddenly two feet from the card and looked down. He crouched down and looked at the card. He shook his head and smiled.

At the moment the lanky man began to lift his bag off his back, Alex, who was sitting across a table from Janie in the window at the coffee shop on Sixth and Main Streets, said, “the police want to talk to me. I’m a little freaked out.” Janie was silent. She looked across the table at the intersection of forehead and hairline on Alex’s slightly bowed head. Though Alex couldn’t see it, Janie’s face was slowly transitioning from a flat, tense neutral expression to one with slightly furrowed brow and flattened lips that Alex would have recognized as sympathy.

“I’ll only say this once,” Janie said as she raised her right index finger, touched it to the geographic center of his forehead and forced his face up until his eyes met hers. “I. Told. You. So.” She paused and then said, “He’s no good, Alex.” She held his gaze for another moment’s silence. “Geez, you’re more than a little freaked out.” She punched out a breath through her nose. “Look, do the right thing and maybe you’ll learn something about yourself. You know she’s a friend of Lacey’s right?”

“Yeah,” Alex said. He continued to look at her before he said in a rush, “Look I’m sorry about the conversation you overheard but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just the way our pack talks.” He paused a moment before saying, “J, you know we’d be engaged now if you hadn’t happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

There was silence for 18 seconds. Janie’s face hardened again and a flush of red crept up from her neck past her jaw onto her cheeks. As the silent seconds creeped by she sucked in a breath through her teeth. She let half the lungful pass with a quiet hiss between her lips and then said in a flat low tone, “Did you hear what you just said?” She looked at him for four seconds before he turned away. She stood up and walked toward the exit onto Sixth Street.

As Janie stepped out the door, a gust of wind found its way around the chrome structure at Third and Jackson. It picked up the tattered remains of the ten of spades and blew it into the path of a white 1992 Subaru Legacy station wagon with Gem County plates. The card lodged in the front grill of the car. As the Subaru crossed Sixth street, traveling south on Jackson and just beating the yellow light, Janie waited at the corner. The walk light came on in front of her and she crossed the street as the station wagon (and the ten of spades) disappeared around the curve that would lead to the highway south toward Boise.

Hamburger Bun (Bottom Half). North Hayes Street. He Threw It as a Distraction.

On my walks around Moscow someone occasionally decides – usually for no other reason than they thing it might be “fun” – to mess with me in some way. I have had cars swerve into puddles to splash me intentionally. I have been yelled at as a way to startle me – or to insult me. I have had things thrown at me. Almost without fail, these incidents have been instigated by groups of young men. I’ve seen a bit of this beyond my Moscow wanderings. In my younger days, I worked as a security officer at a university and witnessed a remarkable range of stupidity. Much of it was benign, but the occasional heartbreaking incidents where this stupid behavior became damaging or criminal have stayed with me all my life. 

Hamburger Bun. North Hayes Street

So when this hamburger bun – easily the strangest item I had photographed so far – showed up on my walk, it was easy to imagine that it was part of an all too familiar “boys will be boys” story. A story that would weave – a little sadly and a little hopefully – into this world of Unpaired.


“Would you just eat the damn burger, Z?” It was 12:14 AM on December 21 and the speaker, leaning forward through the gap between the front seats of the blue Audi A4 was talking to the young man in the passenger seat.

“But how the hell is it perfectly clean? That’s what I want to know.” Zack, in the passenger seat, had a red and white Quarter Pounder clamshell box sitting on his left thigh. Most of the sandwich itself was upside down in the top half of the package; he held the bottom bun in his left hand. “Shouldn’t there be onions or relish or burger juice on it?”

The young man leaning through from the back seat said, “The onions should be there.” He pointed to the exposed bottom surface of the all-beef patty.

“How the fuck would you know?” the driver asked.

“I worked at McFuckers for a few weeks.”

The driver glanced at the face poking between the seats. “Of course you did,” he said. “Anyway, I ordered it without onions.”

Zack looked at him, “Why? And by the way, where the hell are we going?” The Audi was driving up the hill on F Street, having just passed the football stadium.

“Onions are disgusting. And we’re driving around.”

“I like onions.”

“Tough shit. I’m driving. I’m in charge. I pick the music. I determine where we’re going. I order from the drive through.”

“You’re a dick,” Zack said.

“You’re the man,” the young man in the back seat said.

The driver turned and seemed to address the bun in Zack’s left hand, “Apparently I’m a rapist.” He turned the car through the free left turn at the top of F Street onto Hayes.

There was silence in the car for a long moment before the young man in the back seat plucked the bun from Zack’s hand while simultaneously pushing the window button to his right. As the window buzzed down, he said, “If you are, we all are.” He tossed the bun out the window.

“What the fuck?” Zack said as the bun tumbled to a stop face up on the ice 28 inches from the curb on the West side of Hayes Street. The Audi continued south on Hayes.

“Stop bitching and eat your burger,” the driver said.

“I’m not a rapist,” Zack said quietly as he closed the clamshell in his lap.

“You ARE eating this,” the young man in the back seat tapped the burger package. He had mis-heard Zack’s previous statement.

Zack didn’t respond. His brow was furrowed and his eyes were slightly squinting now. He was looking off to his right. The Audi slowed to 13 MPH as it reached the stop sign at D Street, then accelerated through the intersection.

Four minutes later, the Audi turned right on Third Street. Just west of Polk Street, the car slowed and pulled to the curb. The three young men got out of the car. The driver and the young man from the back seat crossed Third and went up the steps to a house just west of mid-block. Zack trailed behind. The driver opened the door to the house, looked at the young man standing next to him and then looked down toward Zack, now standing on the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps. “The fuck is wrong with you, Z?”

“He’s sad about his onions,” the young man who had been in the back seat said as he pushed past the driver through the door.

. . .

Twelve hours and four minutes later, a lanky man came out of a house on the West side of Hayes Street and turned south. Almost immediately, he stopped. If anyone had been nearby, they would have heard him chuckle. He pulled out his phone, crouched down and pointed the back of the phone at the hamburger bun, still sitting undisturbed on the ice near the curb. After a moment, he stood up, put his phone in a jacket pocket and continued south.

