Heads or Tails by Gary Duncan

When it’s his time, the old man with the glass eye doesn’t want much, just dancing girls, a pair of new knees and an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. If push comes to shove, if he has to choose only one, he’ll settle for the dancing girls. Big girls, like they used to make them. The eye, he can live without that: one eye is more than enough when there’s not much to see anyway. People think the old woman sitting beside him is his wife. He had a wife, once. She played the piano, till her hands gave up on her. He sometimes forgets what happened to her, but he’s fairly certain the old woman sitting next to him now is not her. People sometimes stop and say to her, “You used to be that woman, didn’t you?” The woman has heard it a million times before. She reaches into her coat pocket and takes out a coin, an old fifty-pence piece with smooth edges. “Heads or tails?” she says, flipping the coin. She loses every time.

Gary Duncan’s flash fiction collection, You’re Not Supposed to Cry, is available from Vagabond Voices. Recent credits include Train Lit, Gravel and The Cabinet of Heed.

Photo by Ryan Holloway