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A Gift Gone Missing

She lost her crystal earring just as she was to transfer to another train. Was it a lost cause?

By Aline Newman, Turin, New York

As appeared in

From Utica, New York, to Portland, Oregon, my husband, Neil, and I were crossing the country on Amtrak. A whistle sounded as we approached the station where we’d change trains. I tucked my hair behind my ear and felt a bare lobe. “Neil!” I said, jumping out of my seat. “My crystal earring fell out!”

Neil had just recently given me this pair of earrings to replace another pair I’d lost. The white gold hoops–each with a dangling, crystal-encrusted heart–were the prettiest set he’d ever given me. Oh, Lord, don’t tell me I’ve done it again.

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“Should I take this personally?” Neil asked.

“Very funny. Help me look for it!” I ran my hand between the seat cushions. Neil shone a pocket flashlight along the floor. Nothing. Just then, the train’s rhythmic swaying ceased.

“We can’t miss our transfer,” Neil said. We grabbed our bags and scrambled to catch the next train. I was heartsick as we settled into our new compartment. I tucked the remaining hoop into my travel case. “I’m sorry,” I said. The train sped out of the station, leaving my precious earring behind.

That night Neil climbed into the top bunk while I pulled back the covers on the bottom one–and gasped. Between the sheets was my missing earring! How was it possible? Had it fallen out of my clothes? Been tangled in my hair? We’ll never know. Hopefully it’s the last pair of earrings Neil has to buy me.


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