As the lanky man stood up on Hayes Street, Zack was sitting in the coffee shop at the corner of Sixth and Main Streets. He sat at a table tucked under the balcony.  He was sipping black coffee from a small paper cup. He was listening to the Christmas music on the coffee shop sound system – “Mary, Did you Know.” There was a cup on the other side of the table. It brimmed with frothy foam.

He was staring at the tea bag that had floated and emerged from the foam when he heard the barista say “Emma!” quite loudly and then “Hi, Lacey.” He leaned back in his chair and looked around the lath-paneled pillar toward the counter. Lacey was standing beside a stroller. He watched her pull one white and one blue glove off and put them in the pocket of her coat. She extracted a wallet from another pocket. The barista pointed in his direction and he heard her say, “he’s bought it for you already.” Lacey’s head turned toward him and she smiled when her eyes met his. She put her wallet back in the coat pocket and stepped behind the stroller. He turned back to the computer on his table. He closed the lid, put his elbows on the table and leaned his forehead on his knuckles.

“Hey, Z,” Lacey said, touching his shoulder. Emma said “Zeeeee!” from the stroller.

Zack turned to Lacey and smiled. “Hiya. Hey Emma.” He reached his fist out toward the stroller. A tiny fist emerged from the stroller and touched his. There was an attempt at an explosion sound effect from Emma as both fists expanded and ten fingers waggled. “Mary, did you know” ended and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” started.

“Her father was reaching to get her out of the stroller yesterday and she bumped his fist and made that noise and did that with her fingers. The look on that poor man’s face… Are you okay? You look tired.”

“I didn’t sleep much last night.”

“Boys’ night out,” she said with a smile and acrobatic eyebrow movements.

“Yeah. Sort of. I actually didn’t stay out very late. I – I couldn’t get to sleep after.”

“Room spinning?” She was still grinning.

“No. No. I… Lace.” He put his forehead back on his knuckles.

“Zack, what’s wrong?”

He looked up. “I – it’s something Rob said. When we were driving around. I…” He trailed off and turned away.

“Zack, what the hell?” Neither of them heard Emma begin to chant “watt. da. hell. watt. da. hell. watt. da. hell.”

“Okay. This is really weird and I don’t know how to – anyway. The first time we – you know…” He looked at her and saw her smile shift. He turned away from her, looking down at the table and continued, “We had both been drinking and I spent most of last night looking back at … it. And well…”

“Are you saying I forced you?” Lacey said. He turned sharply and looked at her. He searched her face and found only a small smile. In this silence, they could now both hear Emma’s chant. They both turned and looked at the little girl in the stroller. “Emma. Stop, please,” Lacey said. She then put her right hand on Zack’s left wrist and said, “You aren’t him. You do know he’s a dick, right?”

Zack’s response was to sigh and to break eye contact.

“Zack!” she said loudly. He turned back to her. “Do you know how many times you said, ‘are you sure?’ to me that night?” He shook his head. She said, “I don’t either, but I think it was more than ten and it almost cost you the opportunity to get into my pants.”

“Lace!” he said and looked around to see if anyone had overheard.

She laughed and ultimately so did he. The song ended and they fell into silence. They heard Emma chanting “pants. pants. pants. pants.” They laughed again. Their laughter was oddly loud in the silence of the coffee shop. They stopped and Lacey looked at Zack and took his hand.

She said, “You know she wasn’t the first girl he did that to, right?” The music finally started up again – “Jingle Bell Rock.” After a moment he nodded. She took a sip of her London Fog and said, “Thank you.”

. . .

On Hayes Street, a white 1996 Ford F250 rolled south and ran over the hamburger bun. The temperature was 34 degrees so the liquid in the bun was still near solid. The deep mud and snow tread of the front right tire pressed into the bun and lifted it cleanly from the street. As the truck continued south, the bun left a faint, floury, circular impression 100.7 inches from where the bun had rested through the night. As it rolled south toward D Street, it left an identical circle on the asphalt every 100.7 inches. By the time the truck had turned west on D Street, continued down the long hill, turned south on main and entered the drive-through line at Dutch Brothers Coffee, the bun had met the street 504 times and the residue being left was no longer visible to the naked eye.



Black Knit Glove. Fifth and Washington. She was Happy When She Dropped It.

One of the more prominent features of a college town is a transitory population. A few of us come here to do something at the university and never leave, but a large portion of the population is in town for a two or three or four years before moving on. It’s most obvious in the restaurants and coffee shops that I patronize regularly. I get to know a barista after he is hired; we converse occasionally over a year or so until they get comfortable enough to joke about how I’m at the coffee shop more than any staff member. Six months or a year later, he moves to Seattle for a job or graduate school or to Liberia for a Peace Corps assignment.

I also see the transitory nature of Moscow among the regular customers in these establishments. From my vantage point at adjacent tables, I’ve watched relationships start. I’ve watched couples decide to move in together. I’ve watched them talk and argue and reason – sometimes successfully and sometimes not. And I’ve also watched as they have grappled with what’s next when their lives are suddenly pulled down different paths.

Black Knit Glove. Fifth and Washington.

So this black glove inspired a story about one of these couples at a cusp point. The glove falls out of a pocket at a time when a bit of good news has a vastly different meaning for each half of the couple. And the event of finding it helps one half begin to understand that difference.


He had just left work at the Co-op and walked across the parking lot. She had come from her friend’s house on Third Street. It was 8:03 P.M. on the second to last day of January.

He stepped between two planters on the edge of the Co-op parking lot as she stepped onto the bright yellow knobby surface of the curb ramp on the southwest corner of Fifth and Washington Streets. He looked at her face in the bright light of the streetlamp. “Hey you.” He smiled at her and then his eyebrows drew together as he said, “What?” They each took two more steps toward each other. Her hands were in the pockets of her pink winter coat.

“What, what?” She asked as they both stopped, the toes of her pink, woven-hemp, Tom’s flats 19 inches from the toes of his scuffed, black, eight-eye Dr. Marten knockoff boots. She was smiling, but there was tension in the small muscles around her eyes and in her smiling lips. He reached his right hand toward her face. His fingers touched her cheek; his thumb moved to a tight crease on the left corner of her  mouth.

“That smile. It’s…” He smoothed at the crease with his thumb. His eyebrows separated and raised slightly and he said, “You heard from one of them?”

