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Small Hands / Spare Change

Laurel Buxton

I am walking through a bustling farmer’s market on a brisk October morning when I tuck my hand into my coat pocket. It’s funny—I have always hated coats. Too much static, too bulky, not enough space to breathe. But I am always cold. You teased me about this, asking why I never brought a jacket anywhere. Despite my constant shivers, I was stubborn. An excuse to be held, I suppose. My icy fingers melted in your warm palm. My heart did, too.

In the middle of the market, with my hand tucked into my pocket, five loose coins find my fingertips. My breath catches in my throat, and my fingers grasp the spare change the memories. All the times in which I have held your hand. Leaning against the gray wall, standing in the office, in the museum, in times of crisis and contentment. Small hands, spare change. It’s a distinct but not unwelcome memory.

Someday I’ll spend the coins in the same way that I let your hand go for the last time. We were standing in a parking lot, and the bus was full behind you. The driver shouts for you to hurry, and tears blur my vision. I cannot see you. I can only feel you squeeze my hand tightly tenderly. It is too fast. It is all too fast. In a single breath, you’re on a bus and our fingers have stretched towards each other for the last time. I turn away so you cannot see me cry. My trembling back betrays me.

Months later and I am here, standing in the market wearing the coat you convinced me to buy. Spare change slips through my fingers. I hold on for dear life.

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