Missing fingers

Confused, she stood before me in the road with one glove on. “Please,” she asked, “have you seen a glove? A green leather one. I’ve dropped it somewhere on that road.” She gestured with her naked hand up the long rainy hill behind us. I gave the most British of apologies and continued past her, quickening my step. “Let me know if you see it! I’ve seen you here before!” she called out as I retreated. Bowing my head, marching along, I felt the winter wind rushing past me, taking my breath before I’d even exhaled. And my downcast eyes snagged on a bit of green leather lying forlorn beside the curb.

Now I was involved, you see. It was a good glove, neatly stitched, a sort of mossy military green. Not the sort you’d want to lose. So I resolved, against my better judgement, to see that it was returned.

I kept the glove in the inside pocket of my favourite jacket, moving it into my blazer pocket in the summer. Always accessible and ready for its moment of return. And as the years went on, oh how that moment would play out more beautifully, how the owner would be amazed at my tenacity, so grateful. We would probably go for coffee.

At work I printed a batch of ‘Found’ posters, using up my printer credits to ensure a faithful reproduction of the green colour. The wind and rain soon ripped them from the telegraph poles where they had been crucified.

After three years of regular walks up and down that hill, not once had I bumped into the glove lady again. Once I spotted a young woman on the Tube who looked just like her, shorter hair. Had nice ivory hands, the green would have looked just peachy against them so I’m sure it was her. Didn’t make it though – she got on the next train before I could reach her through the crowd.

My browser history became increasingly populated with glovemakers, department store branches and social media accounts of accessory promoters. The only clue I had to my glove’s providence was the letter ‘G’ delicately embroidered into the cuff, an initial or a brand I could not fathom.

I walked as often as possible, leaving the house early to avoid driving the car and potentially missing out on a chance encounter with glove lady. I became fitter.

As the years passed I felt sure that green leather gloves were going out of fashion, unsure whether this would help me in my search by narrowing down the field, or make it more difficult because glove lady was less intent on finding her missing glove, and consequently may have slowed down her search for me.

I was offered a promotion at work but would have to relocate to the West Country. I turned it down.

At my son’s wedding I was momentarily distracted by a guest who was the spitting image of glove lady. A sharp nudge in my side made me realise that I was staring intently at her across the pews, evaluating the shape of her chin and whether twenty years would have changed her that much. Besides, her hands were all wrong. They wouldn’t have looked good in green. Her hair was redder in my memory, her nose lightly freckled; glove lady had the air of a mountain goat picking her way across the urban landscape, all bones and gravity and dignity.

No failure had ever haunted me more greatly, as I lay frail in my final weeks. The nurse received a torrent of abuse for moving the glove from my bedside, causing a momentary panic. There was nothing for it, I would have the wear the thing, to protect it. To protect myself. I slid the glove onto my left hand, its silkiness so familiar, so deeply satisfying that it was as though my whole body were cocooned warmly in the glove, snuggled in the womb. It fit perfectly. I closed my eyes.

Written by Emma611.

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