“Western,” she blurted. Her hands flew from the pockets of her coat, a glove followed the left hand from the coat pocket. She grasped the hand at her face as the glove fell to the ground, tumbled and settled on the concrete between his right foot and her left. “Assistantship.  Grant. Housing allowance. They want me.” Her tone was bright and her eyes widened and scanned his face as she spoke, but her lips held the tension around the words.

“God! Congratulations, Kell.” They each shuffled forward and embraced. Neither noticed the glove as it was gently compacted between the toe of his boot and the outside of her slightly in-turned, hemp-clad foot. “Bellingham, yikes,” he said as they released each other and stepped back. The scuffed toe of his Doc Marten ended up 14 inches from the now contorted black glove which was 9 inches from the pink hemp of her left shoe. The toe was still turned in but the foot was now resting on the outside edge of the sole with her ankle cocked at a 120 degree angle. “Now we wait for the flood of -”

The young woman, Kelly, interrupted, “Iowa rejected me. I heard last week; didn’t want to talk about it. U-dub came today too. They will take me, but no -”

He interrupted, “Seattle! That’s where we want -”

She interrupted, “No assistance. Nothing. I can’t afford-”

He interrupted, “We can figure it out, Kells. Seattle -”

She interrupted, “It’s not just money, it’s…

She trailed off under the diesel roar of a truck accelerating past them on Washington Street. They each took a breath. She smiled and the left side of her mouth formed the same crease as before. As the din of the truck faded, they heard a voice from the direction of the Co-op, “Benj!”

“Shoot, I have to go,” the young man, Benjamin, said.

“I do too.” She darted in and hugged him. “I have an edit to finish. Call me later?” When she released him, the black glove was four inches behind her left heel and her forehead was nine inches in front of his chin.

He kissed her forehead and said, “Okay.” He pivoted on his left foot and went back between the planters into the parking lot toward the Co-op entrance.

She pivoted on her left foot – skirting around the black glove on the concrete – and toward the crosswalk on Fifth Street.

As he pulled open the steel and glass door, he glanced over his shoulder and saw her stepping up onto the sidewalk on the other side of Fifth. He continued into the store. The door swung slowly closed behind him while she crossed the first two lanes of Washington Street walking toward the stern concrete facade of the Federal Building. Less than  a minute later, she swiped a card through a reader next to a door on the west side of the building and slipped through the door while he weighed a quart-sized container of gluten-free macaroni and cheese at the express checkstand. His hand suddenly jerked away from the purple cardboard container. “Hot,” he said to the woman in the red wool coat who was sliding her card through the machine perched on the edge of the counter.

. . .

After 45 seconds of silence on the street and sidewalk, a lanky man emerged from the shadow on the east side of the Co-op building, striding northward on Washington Street next to the parking lot. Twenty feet from Fifth Street, he stopped, and looked down at the sidewalk. He looked up and scanned the surrounding area before shifting the bag from his back to his hip and pulling a camera from it. He crouched down next to the black glove.

On the third floor of the Federal building Kelly looked out the window toward the Co-op. She took no notice of the man taking a photograph of her glove.

Forty-five seconds later, the man stood up, stowed the camera and shifted the bag to his back.

A young woman in a midnight blue wool peacoat appeared in the red glow of the “closed” sign of the yarn store on the opposite corner of Fifth and Washington, walking south as the lanky man stood up from his crouch. As he shifted his bag, she entered the Fifth Street crosswalk. He started north and the two passed each other on the yellow knobbed surface of the curb ramp. After two further steps, she stopped and looked at him over her shoulder before looking down at the black glove. She turned and looked again at the man, now almost to the police station on Fourth Street, before turning back, leaning down and picking up the glove.

She entered the Co-op and went to the express checkstand where the young man stood, holding his right hand near his mouth and blowing on his index and middle fingers. The young woman said, “I found this on the sidewalk” while pointing toward the exit door.

“Thanks,” Benjamin said, quickly putting his hand down on the counter in front of him. “I’ll put it in the lost and found.” The young woman did not make eye contact, but stared at the nametag hanging from a lanyard around his neck. It read “Your co-operator today is: Benjamin.” Without saying another word, the young woman left the store the way she entered. Benjamin watched the door slowly swing closed behind her before walking to the end of the third checkstand, leaning down and stuffing the glove into an overflowing box of hats, gloves, and scarves. His right hand moved back up in front of his mouth and he was blowing on his fingers as he stepped back behind his register for the final minutes of his shift.

. . .

Twenty-three hours later, Benjamin sat at a table next to a window at the coffee shop on Sixth and Main Streets. A battered laptop computer sat in front of him, screen angled down toward the keyboard. A stack of three Mead composition books sat next to the computer, the topmost open, its lined white pages darkened with black-inked paragraphs, scratch-outs, circled emendations and arrows. His right hand rested across the open spine, tips of index and middle finger each neatly covered with a white adhesive bandage adorned with red hearts.

“I mean, I’m happy that Western wants her, but Bellingham! And U-Dub wants her too. It’s just money, right?”

“Just money. Yep,” said the person at the adjacent table, brushing the tips of her right hand across a blue polka-dot bow tie tied neatly at her throat. “What do you want to do?”

Benjamin looked down at his right hand and took a breath before looking back up and saying, “Well, I want to write. I’m going to apply to grad school next year. Seattle would be a better landing spot.”

“So go to Seattle.”

Benjamin’s eyebrows drew together, “Exactly.”

She smiled, looked at him for a moment and then said slowly, “What do you need to make you happy?”

The small gaspy growl that emerged from Benjamin’s constricted face made her lips twitch into a slight smile as he followed with, “I said. I want to go to Seattle and write and get ready for grad school.”

“Ah.” She paused, looking at him gently but intently.

He took in a breath as if to speak, but held it instead. He cocked his head slightly to the left and drew his eyebrows together again. He took another breath, sighed it out and turned back to the woman. “I don’t know how to be happy.”

The woman barked out a laugh that turned all fourteen heads in the coffee shop toward her. She stood up and slipped a notebook and pen into a canvas shoulder bag that was hanging from the back of her chair. “Write that down in your composition book there.”

“Professor?!” The tone of his voice was an octave higher than it had been. “I don’t understand.”

