I hope you don’t think this one’s too sad. It’s not meant to be. I like to think of it as a maturing love story. One with human frailty and strength of heart.
Take 37: “Pennies from Heaven”
She’s always picking up change off the street. She’ll even stoop down for the least of them: the charred, the rough, the blackened, even the pennies. She stows them in her pockets until she comes home and she jingles all day long. She doesn’t usually notice the sound, but other people do. They wonder what one old lady does with all that change from parking lots and gas stations.
At night her thin spindly fingers drop them one by one into the glass jar on her night stand, next to the Bible. It’s the last thing she sees before she closes her eyes at night and the first thing she sees opening her eyes every morning. The gleaming metallic mounds resting their rounded edges into the matted frames of the others. When the jar becomes full, she’ll empty out the jar onto the wedding ring quilt on top of the bed and run her hands over them, listening for the clinks and the pings and searching for any particularly polished pennies. Her eyesight isn’t very good, so she squints and waits for the bright ones to catch the light. She’ll hold the shiny ones in the palm of her hand and sit on the edge of the bed and close her eyes.
Rubbing the pennies in her hand, she hears the familiar rhythm again, sees herself taking his hand, and walking to the wooden floor below the bandstand. He spins her right and left, she can hardly keep up. The song ends and instead of leading her off the floor, he pulls a penny from his pocket and presses it into her palm.
“A penny from heaven, for my angel girl,” he says.
It was as bright as a copper tea kettle and felt as smooth and as light as a button in her hand. He gives her his goofiest grin and she wraps her fingers around the coin. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him.
Feeling the weight of the coins in her hand, she opens her eyes and examines them again. Picking the best looking one from the bunch, she lays the rest back on the bed.
From the top drawer of the bureau she retrieves a waxen milky brown leather wallet, soft and frayed. She peels open the first fold and pokes a finger into the partition for coins. Their rattling makes her smile and calms her. Taking the penny, she raises it to her lips with a shaky hand, kisses it, and slides it into the partition with the other pennies. Folding the wallet back over into its neat square, she places it snuggly next to the folded starched handkerchiefs and rolled up argyle socks. She runs her hand along the corner of one of the handkerchiefs where she had sewn his initials in dark green thread. She pictured it wagging itself inside out from the back pocket of his jeans as he walked down the hill to the barn.
She closes the drawer and deposits the leftover coins in a sack that she’ll leave on the front porch for the paperboy the next day. From the empty drawer of her bed stand she finds that perfect copper penny, smoother still from human touch. Her duty lovingly completed, she wraps the penny in her folded hands and tucking them under her head, closes her eyes and rests awhile atop the bed covered with the wedding ring quilt.