“When did you know you were lost?” he asked.
“I don’t remember.” She shook her head and looked at the policeman. “I called for my husband, but he wasn’t there.”
Her wrinkled hand searched in her handbag and got out a yellowed envelope with a sea star drawn on the back side of it.
“This letter is very important,” she said. “But I don’t remember why. Will you read it for me, please? I can’t find my glasses.”
The policeman opened the envelope.
“It’s empty,” he said. “Maybe it’s in the bag.”
The old lady turned her bag over and shook it. A thread of beads, a leather purse with some coins and a seascape postcard fell out.
“This must be it,” said the policeman and read the postcard aloud.
I am getting better. The doctors say in three weeks I will be able to walk again. I can’t wait, I miss you so much. I will come to you right away.
“He never did,” she said. ”I remember now. He died on the day I received this letter.”
“I’m so sorry”, the policeman said. “Heart attack?”
“No, he was shot at the war.”
The policeman looked at the date on the envelope. 1945.
“She must be around ninety,” he thought. “Well, she looks the whole hundred.”
“The letter’s sent from Stanley Jackson. Is it your husband’s name?”
“We never got married. We wanted, of course. After his death I had to marry another man.”
“Sent to Anna Wagner.” The policeman shook his head. “Certainly, you have moved from this address. Ma’am, please, try to remember your husband’s name.”
“He called me Annie. But he didn’t love me. This is why I left him.”
“When did you leave him?”
“When I saw him kissing the maid. She was young, and he made her his mistress. Such a shame!”
The policemen rubbed his forehead. “But you said you called for your husband and he wasn’t there.”
“Oh, I called him to say my son died in a car crash. But he wasn’t there. He was at the ski resort.”
The policeman dialed a number on his telephone. “Send me someone from social service. The lady needs some place to stay. It will take a while. She doesn’t remember anything.”
“I remember everything. Every minute of the funeral, every second of it. It was the last time when I saw my boy. He loved sea stars, just like his father. I put the sea star Stanley sent me into his coffin. That day I lost everything. Yes, I remember now. On that very day I knew I was lost.”
“Hey Johnny!” Another policeman entered the room. “We received a phone call. Anna Mattson is missing in the Maple Road Nursing Home. She got lost during the group excursion on the seaside. The description fits, the patient has Alzheimer’s. It must be her. ”
“Yes, it must be her. Tell them we found her.”
“You found me, you think,” she sighed. “It’s an empty shell, my boy. Please help me to get up from this chair.”