Author : William Tracy

She loved the Coin-Operated Boy.

None of the men in her life would really love her. Yes, they were strong, and handsome, and promised wealth and luxury. They were also full of hate, and lies.

The Coin-Operated Boy was none of these things. He was quiet, and had an almost effeminate sort of beauty. He promised her nothing, gave her nothing, but never hated, never lied. Her coins would go clink-clink, and the cogs inside him would go tick-tick-tick, that was all.

The men came and went at their own whims. They wanted attention when she was busy, and were busy when she wanted attention. They forgot her birthday, and she forgot theirs. They forgot that her favorite flower was a red, red rose.

The Coin-Operated Boy was always there. She could leave him for months. Every time when she came back, he was still waiting for her with a smile on his face. She only had to put in her coins, clink-clink, and he would love her.

He never asked her any questions. He never scolded her. He was never jealous, and he never hated. The springs and levers inside him just went tick-tick-tick.

She would ask him if he loved her. Every time, the Coin-Operated Boy would go tick-tick-tick, and then he would answer yes.

His love was deeper than the shining ocean. His love was brighter than the burning sun. His love was more beautiful than the pale moon.

She would ask the Coin-Operated Boy how he could love her with his clockwork heart that went tick-tick-tick.

He loved her more ways than there were stars in the dark sky. He loved her more ways than there were flowers in the green hills and cool valleys.

Always, she would put in her coins, clink-clink, and always the gears in his heart would go tick-tick-tick.

Her lover came back.

He had black, black hair that shone when the light was right. He had bronze skin that glistened with sweat, and deep eyes that shone like the ocean. He had long sideburns that framed his face like a picture. He had a dusting of stubble on his sharp chin. He wore a slick vest that wrapped over rolling muscles. He had a voice that was like poetry.

He loved her, had never stopped loving her. He was sorry he had left her, so sorry. He wanted her to come with him, to come back with him to live with his family.

He brought her a red, red rose.

She took his hand, and looked into his eyes, and she saw her face reflected in them. They kissed, and the passion ran hot and wild in her veins.

The Coin-Operated Boy looked at them, and tilted his head to one side as though he had never seen this before. His mechanical soul of gears and springs and chains and levers went tick-tick-tick. Then, the Coin-Operated Boy asked a question.

“Do you love me?”

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