No one notices the woman step over to the grass, step on the aluminum can, crouch and pop off the tab. It's a can of Four Loco, not quite empty, and her lips press together, conveying her mild disgust to an audience of no one.
She has a double advantage for remaining unnoticed as she scavenges the tabs off of beer and soda litter. For one, no one wants to acknowledge the discarded cans, recycling potential wasted as the decay under the tams. For two, the woman dressed in jeans-and-T-shirt urban camoflauge is of an age between thirty and fifty. She is already invisible in a society that values certain aspects of beauty related to youth. It doesn't bother her, however. She never saw herself as pretty, anyway.
Most of the cans on the way are beer cans. Most have a swill of liquid weighing them down in the municipal landscaping. At the bus stop, she goes through a show of gingerly picking up a can by pincking the edge of its brown bag wrapper. No one watches, but she still carries it, like a crane game prize, to the trash container. She twists off the tab before she drops the rest into the trash.
That it is not trash bothers her, but there is no recycling container nearby. Earlier, she gleaned seven good tabs out of the building recycling bins, all the while sorting out bags of garbage and flattening boxes. It's an alibi, in case anyone notes her searching for cans. Can't have non-recyclables mixed in; bad enough that so many containers are badly washed, if at all.
She's stealthy because it's no one's business but her own.
Why not just by them, a thousand for ten dollars, off of eBay? Those won't do. People don't seem to know how to correctly, easily remove the tab. She needs the ring around the fastening point intact, so that the tab has a small circle inside of the larger hole. Because the marketplace cannot provide unbroken tabs, she is left only the option to collect them herself, and she needs more than she can get from her own household consumption, especially considering that the all-natural soda in which they occasionally indulge is typically in glass bottles.
Upon arrival home, she counts up her clinking treasure. Two more that she had forgotten come out of her jeans pocket, more like an omission than a secret. After all, it's enough of a harvest for two flowers, with spare petals in various colors other than plain aluminum. While she has some time alone and unobserved, she makes the tabs into flowers, tying through them with salvaged wire or scraps of yarn.
Little by little, the trash from the roadside, the discards in the dumpsters, take a shape that couldn't be seen before. It's the nature of crafts from these kinds of materials. They change into something different from their original purpose. By redefining a soda tab, the woman reveals what the casual observer may not been able to see before, that the intended purpose of a thing is not the whole of a thing; that what has past use is not without value; that perception can be changed.