Saturday 24 June 2023

'The Lost and Found of Other Places' by T. L. Sherwood

The employees at Iidabashi Station sort and tag thousands of objects left behind on Tokyo’s subways and trains. On a whim, I call and describe the day I visited, an extended layover really, and how when I arrived, I made what was then a long-distance phone call. I had used an arcane pay telephone on a wall of several. The tiles were the palest blue, or maybe it was the light.

A bored voice interrupts, “What is it you lost?”

“I was twenty-three and called home. I expected to talk to my mom, but she wasn’t in even though she should have been, and I’d worked out the time differences in my head and I was angry at her. She’d gone shopping. She had no idea I would be surprise calling her, but I left a rather snippy voice mail and it must have hurt her and that day popped into my head with such aching regret. On a subsequent trip, a two-week vacation I studied for, I learned that wasuremono meant forgotten things and that’s your department, so I’m wondering if I left behind any clue as to how I can make amends to her now that she’s dead?”

After rushing through the words to avoid crying on the phone to a stranger like some idiot, I expect the young man to hang up on me, leave me to the tears of sorrow, but he asks me to hold while he checks.

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