“Do you know what this is?” the man asked. His dusty jacket and cheery disposition amused the child. Kneeling down, he brandished the obvious object in front of the small boy. The boy who was now old enough to know things (of which he was very proud of). Confidently, he investigated the object that was delicately held between the man’s pointer finger and thumb. So delicately, in fact, that his other fingers fanned away from them and showcased the shiny thing as if to deify it.
The boy’s rich brown eyes seemed to have a hint of gold in them. He reached for the entrancing thing, saying, “It’s a -”
Too slow, however. Johan pulled it away, tucked his head slightly, and raised his brow; hinting that the real spectacle was yet to come. The little boy, Zan, knew what it was. Or he thought he knew. After all, he’d seen it a million times. Maybe more. Sure, he never had one of them, but the adults were always tossing them around freely enough.
There was more importance on the little thing now, though. Zan saw the silly thing in a new light - An older light, he felt - In the past, he may have impulsively tried to chew on the shiny some-thing. Now, he thought it might be more special than that.
Besides, he was older now, and this moment wasn’t one to just gobble up. This thing was special to his well-dressed uncle towering above him.
“No? No guess?” The man laughed. “You mean you don’t know what this is?”
The boy started to smile and showed a few of his missing teeth. His head bobbled back and forth, forming a “no.” A common reaction of someone his age. More notably, it was a common reaction for someone who tended to get tricks played on them quite often. But, even though he was normally the one getting duped, he generally enjoyed himself.
“Johann,” a woman yelled from down the hallway. “Johann darling, the taxi’s here. Come, come.”
“You’re mother’s always pooping the parade, isn’t she?” Johann said as he pulled his hand - and the now fascinating little object - away from in front of the boy. He stood to face the boy’s mother, Diana.
“Come come come,” Diana said as she waved her hands at Johann to bring him in for a hug. Her fuzzy brown coat covered her torso and changed her shape into something more lavish. Like a bear, her son always thought. He still sat on the floor just behind his mess of blocks and toys that blended into the well-shaped carpet pattern. His eyes were still transfixed on Johann’s hand. Still, he wasn’t sure why.
“God, it was so great to see you. I wish it was for, well, under different circumstances,” Johann said.
Their hug lingered and then finished quite abruptly. Diana replied as she pulled away, “That’s life, I guess. You’re here one day and the next... well, the next you’re in Tahiti!” She laughed loudly. She often did so to cope.
Finally, she let her hand drip off of her brother’s arm and let him go. He turned and grabbed his coat from the wooden stand next to the door. He peeked back over at Zan who was still sitting on the floor staring at over his uncle’s hand contemplating the new special-ness of the item. Johann pulled on his coat, keeping the object pinched between his fingers. He stepped forward, knelt down, then brushed a strand of golden hair from his nephew's forehead. His thumb felt heavy and reaffirmed his uncle's wisdom. Zan wondered when his thumb would feel like that. Maybe that thing in his hands will make my thumbs bigger like his? He thought.
Looking into his nephew’s rich eyes he exclaimed back to his sister, “Christ, he really has got eyes like dad’s.” With a chuckle, he added, “they might be bigger than his stomach like dad’s, too.” He held his hand up, brandishing the object to his sister.
Diana laughed loudly again and threw her hands in the air, as she often did. It distracted the boy. Her fingers sparkled with rings and gems. “Heaven knows he gets that from me.”
Johann looked back at his invested nephew. “Your grandpa gave this to me a long time ago. And, well, I think you’re old enough now.” He placed the shiny object in his little hands. “It’s been my - “
“The cab is outside! Come on Johann, get out of here!” Diana interrupted him.
"He stood up and said, “Okay okay. Take good care of it kid.” Then, after giving his sister another quick hug, he left.
Zan looked down and studied the object.
A coin. A quarter to be precise.
He’d never held one before. It was lighter than he thought. Friendlier than he expected. The head of a man long since dead was embossed on one side; some building on the other. He examined it for another second. Then two, then three. Ultimately, he decided that he didn’t know what to do with this silly thing.
Still, it seemed important to everyone.
Wanting to fit in, he continued to think about it for a while. For the most part, however, it only seemed good to look at. Maybe it is good to play with? He wondered with fewer words.
The boy looked up to find that his mom had moved herself to the kitchen to prepare dinner.
“Zan, sweetie, start picking up your toys and get ready for dinner,” she said. Washing her hands, the sound of the sink swallowed any noise. While she stood in front of the sink she noticed her reflection in the window. “Ugh, I look like death. I have to get some more of that cream tomorrow,” She said to her reflection. She dried her hands and started to run her fingers along the bags under her eyes. “It’s expensive, but it’s worth it.”
She set a now full pot on the stove and lit the range. Without the sound of the sink, the silence dashed her thoughts. She poked her eyes around the kitchen and a few hairs rose up on her body. Something as small as that was nothing to raise any suspicion. “Ah, the spread,” she whispered to herself as she walked around the decadent island in the middle of the kitchen.
“Zan, honey. You have fun with your uncle?” she asked as she pulled open the fridge and pulled out a few ingredients for their extravagant dinner for two. She raised an eyebrow. It felt strange not to hear a reply. The rest of the hairs on her neck began to rise to accompany the few that were already standing. She placed a finger gently on the marble island counter and swirled around it quickly to get to the front room.
“Zan. Honey, are you - “
Diana’s heart dropped as she rounded the corner.
Everything turned into a frenzy and the dimly lit decor of the gaudy, off-yellow living room now felt like a box - a cage - that shook around to scare the birds inside.
After just a moment, Zan had choked and was dead.
Johann forgot to tell him it was his Lucky Coin.