I thought I would post a bit of my creative writing, so here’s the short story I wrote for the recent Write Invite evening (see previous post). The story is called The penny:
I’ve lived a long and wonderful life, seeing many places and meeting many people along the way. I’ve had the chance to see some amazing things, though only fleetingly, when passed from one hand to another, or sitting stacked up neatly with my cousins on a table in this place or that. Most of my life has admittedly been spent in the dark recesses of pockets, purses and wallets, but for those brief moments of human contact it has been magical.
The youngest was Kimberley. It was 1984 and I was shiny and new. Her mother took me from the purse and placed me and a handful of my kin in the chubby little palm as the little girl’s eyes gleamed with excitement. She clutched me tightly as if I were her most prized possession, skipping all the way to the sweet shop. At the counter she planted us firmly on the wooden surface and beamed up at the shopkeeper while he reached for a jar on the top shelf and filled a paper bag with strawberry sherberts. I can still remember the rustling off the bag and the sweet aroma that tickled the little girl’s nostrils. As she left the shop and I was scooped up and dropped into the till I watched her go, the Queen on my side smiling ever so slightly. It was a fleeting acquaintance but a memory I still treasure.
Another one I remember fondly was Albert. Albert was old and his palms soft and wrinkly, but his grip was still firm, and I remember clearly the strength with which he held on to me when he found me in his wife’s coat. She’d died that morning, and I was one of the last things she touched as she dropped her spare change into a pocket and headed out to the shops. His tears were salty and full of more sorrow than I had ever witnessed before. They washed over me as he clutched me tightly to his face, as if he could still feel her presence on me. Those first few months with Albert were a sad time, but he kept me close at all times, and gradually I became a source of strength for the old man. When he died I lost a friend.
I haven’t always been treated with kindness. I’ve been tossed away onto the pavement, spat on, thrown unceremoniously into money bags and dumped on cashier’s desks. I’ve witnessed pain and terror, and lay helpless in the wallet of a drunken thug as he beat another man to death, striking again and again until the withered flame flickered one last time and died. I have seen the horrors of the human soul. But I’ve also seen the joys, and the beauty, and known some of the bravest, most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet.
Chris is one of those. He was my last owner, though no one really ever owns money – they merely look after it for a while. But if I were to ever just belong to one person, it would have been him. He struggled through cancer with me in a little pot by his bedside – his ‘lucky penny’ he would call me. He died last week as I sat there in that little pot. I just wasn’t ‘lucky’ enough.
Now I rest in a new pair of hands. I’ve been through so many hands, so many lives; an unseen link between all these different people. You could say they’ve each left a little bit behind; a little essence of them has worn its way into my surface. In a world where people can feel so very alone, I’m a precious little link from one life to the next.
NB: I know the penny in the photo is dated 1998, but I couldn’t find one from 1984!