This story first appeared in the chapbook I Call This Flirting (Flume Press).

In Pittsburgh, women carry large baskets of coins. They scatter the nickels, dimes, and quarters up and down the city streets, as if they’re sowing corn or oats or wildflower seeds. When they’ve finished, the women stoop and twist to gather the change back up again.

When they’re done for the day, the women go home to make dinner for their families. They press moist dough with their firm fingers. They sit at tables with cooling cups of coffee. The sunlight fades from first one hilly horizon, then the next. The Pittsburgh women rub lotion over each finger and up to the elbow on each muscular arm. The lotion smells like roses and cinnamon and midnight rain.

When it’s dark, the women walk outside. They hear the clank of machines, the rattle of trains, the breeze tapping its way through every single tree. The women inhale with their hands on their hips; they strike wooden matches in order to hold the flame to the fuses on the fireworks, which pop and sizzle as they dart up into the night.

After the colors have drained, sooty ashes tumble from the sky. The women carefully sweep them into piles, bending quickly to read fortunes predicting long lives filled with hope and lust and passion. At night, they sleep soundly in big beds, coins shifting gently with each inhale, with each exhale.


Photo credit: emilianohorcada / Source / CC BY