The Impossible Circle

The date was December 13, 2022. That’s important, as you’ll see.

I was walking to work, the rain pattering in fitful drops, not enough for an umbrella, but just enough that your coat is wet through by the time you arrive.

I reached the crosswalk on 38th and Maple and retreated under the canopy of the Rand Insurance building to wait for the light to change. I put my hands on the low stone wall and felt cold metal under it. I pulled my hand away. It was a coin, a dime, with the edge sliced off.

I picked it up, instinctively flipping it to see the date. I used to collect coins—even had one from 1790—and the habit still stayed with me.

The year was 2029. It took me a second for this to register. Then I stared at it, trying to will it to be something else. There wasn’t dirt over the date or a perfectly positioned scratch to make it look like that. It was just impossible.

I looked up to see the crosswalk light blinking down: 2 . . . 1 . . . Still half in shock, I sprinted, reaching the road as the light blinked red.

Dumb move, in retrospect. I was most of the way across when tires screamed and I was slammed to the side. The coin went flying, along with my phone and hat.

I was in and out of consciousness as people crowded around and as the ambulance came. Paramedics shined lights in my eyes and asked me questions, then loaded me onto a stretcher and brought me to the hospital.

My leg was broken. My uncle, always the jokester, later called it a lucky break in that I didn’t die or get hurt worse. But I still stayed in the hospital for a day while they made sure I didn’t have any other injuries.

The doctor came in as they were about to set the bone. She looked at the chart.

“Hit by an SUV while crossing the road,” she read. She looked up, unimpressed. “I’m going to guess you were texting.”

“Never.” She didn’t look convinced. “I could tell you what happened, but you won’t believe me.”

“Oh, really?” She put down the chart and came to check my pulse. Her nametag said Dr. Hollins.

So, I told her about the coin. I was right: she didn’t believe me.

She poked at me a few more places, then listened to my heart. “Fine, show me the coin. I’ll believe it if I see it.”

“I dropped it when I got hit,” I said.

She nodded as if she’d expected this.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said. “If I can find it, I’ll bring it in and show you.”

“Sure,” she said, probably assuming I was loopy for the meds.

Turns out that I didn’t have to. The paramedics brought in a Ziploc bag with my hat and phone, cracked screen and all, and at the bottom of it, someone had thoughtfully placed a single dime with the edge shaved off, although how they knew it was mine, who knows.

The next time Dr. Hollins came in, I showed her. She still didn’t believe me.

Well, she believed the coin was real since she could hold it, but she didn’t believe it was from the future.

“This is a trick coin, right?” she said. “Something you made as a joke?”

“If I had made it, I wouldn’t have been so surprised that I let myself get hit by an SUV,” I said, quite reasonably, I thought.

“Then someone else must have made it as a joke,” she said. This was plausible but if so, the person worked at the US Mint. Dr. Hollins (Jenny, she told me), brought in a magnifying glass and compared it with a 2022 dime. They were exactly the same. She brought in a small scale to weigh them.

I, or at least my impossible dime, had definitely made an impression on Dr. Jenny. We kept in contact during my physical therapy and checkups and even after that as well. A few months later, we were dating. A few years later, we got married.

I kept the dime safe, although it was fun to pull out to show people who asked how we’d met. But then the year finally turned 2029 and the dime became just another one of millions of others from that year, although shaved off on one side.

One day I was mowing the lawn. It was the summer of 2036. I finished and brought the mower back to the garage where my 12-year-old daughter Olive was making something out of wire for a class project. She was holding something against the belt sander using pliers, watching the sparks shoot out.

“Hey, don’t do that,” I said automatically. “What is that?”

“I’m just playing around,” she said. She dropped a coin into my hand, still warm for the sander. It was a dime and she had been sanding off one side of it. I knew the date even before I checked.

It took fifteen minutes to find the dime that started everything, buried in one of our keepsake boxes. It was still there, and I put both dimes next to each other, being sure not to mix them up. They were not just similar, they were identical, even down to the tiny scratches along the face. Somehow, it was the same dime.

I put my dime back in the box and went out to the garage. “You going to be okay for a few minutes?” I asked Olive. “I have to go run a quick errand. And I’ll get you a new dime,” I added since she was grumbling I had taken it from her, even though a dime was effectively worthless by then. It took about fifteen minutes to drive down to 38th and Maple, then another ten minutes to find a parking spot. The low stone wall next to the Rand Insurance building was still there, although more worn and dirty. I put the dime I had taken from Olive on the wall and after a minute to see if it would disappear, I walked away. I didn’t know if I had to—after all, whatever happened had already happened, right? Still, just to be sure, I thought. Just to be safe.

This story was written based on the February 20, 2023 Muse on Monday prompt.

One Comment Add yours

  1. …just to be sure, just to be safe. This gave me chills.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.