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Spare Change

By: Kayla Baro-Ortiz

Wood scrapes against the tile,
the shelf barely moves an inch.
I hear a piece of metal
ringing against the floor.
My stomach drops and I think
it’s the ring.

The first ring you gave me 
all those summers ago
in the happiest place on earth.
When our love was as old 
as a mature dragonfly.
The air smelt of 
caramel corn and cotton candy.
In a crowd of a million,
I was alone with you.
Three gems that made a mouse
a thin, gold band
that almost got caught on my knuckle
Twenty dollars’ worth of metal 
had never meant so much to me.

My body reminds me
of that day’s heat.
Fingers remember 
our desperation to touch.
Lips dry from your kisses.
Cheeks sore from smiles.
Words sound hoarse from the endless conversations.
Your voice became my home,
all you had to do was whisper my name
and I instantly found you in the crowd.
When I realized my hand was lighter,
you swore to replace it.

I pushed all the empty boxes and tape
to the other side of the room.
How strange to think
our hectic life 
will fit in them neatly.
My forearms scream
as I push the wood away from the wall,
the corner digs into my bicep,
my hand gripping your flashlight.
Light sprinting to the other side.

I see a penny on the floor
head down, all too fitting.
The weight of an elephant slams my chest
Almost as heavy as the day
you became a seaman,
and signed our next six years away
My throat strains like the day I realized
our next home would have only me
to keep it company
Salt hits my tongue.

Spare change mocking me.
Its shimmer a reminder 
that my finger probably won’t
get to turn green again.
A diamond 
A promise you’ll see me soon.
We hoped that
after the ring knew it had been replaced
it would show up.
Just to be kept safe 
in a box labeled FRAGILE.
Finding it
would in no way bring you back.
But it’s still another piece of us.
Of you.

I throw the penny into an empty hallway,
a gift for the next resident
It’s song echoes throughout the empty house,
reminding me that one day 
you and the ring will be at my hand.
A thousand miles away and I still know
we wish for the same thing:
for time to fly 
as quickly as copper just did.