It had been a long day. With only an hour to go, my weary eyes flickered from the clock to my work, and back to the clock. My hands continued to lift items from the boxes, but my mind was only half aware of those items. It wasn’t the brown leather jacket that grabbed my fading attention, but the contents of the pockets. At first, rummaging through someone’s pockets had seemed like an invasion of privacy. But after the days and weeks of having to look for any sign of the owner, I had become accustomed to this part of my job.
Time had cracked the leather along the edges and frayed the lining. Inside the pockets, I fished out a scrunched up tissue. Just as I dropped it into the bin along with the countless other pieces of rubbish, out rolled a white stick. A pregnancy test stick. Leaning in to grab it, a piece of chewing gum stuck to my gloves. But I didn’t care; the stick was positive.
With a new pair of gloves on, the stick still in my hand, I stared at the two lines. So many questions bubbled to the surface of my thoughts. What had happened to this woman? Did she have the baby? Who is she?
My hands trembled as I placed the stick on my desk, on top of a fresh tissue. I went back to the jacket, nervous for what else I might find. This time, out of the pocket fell a crimson lipstick and piece of folded up paper. As I unfolded the thin sheet, I saw the words, written with an eyeliner pencil: ‘Dear Vince’
But there was no message to this Vince. Just the brown ring of a coffee cup and splodges of what could only have been tears. The questions buzzed in my mind, so many, I could not process them all.
Staring at the scrawled letters, I wondered if they would have ever been read by Vince. Was she going to finish the letter? Or was it destined to be lost, here or dumped in a bin?
Whoever this girl was, something told me that she wouldn’t want to find this jacket. She wouldn’t want to stare at the two lines on the little stick; she wouldn’t want to open up the words she couldn’t finish and she wouldn’t want to run her finger over her own tears of the past.