“Jessie, whatcha got there?”
“Sumpin’s in your hand.”
“Mama said it’s a quarter.”
“One quarter? Lookie what I got!”
With mischievously gleaming eyes, my big brother Luke held out two closed fists. My eyes widened in disbelief as he opened them with a flourish. There they were: two, not one but TWO bright shiny copper pennies. The sun came in just then and hit those pennies just right, making them glow, which caused my heart to beat in a strange double-time fashion. I felt an odd sort of longing fill me from the outside in. I had to have those pennies.
“Lukie, you want my quarter?”
“Nah, Pops gave me these and told me to NEVER give them away.”
“Yep, that’s what he said – never.”
“Okay,” I mumbled with tears filling my eyes. I started to walk away in defeat, head low to the ground, despising my one, lonely quarter held in my hot, sticky hand.
“Don’t cry Jessie.” Luke put his arm around me and brushed away my tears with his sleeve. “Ya know what? I’ll trade you my two shiny pennies for your one old sticky quarter.”
“Really? What ‘bout Pops? Won’t he be mad?”
“Nah, I guess not. As long as you take care of ‘em. He wouldn’t want me to make you cry or nuffin’.”
The deal was sealed. I handed over my quarter and he, in turn, surrendered his pennies to me. Luke ran off giggling. That alone should have made me get a sick feeling in my gut but no, the sick feeling came when Mama gave me a sucker and I had no hands to hold it.
Later that night, as I was getting ready to take off my play dress, I remembered my pennies and the wonderful trade I had made. When Mama gave me the sucker I put my two shiny pennies in my pocket. My heart once again skipped and scampered in my chest as I remembered how my big brother Luke had traded me just because I shed a few tears. I was thinking that was a good trick to remember.
I eagerly scooped my hand into my pocket to retrieve my treasure. Once again big tears formed in my eyes and soon flowed down my cheeks. After the tears started flowing the wailing began, which brought Mama and Pops and Luke running into my room.
Pops scooped me up off my feet and held me close. “Jess, honey, what’s wrong?” Pops always called me Jess, honey.
Luke watched in amazement as a big snot bubble formed from my runny nose. Mama watched this in horror. Pops did what Pops does best – he popped it of course, trying to make me laugh.
Mama took her handkerchief and dried my eyes and wiped the popped snot bubble from my nose and face. “Jessie, girl,” (Mama always called me Jessie, girl,) “why are you crying, honey?”
I sniffed up extra snot in my nose and swallowed which gave me a sick feeling as it slithered down my throat and into my stomach. There, safe in the arms of Pops, I shared my woes. “I losted my pennies!” That’s as much as I got out before the tears began to flow once again.
Mama wiped my eyes and nose and asked me the question to end all questions. “Jessie, girl, you didn’t have any pennies, remember; I gave you a quarter.”
“But,” I started in between the sniffs and cries, “Lukie traded me my quarter for his two pretty pennies.”
Pops and Mama gave Luke “The Look” to end all looks. Luke hunkered down, eyes on the floor, guilt plastered on his face.
“Jess, honey, where were the pennies?”
“In,” sniff, “my,” snot bubble, “pocket.” Pops stuck his hand into my pocket and found a big hole where the pennies should have rested.
Mama and Pops once again looked at Luke and Luke, if possible, was even lower to the ground, looking even more guilty. He put his hand into his pocket and pulled out my two shiny pennies.
“I found them. I was gonna give ‘em back. Really I was”
That day, not only did I find out that tears solves a multitude of problems when it comes to boys, I also found out that one quarter is worth more than two pennies.
You know what Luke found out? Teasing his little sister causes a sore behind and makes you lose the two cents you started with.
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