She put on her coat and slung her bag over her shoulder before turning back to him. “Review your words in our conversation, Ben. And review my big question to you.” She patted him on the shoulder as she took a step toward the exit and said, “And then I want you to think about singular and plural pronouns. You’re a writer.” Benjamin’s eyebrows crowded together on his forehead as he watched her leave. His head jerked back toward his table when a buzzing sound reached his ears. He extricated an older iPhone from the clutter on the table looked at the screen and then swiped the screen. “Hi Kells.”

On the third floor of the Federal Building, Kelly held a giant smartphone to her ear. “Hiya. I’m almost done here. Want to walk me home?” She listened while also playing with a single black knit glove on her desk. “That’s fine. I know you want to get that essay done. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She flattened the glove on her desk and then said, “Okay. And when you get to your house, can you see if I dropped a black glove somewhere there?”

Back in the coffee shop, Benjamin had his phone in his right hand. His right elbow pinned down one of the Mead composition books on top of his now closed laptop. The pen in his left hand was in the process of drawing a line under the four words he had just written on the page: pronouns – singular or plural. He then put a box around the words written 3/4 of an inche above these, the only other words on the page: I don’t know how to be happy.

He said into the phone, “Oh, sorry. Zoning out a bit. I’ll – we can look the next time you’re over. Tomorrow night?” He set the pen down, switched the phone into his left hand and looked at the two bandaged fingers. “I really want to figure out this Seattle or Bellingham thing, Kells. When do you need to decide?”

Kelly had stood from her desk and was looking out the window by her cubicle. She looked at the facade of the coffee shop building and said, “I. We’ll figure it out. I’ll text you when I get home.” She smiled as she listened but there was the tense crease on the left corner as before. “You and your words. Have fun. Love you, Benjamin.” She closed her eyes as she moved the phone from her ear. She sighed, opened her eyes and looked at the screen. She tapped it four times and held it to her ear. “Hi Lace,” she said. She smiled – without the crease – chuckled gently and said, “Guess what?” A pause. “No, not that. I’m going to Western for my Masters.” If there had been anyone else in the office, they would have heard joyful burblings from the phone now held a couple of inches from Kelly’s ear. “Full-ride. I won’t be spending a penny. I’ll be working my ass off, but they’re actually paying me. It’s exactly what I needed.” A pause. “Thanks. I’m excited.”

. . .

At 2:15 in the afternoon on February 1, Benjamin was sitting at the customer service counter at the Co-op. He was examining his fingertips, now covered by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bandages. “Hey Ben,” he looked up to see Kelly’s friend – whose name he couldn’t remember – pushing a stroller. He smiled and said, “Hey!”

“Hey. Emma here saw your lost and found box and thinks her missing glove might be in it. Could we look?” Ben could now faintly hear a small voice chanting “wonewy gwove, wonewy gwove, wonewy gwove” somewhere below the level of the counter. He came out from behind his island and stepped toward the end of the last checkstand. “Sure thing. Dig away,” he said, as he pulled the box from the shelf below the stock of grocery bags.

Kelly’s friend released Emma’s buckle and set the girl on her feet. “Go ahead and start looking, Emma.” The little girl said, “okay wacey.” She then carefully pulled the sleeves of her pink and white striped sweater up to her forearms, causing both adults to laugh. They watched for a moment as Emma dug into the box, now chanting “gwove, gwove, gwove.”

Emma pulled a white knit winter hat from the box and dropped it on the toes of Benjamin’s black boots. As she pulled a bright red scarf from the box hand over hand, piling it incrementally over Lacey’s white sneakers, the young woman said, “so, good news for Kells, huh? Western! I’m so happy for her.”

“God, yeah. Accepted to U-dub and Western. So great.” Emma dropped a gray child’s sweater at Benjamin’s feet.

“Oh, she was all set to go to Western! Did she hear from U-Dub today?” A bright blue woven shopping bag fell on Lacey’s toes.

“No. She heard from both of them on Tuesday.” A black ski glove; a huge, puffy white mitten and a water bottle landed at Benjamin’s feet.

Benjamin reached out with his left toe and stopped the water bottle from rolling too far away as Emma pulled a pink windbreaker from the box and handed it to Lacey who took it from the little girl and began folding it as she said, “Oh. Oh, well, it was a quick conversation.” Lacey paused and chewed on her lower lip as she set the neatly folded windbreaker on the end of the checkstand counter.

As two black leather driving gloves fell to his feet, Benjamin said, “She said she was going to Western?”

“Well, that’s what I thought, Benj.” A tiny knitted gray hat with mouse ears landed onn the shopping bag at her feet.

Emma handed him a blue umbrella which he took and set on the counter as he said, “God. I really wanted to go to Seattle.”

“Well…” A brown leather jacket was piled at her feet.

“Well, what?”

“I think she really wants to go to Bellingham.”

“But what about us?”

“Well what do you want?”

“I want to go to Seattle.”

Emma handed Lacey a black knit glove. “Sorry, I meant what do you guys want – together,” Lacey said as she set the glove on top of the folded pink windbreaker.

“Oh,” he said. He watched Emma pull a earflapped hat in the shape of a skunk’s face from the box and drop it on the pile at his feet. It was the last item in the box.

“No bwue gwove, wacey,” Emma said. She pulled her sleeves back down to her wrists and sat down in her stroller. Both adults laughed again.

Lacey bent down and gathered the pile of lost items at her feet and put them in the cardboard box. Benjamin followed suit with the pile at his feet. Emma sat calmly in her stroller chanting, “gwove, gwove, gwove, gwove,” as the two adults stood at the end of the checkstand. Lacey again pulled her bottom lip under her top front teeth and Benjamin drew his eyebrows together. They stood there facing each other over the box of lost and found items until interrupted by Emma suddenly shouting, “you!” They both looked down at the girl to find her looking at Benjamin and pointing at the box. Benjamin smiled leaned over and picked up the box. Lacey noticed the three items on the counter. She took the umbrella and slotted it upright into the corner of the box. Then she placed the folded pink windbreaker and the black glove riding its zipper atop of the jumbled pile in the box in Benjamin’s hands.

The black knit glove was 19 inches from the tip of his chin.

“You guys’ll figure it out, Benj,” Lacey said as she started to crouch down to the stroller. His eyes followed her movement until her head passed behind the box and he found himself looking at the glove. His eyes widened. He quickly set the box back on its shelf. He then took the black, knit glove and looked at it carefully.

“Huh,” he said and then, “you.”

