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Sharks

When was the last time you tossed a coin in a fountain? Was there a wish?


The last time I tossed a coin in a fountain, I was three years old and my grandmother told me that a shark lived under the water and feeding him coins only made him big and dangerous. The more coins I tossed in, she warned, the bigger and more dangerous he became. My grandmother had strange ideas about coins and wishes, and finances in general, but she was right about the shark. From that day forward it followed me. It sat on the edge of my bed in the early morning whispering to me of loss and greed in a way only a shark can. It was with me day and night, threatening to eat up the remaining coins in my pocket, so I started to run. I ran up steep mountains. I ran to the ocean and back. I took every detour I could find, but, still, he was always right there. At my heels - whispering.

One night at the edge of spring, I had a dream. An unusual dream -the light of it more than anything – all white and airy and filled with sound, like angels humming. The shark was suspicious of dreaming and counseled me against it. He didn’t approve of my sleeping through our early morning meetings. He suggested an alarm clock, but when none proved loud enough to wake me, he became impatient, then bored, then moved on to wilder waters where sharks belong and I started wishing.


Wishing for walking shoes instead of Nikes and soft slippers to place beside my bed because slippers keep the sharks away I’ve been told. Something about the scuffing sound annoys them. I delight now in scuffing. I walk slowly. Deliberately. Twirling sometimes and even skipping. Occasionally, I dance. The slower I walk, the more coins flow from my pocket. Everywhere I go, I leave little piles of them behind me in the street and next to the park benches. They fall out on the subway seats and in front of the courthouse.


I have so many coins now that throwing only one into a fountain seems a shame, so I open my pockets wide and let them pour out, turning the water gold. So many coins now that anyone can come and freely take. Make as many wishes as they want and throw them back in with no fear of sharks or grandmothers with the wrong idea.