When we first moved to Charleston, which was at the very beginning of 2003, we moved into the ground floor of a large grey house downtown, a house with a wrought-iron gate that made up for the fact that the kitchen was essentially just a countertop and an oven in the living room, and that the only electrical sockets in the whole apartment were, bizarrely, halfway up the wall.
A few months after we'd moved in, my mother sent me a package containing some pearl earrings. I'd been saying for a while, I guess, that I'd like some pearl earrings, that they might be good for job interviews---my reasoning being, since I was 22, that what I lacked in experience, I could make up for in tasteful jewelry---and so she sent me a pair as a surprise. They arrived in the mail and I wore them for a few months, and then suddenly one day I couldn't find them.
I looked everywhere. I mean, seriously, I looked everywhere. At first, I looked in drawers and cupboards and jewelry boxes and makeup bags, in the obvious places where I could certainly be forgiven for thinking a pair of pearl earrings might hide. Then I got a little desperate and searched the freezer and the garbage cans, between the pages of novels, the barrel of the washing machine, the laundry hamper, the insides of all my shoes. I couldn't understand it: one day I took my pearl earrings off and laid them on my bedside table, the next day they were gone.
The searching went on for two or three weeks, until I finally gave the earrings up for dead. I'd lost them forever, I figured, one of those things you eventually just accept and stop obsessing over. They were great earrings while they lasted, I told myself folornly. Maybe they'd impressed a job interviewer or two.
One morning, about three weeks to the day after I'd first noticed them missing, I got up, made some coffee, and took a shower. Upon entering the bedroom from the bathroom, cucooned in a towel with hair wet and that slight squint particular only to short-sighted people who haven't yet put their contact lenses in, my gaze was immediately---and I can't express how immediately, how urgently---drawn to my bedside table. There sat my pearl earrings, plain as day.
And here's the really weird part: they looked so carefully placed there, so perfectly positioned, like someone had measured the distance between them with a ruler, making sure that both backs faced in the same direction, that both pearls faced forwards. They were at the front of the table, right in the middle, and they looked like they'd been put there, for lack of a better word, lovingly.
It was one of the most surreal and bizarre moments of my entire life. Ten minutes before, I'd woken up and they hadn't been there---hell, for three whole weeks they hadn't been there---and yet mysteriously, while I was in the shower, they'd reappeared.
Sean had left for work early that morning and I called him immediately. "Did you find my earrings?" I asked him. "Did you find them while I was sleeping and put them on my bedside table?" No, he said, he hadn't.
So how had they got there?
That's up to you, Internet; you can decide whatever you want. My own theory is that some sweet Southern belle who'd died years before had needed to borrow something pretty to wear, perhaps because her husband had just passed away and she was about to be reunited with him. I like to think she saw my earrings, thought "ooh, I'll just borrow these for a little while," and then came and put them back---like a good Southern belle would do; in fact, it's a wonder she didn't leave a thank you note on monogrammed stationery---once she was done with them, making sure to leave them in the exact place I'd be sure to find them.
So, feeling a little silly, I said a quick but effusive thank you out loud. I like to think that she heard me.