The Goddess of Lost Things was the first thing I wrote and finished in 2013. It was during a time when I wasn’t writing much fiction, so it was such an achievement to just finish a story. This isn’t quite like the other stories I’ve published so far. It’s definitely not a contemporary romance. But I hope you still enjoy reading it.
“They all go to me, you know,” she says, as she slowly sips from her wineglass. The amber fluid sparkles as it catches the light, like effervescent honey, if there was such a thing. “All the lost things. They go to me.”
She lifts her wineglass and offers it to me. “Take this for instance. It’s wine that was left to ferment too long in an oak barrel, way back in 1865. Normally, it should’ve gone bad. But some fluke turned it into a heady, sweet mead whose taste only lives on in the memory of the young apprentice who stumbled upon the cask. He was trying to look cool in front of one of the serving girls at the vineyard, so he drew from the cask, not knowing what it held. A sip was all he took. Despite the magnificence of the wine, the charms of his serving girl were sweeter, so he forgot. It went to me instead.”
“The wine you mean? The cask was sent to you?” I ask, confused. The girl was sylph-like. Ageless. Her eyes glimmered with barely suppressed laughter, but she was far from perfect. She had a small gap between her two front teeth and she was wearing mismatched socks.
“No, not really,” she shakes her head. “Well, in a way, I guess you could say that. But it’s not really the cask in the physical sense, but the taste itself. While our apprentice has forgotten the perfect blend of sweetness, acidity and muskiness of the wine as it tickled the back of his throat, it shall forever be captured here in my realm.” She drains the rest of the wine in one swig.
“I wish I could also know the taste of her lips as he kissed her. The sound of her voice as he pushed her against the wine casks. The feel of her as they fell to the ground, desperately grasping at each other, their limbs entangled to the point that you can’t tell where one begins and ends, joined by an all-consuming passion,” she says wistfully. “But some things are too dear to you humans. Some things you hold on to forever, locked in your memories. Never to be forgotten. Never lost.”
“Come. Walk with me,” she beckons, slipping a hand on the crook of my arm, leading me through a long, narrow corridor. “I wish I could say everything comes here in the end but who am I kidding? My house can only hold so much. So, tell me. What are you looking for?”
“I don’t really know,” I tell her, shaking my head. “I don’t even know what I’m doing here. Maybe I shouldn’t even be here. Someone just told me that you might be able to help me, so here I am.”
“You’ve forgotten.” She says it casually. Matter-of-fact, like there was no other explanation.
“I’ve forgotten what?” I ask, confused.
“You’ve forgotten why you’re here.” She smiles at me, her eyes staring into mine — dark, bottomless and full of lost things. “I know.”
“Can you help me remember then?” It’s a struggle to tear my eyes off hers. But when I do, my heart swells with longing for things I don’t even remember.
“I can. But what will you give me?” She gestures for me to take a seat in a plush, wing-backed chair as she stretches in a matching chaise longue.
“I don’t have money—” I start, but she interrupts me. “What will I do with money? I don’t need it. Give me something else. Something only you can give me. Perhaps the Thursday you lost during the week you sprained your ankle tripping on an outstretched electrical plug? The flip-flopping of your stomach when you bungee jumped off a deep ravine on a dare? The smell of bread baking in your Grandmother’s oven—”
“Anything. Pick anything you want,” I tell her, slightly creeped out by how it seems like she knows everything about me.
“Anything? Really?” She smiles her mischievous gap-toothed smile. But it slowly softens into something gentler. Something kinder. She leans forward to whisper in my ear and I remember—
The Goddess sits in a plush chaise longue. It is worthy of a queen. Actually, it did belong to the Queen of an ancient country that has been erased by history, save in the memory of one old lady who, as a child, witnessed the country being devoured by the sea.
She gets up and goes to a musty old armoire, clutching his payment. Too bad, she thinks. He seemed really pleasant, that last one. It would’ve been nice if he stayed longer. Even just a minute more. She just gets so lonely at times, even a minute feels like a lifetime.
She smiles as she thinks of him. At least, she had company for an afternoon. For once, she wasn’t alone. She opens the armoire to store his payment, identical to many of those who have come before him: the memory of meeting a goddess.