Anicca’s Gold Coin
Anicca, when she first moved to America, learned to make contingency plans. She learned the meaning of the word ‘deportation’ before she learned how to read it. At 7 years old, she learned where to find the key to the safe (underneath the second shelf of her secondhand desk). She learned how to use the school office phone to call her neighbors if her father didn’t pick her up at school one day. She learned to keep little close to her other than a gold coin — the less she cared about, the more painlessly she could leave.
Anicca lost her twin brother before she knew him, and she could never shake the feeling that she was clinging onto something that never existed. She found a gold coin (from where, it doesn’t much matter) — it certainly existed. She snuck some twine from art class, threaded it through the smooth hole in the middle, and tied the tightest knot she knew, over and over, until it couldn’t fall off her neck no matter how she moved. No matter who moved.
Anicca wore the twine and gold coin around her neck, every day, for so long that she forgot why she wore it. Still, she would replace the twine when it rotted, always with a slightly different string. She tied the tightest knot she knew, over and over.
Anicca rode the bus home every day. She liked to sit by the window, watching the scenes flit by before she could process them. One day, after a tiring, but pleasant day at work, she did just that. Her fingers reached to adjust her scarf (it was a bit too warm for one that day). She expected cold gold solace on her neck, but instead, she felt only herself. Bare skin, warm flesh.