The little lost toy was a tiny person. It struggled to get up on the bench and finally made it. Ah! The view was much better: he could see way more in all directions. There was a gurgling fountain to the right and a big moss covered rock to the left. It had just rained and he could see water droplets hanging precariously from the tips of leaves all around.
Flowers held the rainwater on their petals and in their centre like clear glass beads. He could see pretty butterflies and dragonflies flitting about. Squirrels chased each other around, scurrying so fast that you could barely keep up watching them. Birds shook water off their feathers and flapped their wings a few times before sallying forth in pursuit of the dragonflies.
And, of course, there were people about on the green grass, which is why he was here in the first place. Big people. Not tiny ones like him. Everyone was big. Even the kids were all big, though young. Babies in strollers, their eyes sparkling, looked around wide-eyed and laughed delightedly watching the birds, and played with butterflies, dogs and other people. The whole world was alive with energy. He felt it pulsating through his little heart too.
The people busily went about doing whatever they were doing. Some strolled around; some played with their children or dogs; some sat cosily leaning on each other with their fingers entwined. Some who were old sat around on benches and looked out on the bright world with wise eyes. Some looked around vacantly with extinguished eyes, staring but not seeing. He saw that many people were with someone: other people, dogs and children. Some people had earphones plugged into their ears, others had books, Frisbees, balls and other toys in their hands; while yet others were busy with their phone screens. He saw only a very few who sat quietly, alone, separate from the others, simply observing avidly. ‘What must they be thinking?’ He wondered.
At length, he wondered how he came to be in this park. He could not remember. Where was home? He did not remember what yesterday had been like. Maybe it was the same as today; waiting in the park to be found. Surely, he came from someplace and was going someplace? But where from and where to? The little lost toy wondered wistfully if there really was a person somewhere who had lost him. After all, he was the little lost toy, right? He sucked in a breath as a horrible thought struck him: what if he was not someone’s little lost toy, but just a toy? A toy who belonged to no one? Who fell out of a bag of toys that a shopkeeper was carrying to his toy shop? Or a toy that fell out of a truck at a speed breaker? Or worse, a blemished toy that was thrown out when the quality control man came by and rejected him? It was possible, since the little lost toy could not remember belonging to anyone. All he could say with certainty was that he was made in a factory with many other toys just like him. He busied himself looking for blemishes and could not find any.
Toys are meant to be played with, he reasoned. And, therefore, they must be companions to someone. ‘I had better find the person who lost me. They must be distraught!’ he said aloud. ‘I think someone forgot me on this bench. They will come by surely looking for me. I only need to wait a while.’ He settled down more comfortably on the bench, brimming with expectation. As the minutes turned into hours and the sun crept across the sky, the little lost toy’s expectation changed slowly to anxiety. When the sun began to dip in the west and the shadows lengthened, he became agitated and fearful. The seed of doubt that had germinated had grown to a question with jagged edges: Was no one looking for him?
Not ready to give up, he said to himself, ‘Well then, if no one is yet looking for me, I guess I had better find someone who is going to want to!’ He jumped off the bench and headed for a little girl in his line of sight. ‘Have you lost me?’ he enquired. Again and again he repeated the query to many people who looked at him in amazement and then shook their heads. Finally, exhausted and forlorn, he trudged to a pool of light under a street lamp, plonked himself on the grass and stretched his tired little legs. ‘I must be weird,’ he thought dejectedly. ‘Why else would people gape at me open-mouthed?’ But a tiny voice inside his heart knew he was not weird. He was who he was: different.
‘You lost?’ asked a voice from the surrounding darkness. He jumped, startled.
‘Yes… No… Maybe,’ he stammered. A big kind-looking man with intelligent eyes entered the pool of light and looked down at him. ‘Hmmm…?’ he raised an eyebrow questioningly.
‘I mean, I am not lost. Someone lost me, you see,’ the little toy explained. ‘I know someone is looking for me out there because I am waiting to be found. I am going to help them by trying to find whoever it was that lost me, though I don’t remember who it was.’
‘And how will you do that?’ he asked, amused. ‘It could be me who lost you!’
‘I guess so,’ the toy agreed. Then, after a pause, asked hopefully, ‘Did you?’
‘No,’ said the man. ‘But I could have, if you were mine.’
They both thought about that for a while.
Then the toy who had new doubts creeping into his mind said, ‘Or maybe no one is looking yet, but that may be because they don’t know I am waiting for them to find me.’
The man was in no hurry. He considered the odd little creature with so much worry and earnestness in its words. He sat down beside the toy and soon the two strangers began to talk. They talked about the stars and the moon. About yesterday and tomorrow. They agreed that today was their favourite day, for they were together. They philosophized about friendship and joy; laughter and tears; hopes and expectations; black holes and new universes; the deep sea and fantastic creatures. They talked about going off on adventures and exploratory expeditions to new places.
The little toy’s heart was filled with love and gratitude. Maybe they could make marvelous new memories! And discoveries. And find meaning and purpose as they went along. That sounded exciting.
‘Does it matter if I found you even though you hadn’t lost me?’ the toy asked in a small voice when the night was at its darkest and quietest.
‘No. It’s not necessary to lose before you find,’ said the man. ‘Sometimes, it’s okay to just find and keep. Or be found.’
The toy smiled a thousand watt smile. Reaching out, the man’s large warm fingers closed around the toy’s small cold hands.
An adventure had begun.