souvenir from the everyday

There is a railroad crossing that’s part of my routine walking commute. Each time I walk over it, I reflexively glance up and down the tracks, as if I needed extra reassurance that despite the silent signal and no apparent rumbling of a locomotive, I won’t be mowed down.
Tonight, I heard the twinkling of the signal as I approached; a small freight train was making the crossing, at a slow pace. There were a few other pedestrians in front of me; after the train passed we all walked towards the gates, just ahead of the all-clear, reveling in our small freedom compared to cars, which had to wait for the gates to rise.
A teenage boy walked towards the tracks, and I glanced down in time to see him pick up a flattened penny. I look back for a moment to see him marvel at his shiny new prize.

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