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A Nickel Novel (excerpt)


I came in and my mother went out with the buffalo nickel. 1913-1938. Mama would hold a nickel and say you were born the same year, with no regard for the date on that particular coin. It has come to me to trace and tabulate nickel-by-nickel and year-by-year, beginning in 1913 in Buffalo, New York, when Vi brought a brand-new nickel to her sister, my mother. You’re giving up your liberty, said Vi, whose notion was that the buffalo nickel replacing the liberty five-cent piece would commemorate Mama’s wedding. Mama didn’t understand. Back then people called the old coins V nickels, not liberties. Mama couldn’t think heads or tails or Roman numerals, like V for five, even though she was a genuine librarian, a fount of knowledge. The beguiling bride, Aunt Vi called her, and slipped the nickel into Mama’s white satin shoe with the rosette and one button strap. Trying for luck a little too late. I was born before anyone could count to five. They tell me I cried day and night. Still, my name is Hope.

{To read the rest of this piece, please purchase Issue 38.2.}


Lynda Sexson has published three books: Ordinarily Sacred, Margaret of the Imperfections, and Hamlet’s Planets.