Attrition, by Eric J. Smith

The Phillips moved often; each time things disappeared. Not nuts and bolts; no, they lost significant possessions: a hammer, record albums, a Robertson Davies novel. No one would have stolen these things, and they lent them to no one. Also, they were mixed in with items that survived the moves. Then the Phillips stopped moving—for 26 years. But items continued disappearing—the Mahjong set and their old yellow wheelbarrow. Finally, Mrs. Phillips learned in a logistics class that no one can explain why things disappear but there’s a name for it—attrition. Naming a mystery is a relief somehow.

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