“See ya, Benjamin,” Lacey said. He waved as she turned the stroller toward the exit. He could just hear the little girl begin to chant, “you, you, you, you,” as they reached the door. He pulled out his phone and looked at the screen. He then scanned the checkstands, walked to the second one and said to the woman there, “I’m going on my ten, okay?” Without waiting for an acknowledgment, he walked to the exit and out onto the sidewalk in front of the store. Touched the screen on his phone once and held it to his ear. A moment later he said, “Hey Kells. I found your missing glove. and I think… I need – we need to talk about pronouns.”

Brown work glove. Fifth and Washington. She Dropped It the Previous Evening.

So much of what I witness while I walk is ephemeral. Hoarfrost rimming a sign along the sidewalk – sublimating into the warming air minutes after I walk by. A family in a driveway arguing about Sunday school – voices falling under the noise of the street within a few steps. A shocking burst of color in a sunrise outside my front door- fading to pale blue by the time I walked just a few blocks. This glove, posing frozen on a fixture outside the local food co-op – disappearing before I exited the store minutes later.

Frozen Work Glove. Moscow Food Co-op.

But something about the shape of this object struck me and stayed with me – just as some sounds or combinations of colors do. And so, I was inspired to take a picture and now speculate how its brief stay on its perch might have gently impacted one family’s day.


“A claw,” Edward said, looking at the curled up glove in his hand and holding it out to show his parents. Edward’s puffy red coat flapped open in the breeze to expose a white button down shirt, a blue tie with a pattern of small brown crosses and khaki pants tucked into his navy blue snow boots.

“Edward,” Edward’s mother said with a gasp that hissed out through flattened lips, “Drop that! why do you insist on picking up every dirty thing from the ground?” She pulled a hand out of the pocket of her red wool coat to point at the ground.

“Go on in, mom,” Edward’s dad said from his spot between the boy and his mother, “We’ll catch up.” He put a hand on Edward’s stocking cap-clad head and steered him out of the traffic lane toward the front door of the Co-op. Edward continued to look at the glove.

Edward’s mother leaned forward to look around Edward’s dad at Edward. She then looked up at the older man, flattened her mouth and sighed again this time through flaring nostrils. Edward’s father smiled back at her. She turned to enter the store. “We will not be late for Sunday School,” she said over her shoulder as she pulled the door open.

“What should we do with it?” Edward’s dad said.

“Why is it curled up?” Edward said.

“Well, let’s think about that. It’s cold, right?” Edward nodded. “Below 32 degrees?” Edward’s face crinkled up and then he reached down to the zipper pull on his coat. He looked at the small thermometer that hung there, looked back up at his dad and nodded. “It was probably wrapped around something when you picked it up?” Edward nodded and pointed to the the base of a light post. “Could it have been wet?” Edward’s dad pointed down to the ice rimmed puddle just off the curb they stood on. Edward looked at the puddle and back at his dad. His brow was slightly furrowed. “So, why is it curled up?”

“Frozen,” Edward said. Edward’s dad smiled and gave him a shrug and smile that Edward recognized as “probably so.”

“Drop it?” the boy said.

“Well, we could…” Edward’s dad said.

Edward looked up, recognizing the gentle challenge at the end of his dad’s statement. He said, “Maybe someone will be looking for it?”

Edward saw his dad smile. Then Edward looked around for a moment. He pointed to the top of the recycling box near the front of the store. Edward’s dad nodded and picked the boy up. Edward set the glove down on selected perch. It rocked like a slightly off balance rocking horse. They watched it slow and almost stop. Edward’s dad tapped one of the black rubberized fingers and set it teetering again. Again it slowed, stopped and this time Edward tapped the finger and put it in motion.

They both heard the door to the Co-op open and then heard, “You two! What on earth?” The glove settled to rest as they turned to her.

“Just waiting for you, mom!” Edward’s dad said. She strode past them and Edward’s dad set the boy on his feet on the concrete. In her wake, Edward and his dad stepped into the parking lot with Edward leading his dad by the hand. After a few steps the man and the boy had veered off slightly east while Edward’s mother had veered slightly west.

By the time she reached the car in the northwest corner of the lot, Edward, had led his dad almost to the sidewalk on the east side of the lot. Edward’s dad yelled over his shoulder, “We’re apparently walking. We’ll meet you there!”

Edward’s mother turned and looked around the car. She then extended her gaze and saw Edward’s dad waving from across the parking lot. “You two,” she said not loud enough for them to hear as they reached the crosswalk on Fifth Street. She looked at her phone then back up toward the pair now in the crosswalk. “As long as they don’t find something to investigate along the way.” She turned back and opened the car door.

As Edward’s mother was turning the key in the ignition, Edward and Edward’s dad were facing the three lanes of Washington Street. Edward was watching a tall, skinny man striding through the crosswalk toward them. “You didn’t look both ways!” Edward said as the man stepped up onto the sidewalk next to him. The man caught Edward’s dad’s eyes and chuckled genially. He pivoted into the Fifth Street crosswalk.

Edward’s dad said, “remember, this is a one way street. Also, he’s twice as tall as you so he can see the road from further away and the cars can see him too.” Edward looked over his shoulder at the man, who had just stepped onto the sidewalk at the edge of the co-op parking lot. Edward nodded and turned slightly to look at the white tractor-trailer stopped on Washington Street. His head twitched to the left, but didn’t fully turn. His right foot lifted off the curb.

Edward didn’t notice the following brief sequence that began just as his right foot landed in the crosswalk:

  • Edward’s dad hovers his hand over Edward’s head and catches the eye of the truck driver.
  • The truck driver looks to his right, into his side mirror.
  • The truck driver turns back to Edward’s dad and nods.
  • Edward’s dad nods back and drops his hand back to his side.

As Edward and his dad stepped up onto the curb on the east side of Washington Street, the truck was accelerating behind them, the lanky man was pointing his phone at the glove atop the recycling box near the co-op entrance and a woman wearing a co-op ID tag was watching him from the window to the left of the door. Edward and his dad turned toward Third Street. The lanky man entered the store. And moment later, the woman with the Co-op ID tag came out of the store, picked up the glove, flattened it with some effort and stuffed it into the back-right pocket of her jeans, next to its mate.

Black Sock. West Sixth Street. Alex Thought it Was in His Duffel.

