This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Miami International Airport’s Lost & Found facility’s location and hours of operation are as follows:
For information on lost and found items call: 305-876-7377. Hours: 8:00am to 6:00pm daily (365 days a year). Location: level 4.
But for thirty days plus nobody came. Not the little five year old girl from whose sleepy arms the teddy bear slipped when she was carried off the airplane by her harried mother, nor her mother or anyone else for that matter. It sat unclaimed but admired by staff on a shelf sandwiched between a brightly multi-coloured nylon rucksack named ‘Mabel’ (it had a label saying ‘if found please return to Mabel’, but nothing more) and a vintage blue Jantzen one-piece swimsuit.
The staff in Lost & Found to the side of the terminal’s bustling concourse would often pick up the teddy and give it a squeeze. They would study its brief paperwork hoping that some new clue would be there that would help them reunite it with its owner. The information that accompanied the teddy was minimal. It noted the airline and flight that it was handed over to from American Airlines and the airport of origin of that flight; New York’s JFK. So thirty plus days later they were none the wiser. One thing they all eventually noticed that they hadn’t at first, the teddy had a tiny, pretty blue-coloured rhinestone attached to the inside upper fold of one of its ears. The day they discovered that glimmering stone they began to refer to the teddy as ‘Lonely Sapphire’.
So every day was the same. The teddy sat on that shelf between Mabel and the rolled up blue Jantzen swimsuit with their little dockets of identifying paperwork. The staff would come along every few days to where they rested unwanted and unclaimed and push another lost object onto the shelf so the items would all bunch up closer. More luridly coloured rucksacks would join them along with sunglasses, baby bottles, hats, umbrellas, walking sticks, wallets, foam neck rests and even more stuffed toys. Every time one of the clerks in Lost & Found completed an item’s paperwork and placed it on the shelf they would stop and admire the teddy, pick it up, squeeze it, run their hands over its soft brown curly teddy bear fur and say, “You’d think somebody would be missing Lonely Sapphire by now wouldn’t you? What a shame.” and they would gently push the teddy back in between its forgotten shelf mates.
One day Mabel was found, re-claimed by the family who owned her. Now the teddy and the blue Jantzen swimsuit kept each other company. They were perhaps the longest guests on the Lost & Found shelf they occupied in the depot. Neither could know what was to become of them. After thirty days arrangements are made for items, these long-left items. Few really know what those ‘arrangements’ might really be. The staff couldn’t readily lay personal claim to these left things, retrieved from airline seats and from nooks and crannies of the vast areas of the airport itself.
A few days passed since Mabel had vacated the shelf leaving a bit of room for the other items to spread out, but not for long. More abandoned and overlooked things were brought in; a long blonde wig, a snorkel, yet more children’s ruck sacks and stuffed toys, glass eyeballs and one morning a faux fur bedspread (!). Lost & Found was an amazing place.
A woman stepped into the office one day. She was an older lady, tanned, sophisticated and somewhat embarrassed. She’d come for the blue Jantzen. The swimsuit was removed from the teddy’s side along with its little bit of paperwork and taken to the counter and presented to the lady. A few questions were asked of her about the circumstance of the lost blue Jantzen.
“It would appear this swimming costume slipped out of my carry-on luggage on my Jet Blue flight from St. Maarten to Miami. How I don’t know but I’m so glad it was found and turned into you.” the woman said in a breathy relieved voice, “I looked everywhere for it and frankly I was resigned to the fact that it was now gone for good until it was suggested by a friend only recently that I contact you here at Lost & Found et voila!” she beamed and held out her blue Jantzen letting it unfurl and inspecting it.
“May I ask,” ventured the counter clerk as she entered signing off information into the computer, “just how ‘vintage’ is that swimsuit?”
“Oh my dear,” the woman answered, “I was given it when I was just a girl by an aunt before Santa Claus could even have grown his white beard! In a few years it will go from vintage to positively antique I should imagine! Thank you for taking care of it. I’ve lost this before a very, very, very long time ago and I don’t intend on letting it from my sight again. ”
“Not at all. It’s spent its time here with us next to that lonely teddy on that shelf.” the clerk chuckled and drew the woman’s attention to where the swimsuit had spent over a month.
“Oh my, what a lovely little fellow that is. May I see it?” the woman asked gazing behind the clerk at the teddy.
“Well, okay. I suppose you can have a look at Lonely Sapphire.”
“That’s what we call the teddy. Lonely Sapphire,” the clerk said turning and stepping over to the shelf areas, “on account that it’s probably the longest left item we have here now that you’ve claimed your ‘swimming costume’?”
The clerk handed the teddy to the woman. She accepted it with a gentle curiosity. She turned it around inspecting it much like she had done her beloved swimsuit.
“Oh it is so charming.” she stated and held the teddy’s soft brown furry body close to her cheek. She cuddled it and then held it away to study its face. She smiled at its light beige snout and little toffee coloured nose. “But you can’t see its eyes.”
She moved the teddy’s curling fur above its snout to reveal two dark brown, hard plastic eyes with deep polished glints. There was a tag the colour of the teddy’s snout on its brown furry bum that read ‘Gund (with a registered trademark symbol), Bradley, The Borders Bear TM, 46100.’
“Well. This teddy was once from a book store someplace.” the woman suggested.
“According to our paperwork we know that it arrived on an American Airlines flight from New York and that’s about it.” the clerk offered as she too peered at the little label.
“Do you think it will ever find a home?” the woman asked with quiet concern. A sad tone fell across the counter between her and the clerk. She inspected the teddy’s ears and discovered the little blue stone. “What’s this?”
“Oh. That’s why we call it Lonely Sapphire, because of that pretty little blue rhinestone. ‘Lonely Rhinestone’ doesn’t have the same romance to it does it?” the clerk replied and made to accept the teddy back from the woman.
“What will happen to it if nobody claims it?” the woman asked handing it over.
“Well, any number of things I suppose. But we’d hate for it to be discarded and destroyed.”
“Oh, I do love beautiful things.” the woman declared wistfully resting a last gaze on the teddy, “If you said I could leave with it today I would be sorely tempted. But I haven’t any grandchildren to give this little bear to more is the shame.”
The woman said goodbye to the teddy and the clerk at Miami International’s Lost & Found hoping it would find its rightful home before someone realised the lonely little teddy bore a far greater value than Lost & Found knew.
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