When she was five or six, she'd found a $20 bill lying in the gutter in the debris of dried leaves, twigs, and candy wrappers.
She'd cleaned it as well as she could, folded it and gripped it tightly in her hand. Daddy had explained money to her using silver coins. "A quarter will buy a small candy bar," he'd said. Maybe she could buy five or six candy bars. The owner of Jefferson's Mom & Pop would help her. She hoped she had enough to also buy a can of Coke.
She offered the old man the bill. "Don't know if it's real, kid. Could be counterfeit. Let me see it." He'd reached out his fat hands for it. "What ya want with it?"
She scampered to the candy aisle, picked up bar after bar,
"You got it right," he said, his voice so soft she barely heard him.
Later when she knew what money was worth, she decided it had to have been a $1 bill.
"Hey, Dad, can I borrow twenty bucks? I'll pay you back Saturday when I get paid."
"I'm still waiting, Joe, for the twenty last week and the week before and the week before. The answer is no."
He wouldn't cancel with Sally. She'd never
"If you don't make enough money," Dad droned, "then take responsibility like I've always done. Get another job. You're young. You can work two, three if you have to. Pay your own way."
"Yeah," he said, then walked out of the room, glanced over his shoulder to see if Dad had followed him, and stepped into his parents' bedroom. Mom hung her purses on the back of the door and he
This time he was lucky. He found not just one twenty-dollar bill but three that he folded and slipped into his pocket.
"See you later,
He didn't know exactly why but he always stopped to watch the neighborhood boys play baseball. He glanced at his watch. Lunchtime was almost over and he was walking back to his office when he caught sight of a bill. Probably a one. It was a twenty. "Way to go, guy," he said to himself. "Lucky you." He pulled out his wallet, shuffled through the bills to slip it between the twenties. Finders keepers, losers weepers, wasn't that what Dad had always said?
He stopped and looked back toward the field. One kid, maybe ten or eleven, ran between
Anyway, he was twenty bucks richer and that counted for something. He continued hurrying toward his office.
Have I ever told you I'm fast? Daddy's told me I have the legs of a runner.
I went upstairs to my bedroom. Grandma sent me a pretty birthday card with a brand-new twenty-dollar bill last week and I'd hidden it for safekeeping but the envelope and the card were there on top of my bed. My
I ran down the stairs and out the house. I knew lots of shortcuts and I caught up with him just as he reached Bobby's place and I tackled him.
He pushed me off and jumped to his feet. The bill was in his hand.
"That's mine," I said.
"Nope. Found it on my way over here."
"Did not. You stole it."
I knew we'd keep did-not-ing each other if I didn't stop. "Let me see it."
He held it out.
"See those marks on the edges?"
"Those? Anybody could've marked it."
"See, an R and an L and a W. Rebecca Lynn Witham."
"Don't look like a W to me."
I could hear mom telling me it wasn't ladylike to sock a boy but I did anyway, hard on his chin, and he dropped the bill, and I picked it up, and I ran.
She'd shaved her budget so tightly she was chipping into bone
This morning, her daughter, Ann, had said it again, "Mom, you can live with us. We'd love to have you."
But that would mean moving away from this neighborhood where she and her husband had moved
When they'd hugged
She'd adjusted. A few degrees cooler, fewer varieties of foods, sold her antique jewelry piece-by-piece.
She searched her purse again for a stray coin, through all the bureau drawers, deep within the pockets of her old winter coat. Nothing. When her husband had become exasperated with her undisciplined spending, he'd set up a system of budgeting envelopes and she'd promised to use it forever. She kept them in the cookie jar.
She knew the envelopes were empty but she slid the jar from the shelf anyway. Something fluttered downward. A twenty dollar bill.
Brigitte lives in Maine and often uses settings and experiences from her yard in her writing. She earned Fiction Writing Certificates from Gotham Writers Workshop and UCLA-Ext and is working on her WVU-MFA Certificate. In addition to facilitating WVU classes, she meets weekly with two local writers' groups