By The Passage of Time

The helmet sat outside for hours, a price tag dangling off the old cotton chinstrap.

Everyone who arrived came in cars, leaving them parked on the street.

“I used to have one of these,” the first person to pick it up said. There’s an expression that applied to him. “Age has not been kind.”

He picked up the helmet and popped out the firm canvas liner with practiced casualness. “Can’t say I was sad to give it back.”

He was not the only one to take out the liner and put it back in, nor was he the only one to gently place it back on the table. He left soon after, getting into his car and driving away.

Nearly every man who came recognized it. One by one they picked it up. Some smiled, most didn’t.

A young boy no older than eight arrived with his grandfather. The boy put on the helmet, using one hand to keep it in place as it threatened to tip over his eyes. The grandfather removed the helmet and set it back on the table without saying a word.

In the end, my old history teacher, of all people, bought the helmet. Bargained for, really. Because, in the end, it was just another knick-knack at a yard sale.

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