One of the more uncomfortable sights on my journeys around town is the breakup scene. On the sidewalks, in cars, spilling out windows and in my favorite coffee shop, I’ve seen and heard more breakups than I would ever have cared to witness. I’ve listened to shouting matches and desperate pleading, seen slaps and final kisses. And yes, I’ve even watched – twice – a ring being returned across a coffee shop table. 

Black sock.
West Sixth Street

So when I started thinking about why on earth this sock was sitting so prominently on this very public bench, I began to imagine that it had held a secret. An unformed plan that was revealed and thoughtless words that were overheard. A combination whose threads unraveled from that sock, spiked out around the town, sped south down the highway and ended in my favorite coffee shop.


“Alex!” his mom yelled down the stairs. He was staring at the ceiling of his childhood bedroom. He had been home for less than one day. “There’s a black sock missing! Is it down there?” He looked around and saw the empty duffel.  He sighed.  “It has an orange stripe at the top.” He suddenly took in a sharp breath, scrambled off the bed and began digging through his battered gray messenger bag. “You must have bought it at school, because I certainly didn’t get it for you.”

“Why would she have…,” he muttered as he turned and searched the floor briefly before picking up his large black duffel. He turned it inside out to confirm its emptiness. “If you find it in your clutter down there, bring it when you come up for dinner!” his mom said as he hurried out the bedroom door. A moment later his footsteps could be heard springing up the stairs. And 90 seconds after that, he reentered the room carrying a white plastic laundry basket loaded with neatly folded socks, underwear, t-shirts and jeans. On top, bridging the crack between dark denim and white cotton, turned right side out and folded in half was a single, thick black athletic sock with a gray heel and an orange stripe at the top. He sat on the bed, set the basket at his feet and looked at the sock.

His head fell into his hands. He took a deep breath, planning to sigh, but the exhale was interrupted when the odor of simmering tomato sauce, garlic and Italian sausage registered on his face. He shook his head and looked toward the bedroom door. He said quietly, “Just chill, Alex. It’s in the apartment somewhere.” And his mom breezed in.

“Janie called,” she said as she picked up the basket and swung it on top of the dresser directly across the room from Alex. “She sounded tired,” she said as Alex stood up and moved next to her. “When will she be back in t-” Alex put his hand on top of the laundry as he said, “Mom, I’m 22 years old.”

“Touchy! Do it yourself then.” She said it gently with a wry smile. She was looking at his face so she didn’t notice that his hand had gripped the sock so hard that his knuckles were turning white.  “Why didn’t Janie come back down with you?”

“One of her sorority sisters got engaged.” Alex’s expression fell into one his mom recognized as one of regret for saying what he just said. Janie would have recognized it too. He continued anyway, “They’re celebrating tonight. She’ll be down in the next couple of days.”

“Ah ha,” she said smiling and completing the thought she had when his face fell earlier.  She waited for a significant moment and then said, “Anyway, do you think you knocked that sock out in the car? Do you want to go check?”

“Mom, don’t worry about the sock. why did… I,” he paused for just a moment. “I thought that pair was in my messenger bag.”

“It was. Well, one was. Janie told me when she called to tell me she wouldn’t make dinner tonight. She wanted to let you know that she had tucked those socks into your bag.”

There was a sudden, strange silence in the room.

. . .

Twenty-three hours earlier, in the early evening of January 22, Alex was standing in the living room of his apartment. His messenger bag hung from his shoulder and the black duffel sat fatly stuffed at his feet. He stood still but for the rising and falling of his chest. His eyes looked ahead and down. It looked as if he were contemplating the second shelf of the bookcase to the left to the apartment’s front door. But Janie and Alex’s mom would have been able to tell you that his focus was entirely inward.

As Alex took a deep breath and leaned down to pick up the duffel, Janie was walking east on Sixth Street. She was walking quickly; her hands were balled into fists though neither fist was empty.  Alex and Alex’s mom would recognize this behavior as barely masked rage. She suddenly stopped next to an empty wooden bench at the bus stop next to the newest dorm complex on campus. She took a deep breath, turned toward the bench and gently dropped something on the seat. She looked at it for a moment, took another shaky breath, turned and continued east on Sixth toward her sorority house. In the crosswalk at Line Street a lanky man crossing westbound had to step to the side to avoid her as she strode angrily by. A moment later he stopped at the bench and took a picture of the bench and the strangely centered black sock.

. . .

Twenty-six minutes earlier, inside Alex’s apartment, the slow insertion of a key in the deadbolt made a quiet click click click sound. The lock made a slight scraping noise and a lower pitched clunk. A moment later, the door swung open slowly and Janie poked her head and a shoulder in. She looked around the empty living room and smiled. Alex would have recognized that look as one of anticipatory satisfaction.  Had Alex’s mom seen it, she would have turned away and possibly started blushing.

Janie completed her entrance, closed the door quietly and took off her coat. She hung the coat over a stool at the counter to her left and smiled again when she heard Alex’s voice through the half-closed bedroom door across the room. She slipped off her shoes and pulled her t-shirt off over her head and began tiptoeing toward the bedroom. She stopped for a moment smiling, and reached to her waistband. She heard Alex say, “Five years. We got together in high school.” Her hands froze at the button. “A long damn time,” he said and the look on her face changed. Alex and Alex’s mom would have recognized this look as confusion. She bent down to pick up the previously discarded t-shirt. She had to feel for it because her eyes never left the bedroom door.

“We’re both headed down to Emmett tonight.” Janie could hear the words getting louder. She took six quick steps into the kitchen area. She didn’t hide, but she was in shadow as Alex entered the living room. He was chuckling, holding a phone to his ear as he dropped his black duffel on the living room floor.  He scanned the room as if recording it. He panned past the shadow Janie stood in without seeing her.

“I don’t know. I really don’t. I know that everyone expects it will happen, though.” As Alex turned and walked back through the bedroom door, Janie let out a gust of long-held breath. She remained almost still as her chest expanded and contracted once, twice and a third time before she heard Alex’s voice again. “Yeah. You’re probably right. Anyway. Thanks for hanging on to  it. Was it in your sock drawer for the whole year?”

