Again I woke up to no prompt from http://storyaday.org, which was a tad disappointing. Although they are totally optional, I do enjoy seeing our order for the day and working on it. With a morning scheduled away from the computer (garden, dog walk/car boot sale, cinema) I knew there was no hurry, but last time this happened it was mid-evening before I found out what we were supposed to do. Last time I already had a story (a twisted fairy tale called ‘Her version of events’ – http://wp.me/p18Ztn-9e) which fitted, although I had written another one anyway, but I couldn’t be sure this would happen twice so I decided that I’d pick one of my http://twitter.com/sentencestarts, thought of a random number… 336 “Please don’t exaggerate Simon.” but then looked at 1,336 ‘As you rattle the charity tin…’, and decided to go with the latter as I haven’t written a second person viewpoint story yet this month, but had a sneaking suspicion that having planted the seed in my brain, that I may well return to Simon.
As you rattle the charity tin, you sense something non-metal; a button you reckon.
Then a man walks up to you with a coloured piece of paper in his hand, an off-red but it’s small so you can’t quite see. He opens it then re-folds it into a sliver, small enough for the slot on the top of your tin. He does it slowly, not to show off but out of reverence, but it lets you see what it is. A fifty pound note. He doesn’t particularly look as if he can afford it but he gives it willingly, as if it recompenses for something he’s earned, something non-monetary, something sacred.
“Thank you,” you beam, hoping to catch his glance which is still staring at the tin. It reminds you of the scene out of Ghost where Whoopi Goldberg unwillingly gives some nuns a huge cheque (money that isn’t hers) only this chap isn’t unwilling, just deep in thought. You look either side of him and smile in case there’s a female Patrick Swayze encouraging him to part with his hard-earned money.
The man just nods, turns and leaves and you imagine his ‘ghost’ walking beside him, telling him he’s done the right thing, that the money is better off in there, the exact words you’re failing to recall. Only this isn’t four million dollars. But, you guess, to some it may as well be. To those it’s going to, that’s exactly what it is.
The tin’s getting full and you’re not overly comfortable having a note of that value in it, so you walk to your fellow volunteer Angie, a few shops down, and tell her you’re going to pop back to HQ for an empty tin. It’s a 5-minute drive so you know she won’t be alone for long.
As you pull up, you spot Simon, the only paid member of staff, walking into the building. You catch up with him as he heads for the office and you swap “hello”s.
He puts his container on the desk and empties it out. You watch the coins roll into a controlled heap and a couple of notes flutter; a blue fiver, a brown ten. You’re not one to score points but you know you’ve done better.
Holding out your container, you ask, “Can I swap this for an empty one please?”
“I’m sorry, they’re all out,” he says. “You could have mine but I’m heading back. I can empty yours quickly.”
“Sure,” you say and he uses his scissors to remove the cable ties holding the lid in place. He smiles as your coins pile out next to his, and they remind you of the Henry Mountains that one time you went to the States.
“Oh look,” he says, pulling at the fifty pound note. “It’s a cheque.”
“Oh, really?” you say as he unfolds it, “I could have sworn… oh well.”
“No, you don’t understand. It’s a cheque for…”
“Yes?” you ask, hoping for a figure near the fifty.
“Two million, four hundred and seventy five thousand pounds.”
“Please don’t exaggerate Simon,” you say but he smiles and holds out his hand. What you thought was a £50 note really is a cheque. A very pretty off-red cheque from The Patrick Swayze Foundation, UK Fund. A cheque worth, doing a quick calculation in your head, about four million dollars.
So Simon got a mention after all. Time now to do some gardening.
Update: the gardening got done, the dog was walked twice, we went to a car boot sale and somewhere in between today’s prompt appeared: to take a rest from writing but to exercise. All in all I think I achieved that too.