One Coin Please
I am a pushover, a shy mute, and a strongly opinionated person only in my head.
So I will flip a coin and jokingly tell everyone that I cannot decide for myself, but I will pray with all my heart that it lands on the choice that I want it to.
Because this is how I make decisions and heaven forbid it if I do it any other way.
Not the new kind, the type of that’s fresh and white and new, but the snow that’s grey and brown, trodden over by others countless times.
The kind that’s no longer pretty.
This snow is old, unwanted, the snow everyone wants to fade away soon so that they can see the green grass underneath.
It’s sad and tired and just wants to be gone but it stays because it’s not time yet. Winter still has many months left and this snow will remain for as long as it has to.
A Half Painted Fence
It happened in the middle of summer.
Our parents had already left for work hours ago and my sister, just old enough to be entrusted with a nine-year-old kid who once kicked a lamp off of a nightstand while taking a nap on the couch, was playing legos with me.
The car, a white truck with ladders and hoses, parked outside our house and the noise they made was just enough to make us peak open the curtains and watch as two men climbed out of the vehicle to ring our doorbell.
Almost every child who has ever been left alone at home will know this one sacred rule that parents will never let them forget- never open the door for strangers and when someone knocks on the door, don’t even let them know that you’re home.
It wasn’t the first time where someone came to our house when it was just my sister and I but it was the first time where they didn’t leave.
Unlike every other person who would ring the door a second time before leaving when no one opens it, these two men returned to their car- not to get in and drive away but to pull out their ladder, set it on our closed driveway gate, and then proceed to climb over it so that they could get to the other side.
It’s a child’s worst nightmare to be home alone and witness men you didn’t know cross into private property with a ladder and cans and... and paint.
My thoughts had jumped from people at our door to home invasion real quick but the movies had never told me anything about robbers needing paint to pick locks.
As we watched them walk just far enough to the point where we couldn’t tell what they were doing, my sister decided that she should call our mom and after a quiet discussion where I could hear the stress in our mom’s voice make her words tight and deeper than her normal tone, she decided to call the police.
In the end, they were neither wannabe robbers or extremely aggressive door-to-door salesmen. Instead, they were fence painters who hired by our neighbors and then given the address to their house- an address that was, in fact, one number off.
And when my parents came home, they learned that the fence painters were given just enough time to paint a decent chunk of our fence a dark brown. Our fence was a light yellow, the same wood and paint that we had since we bought the house six years ago, and the new and shiny coat of dark brown was very noticeable and very bad.
The next day, it also brought us a bill where we were charged for a painted fence that was half done and not even wanted and much to my parents’ frustration, our neighbors did not return our calls when we asked them to pay for it.
It took two months before we finally got rid of the bill. Now all we had was the fence.
But it wasn’t an easy problem to get rid of. My parents, who were the type of people who would rather do things themselves instead of spending money to have others do it for them, spent a decent amount of time trying to find the shade of brown that the painters used on our fence in hopes of finishing the job as they had long ago resigned themselves to a new dark brown fence.
But they could never get the shade right and time passed quickly because they were busy people with jobs and two young children who had a new activity every two days.
So I continued living in a house with a half-painted fence and three years would go by before my parents finally decided to buy a dark enough coat that could cover up both the old and new paint and though it took a whole three layers to make everything look even, we finally got a fence that wasn’t two colors.
We Lost Her In June
In the middle of summer, an email was sent out to the entire school.
It was short, a single paragraph of news, but after it was read, it hurt.
She sat across from me- bright smiles, strong opinions, stubborn and terribly outgoing.
The first friend that I had ever lost.
She would always be more adventerous than me, had a small tattoo on her stomach with plans on getting another, spent a weekend drinking vodka just to see how drunk she could get.
And she was kind.
We would talk sometimes, about relationships and family, dreams to go to college soon, how she wanted to go but didn't feel comfortable leaving her younger sister with their abusive father.
How she felt selfish.
And once, she told me she left her house through the window when she couldn't take it anymore, said it felt free.
Sometimes I will think
About the email that was sent out.
It said that she had died.
And to this day, I'm too scared to ask how.
There’s a stain on the fork, clouded metal on the second prong to the left. Perhaps she should be focused on finishing her meal, but there’s a stain and her eyes just can’t seem to leave it.
She could care less of what the meal was. It was of little importance to her despite it being her last meal. Last. The name itself was so depressing that she didn’t want to focus on it. Instead, she looked to the stain on her fork and tasted sand when she swallowed her fourth bite.
She had requested that her last meal be a simple thing- steamed vegetables and a single cut of meat. In a way, it reminded her of her childhood, of her mother who by all accounts was not a good cook. Perhaps it would have tasted great if she could taste anything at all, but she can’t so she chews slowly and brings it down with water all while under the scrutiny of the guards and the warden.
The warden sits in front of her, eating the same meal as her, with a look of slight boredom hidden underneath an amicable outer nature. It’s tradition in the prison for the warden to eat together with a death row prisoner during their final meal. Something about how good company could sooth an anxious soul or maybe it was one last act of kindness and hospitality towards a person who was going to die.
The plate in front of the warden is almost finished while she herself had only gotten a small portion done. The guards want to rush her. She can tell these things after spending so long studying them, but they don’t because it would be rude to a person who was going to die soon.
Let them wait, she thinks. I’ve got all the time in the world.