A Perfect Object

• 4 min read

A profile of an item I would like to be please buried with

Have you ever met an object that made you unreasonably, intensely joyful? Something that you need to stare at and carry around and tuck into your pockets and hold in your sleep? Something you want to but must not put into your mouth, where you can chip your teeth and cut your tongue against it? Something that you would like to fit into the little notch behind your kneecap or maybe you could slide it under your collarbone to keep, so that it is a part of you, and every time someone with x-ray vision looks at your skeleton, they can also see this perfect little object that has become a part of you?

I am intensely pleased to report that, as of this week, I have met such an object.

Meet the Yes/No Coin.

This Coin was made by Shing Yin Khor. It weighs about as much as a hyacinth bulb, or a snake egg, or all the teeth that are currently in your mouth plus all the teeth you’ve ever lost, or as many apple seeds as you can fit in the breast pocket of a business suit.

The Yes/No Coin is a little wider than two of my admittedly-small fingers held together. It is larger than a large coin, but smaller than a can of peas. It warms up quickly when I hold it against my skin (sometimes I press it to my heart or to my cheek, and other times I press it between my palms, hoping that when I set it down, my hands will say Yes/No). The edges are just a little round, so the Coin will not balance on its side; it is decisive.

Why do I love this Coin as much as I do? It came into my possession by surprise, and I immediately knew that I would like to be buried with it over one of my eyes, No side up so that everyone in the afterlife can tell I didn’t agree to being there. It appeals to the part of me that, when I was a small child, collected found keys just for the sake of having them. This Coin is better than a Money Coin, because I can’t spend it on a small piece of unsatisfying candy. I can only spend it on decisions and conversations. When I was very tired last night, my partner asked me if I would like a glass of wine; I was too exhausted to reply, so I simply held up the Yes/No Coin with the Yes side facing the person I love most in the world. They brought me wine and a blanket, and it was very good. This is what the Coin makes possible.

The Yes side of the Coin has three branches and one eye. I like to think that the eye is saying “see what you’ve agreed to? see what you’ve decided? don’t pretend you’re ignorant; the time for that is in the past, before you let a Coin decide your fate.” The three branches are, of course, the three possible timelines: one for No, one for Yes, and one for lingering in your indecision until a chasm opens up in the earth and swallows you whole. The “yes” branch is, I think, the one on top; it has only three pairs of leaves, one for each letter you must accept in order to enact your agreement. Y, E, S — now the compact is sealed, the covenant is blooded, the thing has begun.

The No side of the Coin features two leaves and a key. The leaves are not attached to a plant anymore; they have fallen in a final and irreversible refusal to continue growing along with the thing that made them. They have rejected their past, and there can be no undoing that rejection. The key above the word No can lock or unlock, can close or open, can conceal or reveal. A No can be limiting, but it can also be freeing; there is deep and arcane power in learning to say I Will Not in a world that so often encourages complaisant agreement. The No side of the Yes/No Coin offers you that key to do with as you will: free yourself or fetter yourself, it is not the Coin’s concern.

You will be able to buy the Yes/No Coin from Shing Yin Khor early next year. (I was not given the Coin for promotional purposes, and I am not being compensated for writing about the Coin). I encourage you to buy it when you can, and to buy other things from Shing in the meantime, because the things they make are good. But when you get your Coin, take care: it will only tell you the truth, and there are no false results, so be sure to ask it the right questions, and only when you’re ready for answers.


Tomorrow (Friday, 11/22), I’ll be hosting an open thread for paying subscribers! The Coin and I will be answering questions and telling futures. A subscription costs $5 per month, gives subscribers access to open threads and exclusive content, and pays for my healthcare. I hope to see you there!

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