Olivia was very good at finding things. Everyone in her family were finders, mother called it their knack. Helena, her older sister always found the right thing to say, Theo, her younger brother could find the quickest way around the Arrondissement, and her father exceeded in finding trouble, even if he didn’t seek it out.
She wandered through the Market of the Misplaced, passing by tables filled with gears, leather cases for unknown instruments, faded bolts of cloth, their patterns barely moving, carved wooden cages with no doors, baskets of mismatched socks, piles of faded daguerreotypes, half written journals, crystal octagons filled with colored smoke, books desperate to be read, and forgotten toys. Trash to some, treasure to others.
At the end of a winding lane, she found the booth. It was filled with wooden crates and the crates were filled with keys, specifically, lost keys. If something inexplicably disappeared, it could be found in The Market of the Misplaced. Of course finding what was lost was a challenge in of itself, but not for her.
She began rummaging through the keys. They were of almost every variety, and for almost every purpose. Almost. The one she was looking for was not there. It was frustrating, her knack told her that what she was looking for was near, but it was as though it was avoiding being found. Most lost objects desired to be recovered, but this one…
Recalling some advice from her parents, “When you can’t see what you want, look somewhere else.” So she wandered through the aisles, until she found a cart selling hot chocolat and fresh rolls. Ordering one of each, she found a wooden crate to sit on and pondered what to do next.
“Lost something have we?” asked the woman tending the cart.
Olivia looked at her, she was a middle-aged handsome woman, with blonde hair and kind, hazel eyes.
“Hasn’t everyone?” Olivia replied.
The woman laughed and replied, “Well said!”
“This chocolat is quite good, you’ve added something unusual to it.”
“You have sophisticated palate.”
“May I ask what it is?”
“You may ask but I shan’t answer, it’s my special secret.”
“I won’t press you further.”
Olivia took another sip of her chocolat, it was delicious, as was the roll. Perfect for a brisk fall day. She looked again at the cart vendor, she wore a single, dangling earring that resembled falling rain, the silver shone and tarnished in a cascade. The longer she gazed, the more she felt as though she could hear the patter of raindrops.
“It’s hypnotic, isn’t it?”
The vendor’s voice brought her back to where she was.
“Very! Is that made of Nacht Argent?” asked Olivia.
“You’ve a sharp eye,” she said as she topped off the chocolat.
“Merci, but you-“
“Please, I think you got a little lost yourself there.”
Olivia drank her cup and sighed.
“I was careless.”
“Great things never come from caution. At your age, I made any number of mistakes.”
“Not a one, “ the vendor said, “Well, perhaps just one.”
Olivia dipped her roll in the chocolat, sometimes people will tell you more if you don’t interrupt them. The vendor filled an order for a pair of Tête de Bâtiments and turned back to her.
“This earring had a sister, it was made of Tag Aurous. Sadly, I lost it one night.”
“But you are in the right place to find it.”
“I’ve looked, but fortune hasn’t smiled on me, at least as far as that is concerned.”
“Would you like me to try?”
“Oh no, it’s too much to ask, I’m sure it’s dangling from someone else’s ear.”
“I’m very good a finding things, let me try.”
“So you have-“
“Oui, a family trait.”
“That would be wonderful, but hiring you might be beyond my means.”
“Normally it would, but I find myself at loose ends at the moment, so I’ll do it for a free cup of your remarkable chocolat.”
“If you can find it, you will always be my guest.”
“Done!” said Olivia whose feet had found a new path.