You find it nestled in a basket in the corner of a gift shop, displayed with pride, aligned with the glass necklaces with insects embedded inside and the ‘lucky Cornish piksies’. The pieces clamour and jostle at your touch, roughly shifting. The gold chipped teeth of the earth.
fool’s gold. £1.00
Take your embossed circle and swap it for a wild piece of crag. Ladies and gentleman, in handing over your money in exchange for this quirky marvel you have been cheated. Take a hammer to your gold coin instead; violently reshape it until royalty loses her stance and the numerals of the date bleed into the letters.
If you must, question yourself. Will it fit inside a coin operated shopping trolley? Can you exchange it for something edible, scented, sensual? If you flip it in the air will it respond lithely, can you feel it run like a tongue down the inside of your sleeve, a magic trick?
It sits, cumbersome, in your hand until you see fit to find some other bearer for it. It is shiny from every crevice because it has never been smoothed by the inside of someone’s purse. It is useless.
So do not exchange your gold for ‘gold’. Keep your coins nestled in your pocket with the knowledge that you can stack them into a lean tower when you get home. Sit next to your love and fight to keep the same stale phrases buoyant. Flatten the carpet which peels at the edges with your foot for the thousandth time. And as you sit, stagnant, stitched into a cubicle that projects grey from every side, earning piles and piles of pound coins, be glad that the fool’s gold never followed you. Think of it, glittering and desperate, condemned forever to a basket in some seaside gift shop.
Pity it, to avoid pitying yourself.