Mamma had a love for other people's things. People should take care of their possessions, she would say, or someone else will.
"Careful, child. Mind your feet."
I paused, my foot hovering above the floor. Mamma bent down and picked up the object lying there. A single earring, silver, a green stone dangling from the base.
Mamma shook her head. "Mrs. Johnson's goin' be upset about this."
"Her grandmother's. For her daughter on her wedding," she said when she noticed me looking at her. "That's an emerald."
Mamma nodded. "Let's put it away safe."
We went down the hallway to, what I always called, the Room. This was the place Mamma kept the things she was always finding. She placed the earring on a shelf that ran along one wall. It joined the many other single and pairs of earrings there. I looked over her shoulder. Something further along the shelf caught my eye.
Mamma looked where I was pointing. It was a ring, big, gold. A man's ring, a wedding band.
"Anderson. Bill, I think. Bill Anderson."
She nodded, certain now. She picked up the ring, weighing it in her hand.
"Oh yes. I remember Bill now. Yes, I remember him."
"How did he explain to his wife where he lost his ring? Why he took it off?"
She clucked her tongue and looked at me.
"People would do well to make their lives simpler. To take care of their things. Not to cheat on their loved ones."
"No good can come of it."
She moved through the room, past the table covered with all sorts of keys, and stopped at a wide, flat tray. I peeked around her at the things it held.
Mamma sighed as she looked at a long, pointed kitchen knife. The blade was stained red in places.
She shook her head again.
"No. No good can come of it at all."
She looked down at me and nodded towards the knife.
"That was lost too, like all the rest here. Didn't stop them though. Didn't stop them taking her to prison. Ended her days there, she did."
She set the wedding ring down next to the knife.
We stood there, in the room, surrounded by all those things people lose track of.
Mamma always had a love for other people's things.
I take good care of mine.