Pieces of Silver

by Verlaine


Two dimes.


I sit here, twirling the coins between my fingers, spinning them on the bar, watching them flash and twinkle under the lights. They arenít worth much, but they look so pretty when the light hits them right, all silver sparkles and glitter. Thereís been a lot of that in my life. Sparkles and glitter, with not much behind it. Not for much longer, I hope, but you never can tell. Which is why Iím here, waiting to make a phone call.Thatís all it will take to set the ball rolling.


Sparkle, glitter.


I donít know why Iím hesitating. I should have made the call already.Instead, Iím sitting here, nursing my second drink, and playing with my change. Part of me, even now, wants to just forget it all, get back on the plane, get out of here. Thereís even a little part of me that wants to go back farther still, to wipe out the past few years completely. If I thought there was any real chance at that, I might even try.


I spin the dimes again.


Shimmer, twinkle, flash.


He always thought it was about the money. He never understood what I was really trying to say; on the other hand, I probably didnít say it very well. Didnít even really know what it was I was trying to say. Itís taken these years of being on my own to figure out what the problem was.


Twenty-twenty, isnít that what they tell you?


††††††††††† Twinkle, sparkle.


We got married too young. Too young, too naÔve, too idealisticóboth of us. His ideal was to save the world. He was going to go out there and be a hero cop and arrest all the bad guys and keep everybody safe. Justice would be upheld and the good guys would always win.


Compared to that, I suppose my ideals were a lot smaller. All I wanted was a normal life. A husband with a steady, safe nine-to-five, who came home to a house in the suburbs, drove a nice car, spent the weekends mowing the lawn and taking the kids to Little League. Not working day and night, coming home when he could fit it in, putting himself at risk with criminals and low-lifes, heading out with his partner any time he called.


††††††††††† Glitter, flash.


I was scared for him, and I was jealous of the job, and of his partner. But most of all, I just wanted normal. He couldnít understand that.He couldnít understand why I wasnít happy that he was getting to live his dream. It never seemed to occur to him that what I was really afraid of was that I would never get to live mine. That I couldnít find a way to make mine, ours.


††††††††††† Shimmer, sparkle.


Too young, too foolish. If both of us, or even one of us, had been a little older, we could have worked it out. We could have found some way to compromise. We could have found some way to talk, instead of just yelling the same things at each other over and over. If Iíd known then what I know nowó


Easy to say. But if I had known, I wouldnít have left. You donít throw away that good a man if you have any sense. But I pushed him, and hurt him and drove him crazy, when all I really wanted to do was to get him to see, to understand, to know what I meant. Hurt him, until I started to like hurting him, because nothing else I did seemed to matter to him. Pushed him, until he stopped loving me.


††††††††††† Glitter, twinkle.


Iíve always known who he really loved. Knew it from the minute I met the curly haired bastard. And he knew me, too. I think heís the only man Iíve ever met who never gave a damn what I looked like, who saw right through me, and wasnít impressed. Oh, he was always polite to me, because I was his partnerís wife, but I knew that was the only reason. And there was never, ever, a hint of anything else. With a different kind of man, I might have made a move on him, used my body to make him squirm, to prove a point, to put a dent in that disapproving attitude; with him, I never dared. I somehow knew heíd turn me down, and make me feel even smaller than I already did. I was always a little afraid of him, because I knew I could never turn my husband against him. I knew where their real loyalty was, even back then.


††††††††††† Flash, sparkle.


The ironic thing is: neither of them had a clue then, and I bet they still donít. I bet theyíve spent all these years working together and spending almost all their time together and touching each other, and telling themselves and everybody else that theyíre each otherís best friend in the whole worldóand neither of them knows.


Neither of them knows.


††††††††††† Sparkle, twinkle.


Maybe . . . if this all works out the way itís supposed to, Iíll give one of them a little hint. A little nudge in the right direction. After all, Iíll be able to afford to be generous. And my ideals are different now.


I finish off whatís left of my drink.


I spin the dimes one last time.


And go to make the call.

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