He re-entered the room with the messenger bag in his hands. He flipped open the flap and pulled out a balled-up pair of socks. “You could have just left the ring. I didn’t need the socks.” He unfurled the socks and a moment later, he was looking at a small vaguely cubical object in his right hand when he said, “These are ugly-ass socks, man.” Janie watched as he put the object back into the sock and balled them together again. “Well, I guess I have to decide.” He opened the messenger bag and put the socks in. He chuckled. Janie recognized it as a rueful chuckle. Alex’s mom might not have recognized it as easily. It was new since he left for college. “Maybe I’ll just flip a fucking coin.” He listened for a moment and then said, “I know. I’ll keep you posted. I gotta go. Have to take the trash out before I leave. There’s half a pan of Janie’s lasagna in there.” He started toward the trash can which was across the kitchen 13 feet from Janie’s shadowed corner. He began pulling the liner from the can. “It’s actually pretty good. Mom gave her the recipe. Yeah. Like always. Later.” He touched the screen of his phone and dropped it in his pocket. Janie’s eyes followed his movement as he tied the top of the white plastic bag and moved toward the door. He didn’t notice Janie’s coat shoes as he passed them. He opened the door and went out, closing the door loudly behind him.

The clunk of the door seemed to activate Janie. She sputtered out a breath and gasped in another. She walked stiffly to the door and slipped into her shoes breathing raggedly the entire time. She put her hand on the doorknob and suddenly stopped. She turned back into the room and looked down. Her expression changed to one that Alex and Alex’s mom would have recognized as defiance. She took three quick steps and crouched down next to the two pieces of luggage. Her head twitched to her right as if about to look at the door but then she reached down, flipped open the messenger bag, took the socks out, separated the pair and briefly held one in each hand as if weighing them. She balled one of them up again and put it back in the bag, flipping the flap back down. Still holding the other sock, she stood up and quickly exited the apartment. The door closed firmly and the floor joists of the empty apartment creaked once in apparent response.

. . .

67 seconds after Janie left, the door opened and Alex re-entered. He looked around the apartment for a moment then stepped toward the duffel and messenger bag. He stopped when his phone vibrated. He pulled the phone out and read the screen for a moment. He turned and looked at Janie’s coat hanging on the stool at the kitchen counter. He said, “Okay Google, Reply. Have fun. Tell Lacey congratulations. Don’t get too drunk. Ha ha. I’ll bring your coat. See you in a couple of days. xoxo.” He looked at the screen, tapped it once, twice and put it in his pocket. He stood there for a moment just breathing. Janie and Alex’s mom would have recognized the posture as one of relief.

A few moments later, Janie was standing at the crosswalk, waiting to cross Moscow-Pullman Road when the phone in her left hand lit up. She struggled to touch the screen while still clutching the sock in her right hand. She was looking at the screen as the traffic light changed. She didn’t move. When she looked up, the flashing don’t walk light was at 18. She stepped out into the crosswalk at 17. She stumbled on the rutted asphalt at 13 but stayed upright. She was across the street at 9. She was headed toward Sixth Street.

. . .

Fourteen minutes later Alex drove through the intersection of Sixth and Jackson headed south.  Janie, who had just crossed Jackson, continued eastbound on foot, as he passed 50 feet behind her. Alex turned south onto the highway out of town and Janie stopped in the pool of light coming out of the window of the coffee shop on Sixth Street at Main. She stood for just a moment before stepping to the door, pulling it open and entering. She walked slowly to the counter. She raised her hand and dropped a small velvet cube onto the glass. As she turned 90 degrees and took a step toward the Main Street exit of the shop, the barista behind the counter said, “Excuse me! What…” Continuing toward the door Janie interrupted, “I found it on the sidewalk.” She walked straight out the door across the width of the sidewalk to the trashcan at the edge, leaned a hand on either side of the opening and threw up into it. Inside the shop, the barista had just opened the velvet box

When Janie turned around, a man pushing a stroller stopped and said, “You okay?” and reached a hand into the carrier slung across the handle of the stroller. She looked up at him with a dazed look that neither Alex nor Alex’s mother would have recognized. The barista closed the box, turned her head and looked out the window toward the exchange on the sidewalk.

“Wacey’s fweind!” exclaimed a cheerful voice from somewhere in the bundle in the seat of the stroller. The man extended a wet wipe toward Janie and said, “It’s a Water Wipe. Unscented.”

Janie took the wipe and said, “Thanks. I’ll be okay.” She wiped her mouth and started down the sidewalk on Main Street away from the cafe while the man stood with a confused look on his face. The bundle started happily chanting “wacey’s fweind, wacey’s fweind, wacey’s fweind…” as the man tried to open the door to the coffee shop. After a moment’s unsuccessful struggle, the door sprung opened as if by magic. Then he saw the barista holding it for him. “Hi Emma!” she said to the bundle in the stroller. She then looked up at Emma’s father and said, “Hi… um, Emma’s dad… sorry I don’t know your name. But. Anyway. Do you know that girl?” Emma’s father maneuvered the stroller into the shop. “No. Should I?” Emma’s father said while Emma continued her chant. The barista explained what had just happened, showing him the box and opening it to reveal a small diamond solitaire ring nestled neatly in the black satin lined slot inside. Leaving Emma, still chanting from her rolling seat just inside the door, they both stepped out onto the sidewalk and looked down Main Street. Janie had already crossed Main Street at Fourth and disappeared past the corner of the consignment shop before they could catch sight of her.

“Wacey’s fwiend, Wacey’s fweind, Wacey’s fwiend,” Emma continued as the barista and Emma’s father stepped back into the shop. “I’m not sure what to,” the barista began and then stopped and crouched down in front of Emma. “Are you saying “Lacey’s friend, Emma?”

“Wacey’s fwiend, Wacey’s fweind, Wacey’s fwiend!” Both adults recognized this as an affirmative response.

“Who is Lacey?” Emma’s father said. “I recognize the name.”

The barista smiled, “Lacey is Emma’s babysitter.”

“Ah,” Emma’s father said. “Yes. Right. Lacey.”

“Emma and Lacey come in here a lot,” the barista said with a slight smile of apology. “Anyway, I’ll ask Lacey about her tomorrow.” She started back toward her place behind the counter, saying, “So, some whipped cream for Emma. Dragonwell tea for you?”

“How did you?” Emma’s father started and then trailed off as he stepped up to the counter.

“Oh, we know lots of things around here,” the barista said with another smile.

. . .

