Chelsea Voulgares ~ Lost & Found

I’d been wan­der­ing the mall for hours, so I vis­it­ed the man at the Lost & Found. I’m miss­ing my friend, I said.

You can see we don’t have any adult women here. He ges­tured toward the met­al racks of gloves and hats. Someone’s walk­ing cane. An umbrel­la stroller. Other than you, of course. He chuck­led to him­self. Harharhar.

She smells like oranges, and she has a mole above her lip she tries to cov­er with foun­da­tion. It’s too big for that, I said.

He blinked.

We once went ski­ing and she broke her leg, and I took her to the hos­pi­tal. I stayed at her apart­ment after to make sure she didn’t trip on her rugs. I made Penne and helped put on her bootie.

I’d be hap­py to page her, he said. See if she’s still in the mall?

He wasn’t under­stand­ing me. I kissed her broth­er, I said, but he kissed me first. There was the time I drank too much gin and barfed in her snake plant, and the time I missed her missed her fla­men­co recital. I apol­o­gized, though. Every time.

Is she hard of hear­ing? We could send out one of the secu­ri­ty guards to look for her.

I shook my head. I’ve sent her texts. I’ve called, but she’s blocked me on Facebook and Twitter and prob­a­bly Insta too but I don’t even know if you can block peo­ple there.

What I real­ly want­ed to say, and for this stranger to real­ly hear me, was that my friend’s silence was a flay­ing, that I felt as if even the air from the vent near his desk left bruis­es inside my body, and that I could not fig­ure out how to turn back time.

Instead I stood there skin­less, my use­less phone in my hand, while the man blushed, embar­rassed, final­ly real­iz­ing what I meant. He scoot­ed his chair so he no longer faced me. Returned to his Sudoku.


Chelsea Voulgares lives just out­side Chicago, where she is the Editor in Chief of Lost Balloon. Her work has appeared in jour­nals such as Passages North, Electric Literature, Cheap Pop, and X‑R-A‑Y. You can find her online at or on Twitter @chelsvoulgares.