By Rod Martinez
“Heads we get married, tails we break up. That was what we agreed to, right?”
He stood tall, looked down at her. Kim was easily the most beautiful girl that David had ever met, inside and out, but in his mind, their relationship had moved way too fast for comfort. And he remembered the last fight they had. She walked out on him, in the rain, in the dark. That night he had considered it his sign. He wiped his forehead and sighed, content that it meant he wouldn’t have to take the plunge, tie the knot, be a victim of the old ball and chain as the guys kept chiding him.
He stared at her. She didn’t even budge. He held the practically new quarter in his hand. It was an almost new 2012 coin; he had kept it as their token of love. On their first date, it was given as change at Dairy Queen after their first ever sundae together, and the coin was minted the year that they met. She said, “Let’s keep it. Years from now we can show our kids that it was a sign. We had ice cream and the change we got back signified our first date: a nickel—five cents, fifth day; a dime—ten cents and the tenth month of October—then the quarter, which was made in 2012.”
He smiled thinking back on that moment as he stood near her on this hot Florida day, a slow sweat starting on his brow. Kim was a Florida native, David came from New York. He knew that all his life he would probably never again find anyone like her. But fearing the commitment of marriage, he thought he’d just get away with stalling it just a little while longer. He looked at her, and she didn’t say a word. Her eyes were closed and she looked like she just might even cry. But now he knew she wouldn’t cry. Or would she?
He held the coin out, looked at it, the glimmer from off the sun bounced off it and off the tree next to him. David exhaled nervously. It almost looked like he was choking back a tear that might form.
“Honey, I’m sorry,” he shook, “…I uh, well, you know how it is with guys. Look at your brother Larry, he didn’t get married till he was forty, and he was dating Tonya for seven years!”
She didn’t reply.
He dropped his face, and for the first time in a long time, David Guzman didn’t know what to say. He stroked her cheek.
“Baby, I’m sorry.”
He closed his eyes. A tear was going to start. He wanted to fight it but couldn’t. He couldn’t because he revisited the night that she walked out on him after the fight. He had tossed the coin in the air and said, “Heads we get married, tails we break up.”
She snatched it in her angry fist. She was so upset at his joke that she furiously ran out on him and walked right out into the thunderstorm, without an umbrella or even her purse. She walked into the night and, only twenty paces out, was hit by a car she didn’t see and died on her way to the hospital. David didn’t see the accident because he ran to get his umbrella then chased after her, but went the other way. Kimberly Donovan was DOA when she got to Tampa General Hospital. It was her brother Larry that called David to let him know. When he made it to the hospital, she was lying on the stretcher. He placed his hand on hers and felt something in her fist as he tried to open it. He slowly peeled her hand open…and the quarter was sitting there, showing heads up.
“Heads…we get married.” He sighed in tears as they started to close the top of the casket. Kim lay in state at the cemetery after all family and friends had left. David needed to have these final words. The cemetery worker walked up behind him.
“Sir, we have to close the casket and inter her.”
David turned to him, nodded, tears flowing from his eyes. He leaned over, kissed her, and then placed the quarter in her hand.