"Make a wish," she says, handing me a penny, an ancient, greenly corroding thing only barely recognizable as currency.
I take it and she smiles that panoramic, toothy smile, her eyes receding as her cheeks rise. I regard it carefully as the subtle oxidations make dust on my fingertips. Lincoln is barely recognizable. The memorial is a blur. The date is a hazy guess at best. Placing it atop my fist I aim for the second tier of the fountain and send the rotting coin spinning end over end like a planet's cross section revolving in time - lapse. I miss and it bounces off the knee of a gaudy and acid eaten cherub. It drops into the first tier to join a myriad of other coins.
"What did you wish for?" she asks.
Her jaw drops as I hop over the side of the fountain and into the pool, soaking my slacks and bringing the park's passers-by to a halt. My slacks will dry and the park goers, well, I could care. I dig in the layer of coins on the pool's bottom, drowning my shirt sleeves as well as my pants.
"What on Earth are you doing?" she cries.
Still digging about the coinage, I reply, "I wished for my penny back and I'm not content to leave these things up to fate."
That single green copper disk is not making itself apparent so I nick one from the bottom at random. Money is meant to be a fluid exchange of value, after all, so I suppose one is as good as another. I climb out of the fountain and smile back back at her, crooked teeth and dull eyes but earnest, at least. "You're a clown sometimes." she says and I smile wider.
A policeman approaches and, in the most officious voice he can muster, "Looking for something, sir?"
I hold the penny up and examine it, much newer than the first, no corrosion, all the scoring perfectly distinct, shiny. I look from it to him, "No, officer, I found exactly what I was looking for."
I take her hand and we wander, damp and giggling off along the path and back into the city, a penny's laughter richer.