Fiction from Olivia Kingery

Photo: LwcyD

Alice finds an antique coin collection

When her grandfather died, Alice brushed her finger over the dust collected on his furniture. The two had played cribbage earlier that week, but now, it was Thursday, and her grandfather was dead. This is how she finds the coins: in the back of his closet, behind long coats and pressed collared shirts, a small red oak box sits on a shoe box. The oak is not covered by dust. Alice traces the sheen of vermillion.

Once the lid is open, Alice sinks from her heels and leans her back against the wall. This is what is inside the box: a photograph of her grandmother. She is in a blue coat, white fur hat, and holding a champagne flute with something pink in it. Her neck is bent back laughing, and everything around her seems fuzzy, blurred by her beauty. Alice begins to cry. There is a handwritten postcard, two pearl earrings, and another smaller box. Inside this box, the smaller one, is the coin collection. But this collection is unlike yours or your father’s or the one they sell on Pawn Stars. These coins are hand forged, bent with love and sweetened by the thumb pads of a lover. On one side of each coin is the name of a city:
………………………………………………………………….Paris
………………………………………………………………….Birmingham
………………………………………………………………….Marquette
and the list goes on. There may be forty coins in the small box inside the large box which is now resting on the floor. Alice places it back on the shoe box, out of respect, she thinks. But back to the coins. On the flip side of the city names, is the same laughing face from the photograph. Her grandmother’s smile hand stamped into a light metal, her face taking each contour of the coin. Alice begins to cry again, or maybe she never stopped. She looks back to the postcard, now noticing the city name of Marquette in the right corner, and reads the note out loud:
……..My darling B, another stop, another coin, and another chance to remember the
……..smooth curve of your cheek, the slow music of your laugh. Don’t spend it too fast

—signed with what Alice guessed was a line of xoxo, thumbed away from years of flipping the card over, and over, and back again.
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Olivia Kingery is a farmer of plants and words in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University where she reads for Passages North. When not writing, she is in the woods with her Chihuahua and Saint Bernard. She tweets @olivekingery.

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