Flash Fiction: I think you should have this.

Inspired by twitter, again! From this tweet and some response to it. https://twitter.com/tylikcat/status/1377991325195309062
TL;DR, when I lose things, I like to make up stories in my head about the person who eventually finds it. And Dr. Kehr lost a Labrys Pendant.
Also, I generally make it a point to NOT use my own name for character’s names. I tried to name Alex a dozen other things, but she refused. Sigh.

“I got something!”

Alex smiled at the exclamation, and started walking toward the source, a lanky girl in cargo shorts and well worn tshirt, long hair held in place by large earphones attached to a box on a pole that she was swinging back and forth over the tall marshy grass.

“I think it’s non ferrous!” Jane waved one hand in a come here motion, aimed roughly towards Alex, while swinging the box over an increasingly smaller spot. “Yeah! Definitely not iron. Might be gold!” Not getting a response, Jane looked up and around, finally spotting Alex as she slowly ambled forward. “Alex andra! C’MON!”

Alex’s smile deepened to a grin. Jane had always said her name like that, as if it were a first and middle name, but lately it had been doing odd things to her stomach every time she heard it. She flickered back and forth between watching her footing, and watching her friend standing there, waiting impatiently with hand on her hip and metal detector now over her shoulder.

“Okay, I’m here!” Alex put down the sifter box she was holding, and readied her small hand shovel. “Where is it?”

Jane sighed in mock frustration. “Right here!” She tapped a spot with her foot, then stepped back. “What were you doing back there, cloud gazing?”

Alex bent down on one knee, working the shovel through the matted grass, placing several scoops of loose, sandy mud into the box. Turning her head away from Jane to hide her blush, she tried and failed to casually remark. “I just… uh… Like watching you work.”

The sudden cease of sound was louder than any sound Jane could have made. In constant motion, ceaselessly fidgeting and moving in small ways, Alex could always zero in on where Jane was from the rustle. She looked up to see Jane frozen, a red blush warring with the strands of red hair hair floating free of the earphones, now down around her neck. As Alex starting looking up, Jane’s face tilted abruptly downward towards the small hole between them. She swung the metal detector over the spot, watching the dial between her hands. “Umm… I think you got it, I’m not getting a signal.”

Not trusting her voice, Alex nodded, picking up the shaker box and making it live up to its name. Sand and mud slowly fell from the bottom while she pulled strands of grass off the top, tossing them aside. A small lump at the bottom glittered darkly as mud broke around it, and Alex plucked it out, putting the box down. “Got something. Water, please?”

Jane knelt down and Alex had her own turn at stiffening suddenly, the feel of Jane’s hair falling against the back of her neck, the sun shaded by an impromptu umbrella they shared. Jane pulled a small tube from its holster on her shoulder, squeezing the end so that water flowed from her backpack canteen over the object in Alex’s hands. Mud washed away revealing a small silver pendant, grey and dusky with tarnish, but the features still clear.

“Is that… a battle axe? Who would wear a battle axe necklace?”

Brushing the rest of the mud off and drying the pendant with a cloth pulled from her pocket, Alex looked up into the face hovering inches above her. “Kinda. It’s a Labrys.”

The pair stood staring at each other a moment, before Jane awkwardly rose to her feet, backing away a step. “La breece? Is it Spanish?”

Eager to be the one sharing knowledge for once, Alex slowly stood as well. “No, Greek. Labrys. One word. Its a double headed axe. It has… meanings.”

“Again, who would wear a battle axe pendant?”

Alex stood there, turning the small silver pendant over and over in her fingers, and turning memories of the swiftly fading summer over and over in her mind. Watching Jane talk animatedly about the plans she found online for a metal detector. Sitting in the hot, sweaty garage on a rickety old bar stool while Jane cut, glued, soldered, and swore. Testing the device out together in Alex’s backyard before finally trekking out on day trips to woods and meadows nearby. The way they Jane kept catching her staring, and the way she kept spotting Jane in the corner of her eyes, gazing back at her when she thought Alex wasn’t looking. The first piece of silver they had found together a few weeks back.

She came to decision suddenly, and reached into her hair, tugging loose a long string that she usually used to tie it back into a braid. She threaded it into a small loop at the base of the labrys, and held it out towards Jane, hands a foot apart. “I think it would look really good on you, actually?”

Jane bit her lower lip, eyes widening in shock. Alex kept waiting for her to say something, anything, but she just bit down harder, like she didn’t trust words at the moment. Finally, still without a word, Jane leaned the home made metal detector against her leg, taking the headphones off and hooking them onto the handle. She held her hair up and away from her neck and closed her eyes as Alex stepped forward and tied the string loosely around her neck before quickly stepping back. Jane opened her eyes, disappointment and relief both crossing her face at the same time, causing Alex’s stomach to flutter again, her mind spinning, wondering what Jane was thinking.

Jane took the pendant in two fingers, looking at it closely. “Meanings. What kind of meanings?”

Alex fingered the ring on her right hand, feeling the tooled shape of the heart, the spikes of the crown, the fingers of the hands holding the two. That was exactly what she had said to Jane when, on finding the ring, Jane had said it looked the perfect size for her fingers, and gave it her, telling her that it was an Irish symbol, and had different meanings.

She looked Jane dead in the eye, and with a slight smirk, repeated exactly what Jane had said then. “Oh, things. You should look it up when you get home tonight.”

Jane looked sharply back at Alex, and then down to the glinting silver on Alex’s finger, the heart on the ring facing away from her palm, the crown against the back of her first knuckle. “Did…” Her voice cracked and she swallowed hard. “Did you?”

Alex found her fingers shaking as, eyes boring into Jane’s, not looking down at her hands, she slid the ring off, and, reversing it, slid it back into place, heart pointing towards her. She nodded slowly. “Yes, yes I did.”

***

It was early afternoon, sunlight just starting to filter through the windows, and Dr. Kehl stopped suddenly, her fingers frozen on her phone. Without thinking, her hand crept up to her collarbone, feeling a shape and weight there that had been absent for far longer than it had ever been present. A smile crept across her face, and a single tear of joy formed in the corner of one eye, making the world shimmer. She was furiously happy and content in the moment, though she never would know the reason why.

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