You slip it into her hand just like you slipped it into the vending machine coin slot. Slyly, slowly, a second of hesitation. The metal is a little thinner, a little lighter than normal. But she’s not a hardwired robot, not trained in noticing differences in nationality just beneath the surface, differences that can only be measured in an image on a small silver coin. The disparities between the Bermudan dime and the American one are nearly imperceptible to the human eye. But they only accept the American here. And it makes sense, perhaps, since there’s a woman on your ten cents. Sexism, you think. She was no Franklin D. Roosevelt.

All you want is the sweet chocolate of a candy bar, light on your tongue, a taste you can only articulate in Portuguese. Characterizing the sensation in English would not do the dessert justice.  You bite you lip, that hopeful taste of sugar sizzling on your taste buds, praying she won’t notice. That she’ll turn a blind eye to the border, live up to her claim of being colorblind.

Her eyes count the change, her brows furrowing. Why did they make dollar store candy cost an extra ten cents? You would have been in the clear without that dime. Your stomach grumbles as she pinches the coin between her thumb and forefinger.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “We don’t accept foreigners here.” You’re sure your mind is playing tricks on you, sure that she said foreign change, with her drawling accent and mumbled words. So you nod and extend your hand, the small coin dropping into your palm. You trace the smooth edge, the orchids spelling stories into your skin. And you look down and wonder, ‘Why, Queen Elizabeth, do we matter so little?’

Salena Casha's work has appeared in Niteblade Magazine, The Medulla Review, With Painted Words, Divine Dirt Quarterly, and Writers' Bloc among others.

We live in a world where identity is both static and fluid, stationary and transient. Exchanges of cultures occur in our everyday lives, embodied in ideas, food, music, literature, and currency. Yet not all exchanges are friendly. This piece seeks to  illuminate the resistance people have to the intertwining of cultures and the changing of times, and asks us to examine on what side of the struggle we will fall in the end.



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