Fifteen hours later, Janie was back in the coffee shop, sitting at a table by the window on Sixth Street. The velvet box was sitting in the middle of the table. A young woman sat across from Janie. She had her left hand extended across the table while her right hand rested on the handle of Emma’s stroller. Just under the volume of the big band music playing on the coffee shop sound system, Emma was saying, “Wacey’s fwiend, Wacey’s fweind, Wacey’s fwiend.”

Lacey said, “You kinda have to give it back to him.”

“I know,” Janie said. “But, ‘flip a fucking coin?'”

Lacey grimaced, looked down at the stroller, shrugged and said, “Well, you do have to give it back to him, but you can still f- mess with him first.” The chant from Emma’s stroller changed, but neither woman was paying attention.

Janie smiled for the first time in just under 16 hours. Had Alex seen it, he might have thought it was a simple smile of mischief. Alex’s mom would not have recognized it, but it probably would have concerned her.

Lacey took in that smile, cocked her head and said, “What?”

Janie held up a finger. pulled out her phone, touched the screen three times and held it to her ear. A moment later she said, “Hi, it’s Janie… Oh I figured but I wanted to call you and say I’m sorry I can’t make dinner tonight. Alex will explain… I – Oh, look, my friend is here, but can you just do me a favor? Can you tell him that I tucked his black socks into his messenger bag? … Oh, he’ll know which pair I mean. Bye. … I’m not sure … Gotta run.” She touched the screen on the phone and set it down on the table next to the velvet box.

The two women sat in silence for a moment. Janie looked at the box. Lacey looked at Janie’s face. In a brief silence between songs as Lacey reached out and swiped a tear from Janie’s cheek with her thumb, the whole coffee shop could now clearly hear Emma’s new chant, “King, Coin, Fuh, King, Coin,Fuh, King, Coin, Fuh, King, Coin, Fuh…”

Both women turned toward Emma then looked back at each other and smiled. Each woman knew exactly the meaning of the smile on the other face.


Blue Knit Glove. East Third Street. They Decided to Leave it.

Certainly, most if not all of the items in these photographs and stories were dropped accidentally and probably under the most mundane circumstances. We can all imagine it. We’ve all lived it. You get out of a car and the glove in your lap falls, unnoticed, to the curb. You reach for your phone to check the time for the 50th time that day and your mitten slips from your coat pocket. You’re transferring laundry to your car and a sock falls from the basket.

Blue Knit Glove.
East Third Street.

I get that. But with these pictures, I have no information about how they ended up where I saw them so I get to imagine less routine events and causes. I’ve already given you a couple of stories with heightened circumstances around an accidental loss. Now let’s imagine an unpaired item – another blue knit glove – which gets left somewhere quite intentionally.


Emma’s mother pushed the stroller up the sidewalk on the north side of Third Street. It was a sunny but frosty morning in early December and they were headed for the park. It was cold, but Emma had expressed a firm interest in “wooking at squirrels.”

“Squirrel, squirrel, squirrel, squirrel,” Emma chanted. As they passed the old high school, the chanting changed. Emma’s mom listened for a moment. Three repeated syllables. “Zone, ants, raw… what on earth?” Emma’s mother said quietly. She leaned forward slightly and listened more closely.

“Zone, ants, rah, zone, ants, rah, zone, ants…” Emma  was bubbling cheerily. Her two hands were in her one blue, knit glove, held out in front of her prayer-style.

Emma’s mother smiled and shook her head once as they continued past the formed concrete retaining wall of the old school’s courtyard. She turned to her left when a flash of blue caught her eye and was struck by the beauty of the frost-covered glove she saw perched on the last pillar of that wall.

. . .

Two days earlier in the late afternoon, Emma was rolling in the same direction on that same patch of sidewalk when she suddenly cried out, “Wonewy Wacey. Wooooneweeee!” Emma and Lacey, the young woman who was pushing the stroller, had just heard the story of the Lonely Snowflake at the bookstore downtown so Lacey was not surprised that Emma’s retentive brain had chosen this topic. But she also knew the tone in Emma’s voice was ominous. She stopped, stepped to the front of the stroller and crouched down in front of Emma to attempt crisis aversion.

“Are you lonely, Emma? I’m right here.”

Emma held up one gloved hand and pointed to it with the other. “Noooo, Wacey. Gwove is wonewy.” One of Emma’s gloves had gone missing a couple of weeks ago, but Emma had been happily putting both hands in the remaining one since then . However, the story of a sad, anthropomorphized crystal of frozen water had apparently changed Emma’s attitude toward the glove’s singleness. Lacey made a quick decision. She pulled out her own pair of blue knit gloves and handed one to Emma. “Here. Now your glove has a friend again.” Emma looked at the two gloves and thought for a moment before nodding judicially. But after just a moment’s hesitation she looked up and pointed to the glove Lacey had retained and said, “Wonewy.”

Lacey immediately chided herself for not getting that glove out of Emma’s field of vision quickly enough. She knew she only had a moment or two left before the crying started. She recognized Emma’s pre-bawling breathing pattern. She looked to her right and seeing the end of the concrete retaining wall, she began to ad lib. She carefully placed the glove on the concrete and ceremoniously intoned, “Go forth and find your blue fingered cousin. End its loneliness. End its pain.” She almost faltered as a lanky man strode by, looking at her with a bemused smile, but she continued, “Go forth. Make two ones into a pair.” Emma’s wide eyes made no move to notice the passerby and she continued to watch as Lacey completed the ritual with a small gesture of blessing over the glove. Lacey had to choke back a laugh when Emma said “Amen” in the solemn silence that followed.

Adult’s Blue Knit Glove.
East Third Street.
Two days earlier.

“Stop the wonewy?” Emma asked seriously. Lacey nodded and waited to see if she had succeeded in her task. Emma scrunched up her face and said, “How work, Wacey?” Now in familiar territory of satisfying Emma’s curiosity about everything, Lacey continued her practice of weaving occasional fictions to stave off tantrums. She immediately said, “Cosmic resonance, Emma. They will connect through cosmic resonance and be together wherever they are. Cosmic. Resonance.” She said the last two words very carefully and seriously.

“Rah . Zone. Ants, Wacey?” Lacey nodded, consciously painting on her face the same judicial seriousness that Emma had used earlier. Emma thought for a moment and then said, “Okay” and smiled. They continued up the hill toward home.