A bed of coins flashed up from underneath the glassy water, countless remnents of the sun in miniature, disunited by the broken surface like a misinformed pastiche of luck to keep the people there before me optimistic. Little did they know that all their change was slowly rusting.
There was a single coin inside my pocket, small and gold and cast in low relief with the face of a woman I believed to be a queen. Despite her age, her skin was firm and smooth, her eyes insensate, almost empty but not without a residue of somber immodesty. I rolled the coin between my thumb and finger, tried to count the worn-down knurls and wondered how much royalty lay eroding in the water. Wishers walked up now and then to toss their cents away.
Standing in the shadow of a canted tree, the sun behind it cut in strands that shifted as the branches swung to brush my face with passing warmth, I tried to find some wish to make, some chance anticipation I could pass the time expecting. When nothing came to mind I put the coin away and moved along.
Later in the evening, once the sun had set and all the wishes dimmed, I went back to the fountain underneath the trees, where rusting queens with deadpan faces negotiated hope. In the chalky moonlight, falling water left a pale mist in the air, subtle yellow clouds that broke the calm before evaporating. I wished for them to stay a while longer, to diffuse the evening light so I could find my way through the trees, but when I reached into my pocket there were no coins for me to pitch.
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