‘Loose Change’- by Callum J. Jones

The universe is always speaking to us… sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more.”

– Nancy Thayer.

___

Megan (I)

Eighteen-year-old Megan keeps a coin jar in her room, full of loose change. On top of the pile of coins is a two-dollar coin that has a unique design on its tails side. Seagulls fly around a sun, which sits at the coin’s centre. At the bottom, in plain, bold lettering, are the words Two Dollars.

It’s a warm and sunny day outside. Megan’s supposed to be practicing for her music exam in a few days, but she can’t bring herself to do it. All she wants to do is go out and enjoy the nice weather. But she can’t think of what she could do outside. Go for a walk, maybe? Lay on the grass in the backyard and soak up the sun?

She realises that she hasn’t been to the Salamanca Market in ages, so she decides to go and wander around there for the day.

She reaches into her coin jar and takes out a handful of coins, including the Two-Dollar Coin. She pockets the coins and leaves the house.

She catches a bus into town and down Davey Street. She turns the corner into the Salamanca Market. It’s bustling with people. Vendors are selling people a vast array of things: food, clothes, hand-crafted items, second-hand books. Megan walks through the crowd. She smiles, loving it all: the buzz of activity, the colours, the atmosphere. She can’t believe she hasn’t come here in ages.

She approaches a busker who’s playing a guitar. She stops to listen to him for a moment, admiring his skill. He looks around her age, and has a mop of black hair with a thick, brittle beard with a ginger tint – he’s obviously got Irish blood in him.

Megan reaches into her pocket and pulls out the Two-Dollar Coin. She tosses it into the busker’s guitar case, which has a fair amount of money in it already.

‘Thanks very much!’ the busker beams, grateful.

Megan smiles back. She continues to walk through the Market.

___

James

The busker, James, finishes playing his guitar. He puts the coins people have tossed into his case into a small plastic bag.

He was taught to play the guitar by his uncle when he was a kid, and he’s kept at it ever since. His family is only living off one income at the moment: his mum works as a receptionist at a doctor’s surgery, and his dad is dying of lung cancer and is permanently confined to a hospital bed. Playing his guitar has just remained a hobby. He’s never earned a fortune busking, but every dollar that people gave him went towards groceries or other things that the family needed. Every dollar helps.

He’s about to place the Two-Dollar Coin into the bag when he notices its unique design. He examines it for a moment. He hasn’t seen the design before, and he’s intrigued by it. He eventually pockets it before placing his guitar in its case and clipping it shut.

James picks up the case and starts walking through the market. He hasn’t had anything to eat since breakfast, so he decides to get some lunch.

He approaches a stall selling German sausages. They are being cooked on a barbecue behind the stall counter, along with sliced onions. James is about to step forward to buy himself something to eat when a man in his late-20s approaches him. He has shoulder-length blonde hair and is dressed in jeans and an open-necked shirt. James notices that the man’s hands are shaking, and his breathing is shallow. James is immediately concerned. Is the guy having a panic attack?

‘Excuse me, mate,’ the man says to James. ‘Can I ask a huge favour?’

‘Sure,’ James replies.

‘I’m going to propose to my partner tonight.’

That explains why he’s so nervous, James thinks.

‘Congratulations!’ James smiles.

‘Thanks,’ the man says, smiling back. But the smile quickly disappears. ‘But the thing is, I’ve got a problem. I’ve got the ring and I’ve organised a romantic dinner, but I also want to buy a rose I’ve just seen at a flower stall and I’m a couple bucks short. Any chance you’ve got some spare change?’

‘Yeah, turns out I’ve got two dollars exactly.’ James fishes the Two-Dollar Coin out of his pocket and holds it out to the man, who accepts it gratefully.

‘Thanks, mate,’ the man says, smiling once again. He looks really relieved now. ‘I owe you one.’

‘Don’t mention it,’ replies James. ‘I hope she says yes.’

‘Thanks,’ says the man, who then turns and walks away.

James then steps up to the stall to buy a sausage.

___

Dylan

The man, Dylan, walks through the market and approaches the flower stall he mentioned to James.

He’s been wanting to propose to his partner for ages, but it never seemed to be the right time. But now, now felt different. Society had become more accepting of same-sex couples.

He’d met his partner, Russell, in college. They’d been in the same home-group in Year 11, and they became quick close friends. They developed romantic feelings for each other over the course of their friendship, and they started dating half-way through Year 12.

They’ve been together ever since.

There are a lot of roses to choose from at the stall, all of them of various colours. But Dylan goes straight to the one he saw earlier: a beautiful red one.

He grabs it and approaches the florist, a young woman with long hair dyed blue.

‘Just this, please,’ he says, handing it to her.

‘Sure thing,’ the florist replies. ‘Eight dollars, please.’

James hands her a five-dollar note, a one-dollar coin, and the Two-Dollar Coin.

The florist sets about wrapping plastic and paper around the stem. ‘Do you want a ribbon with it?’ she asks.

‘Yes, please,’ Dylan replies.

‘What colour would you like?’

Dylan thinks for a moment.

‘Uh, red, please.’

‘No worries.’

The Florist finishes wrapping the paper around the stem and then ties a ribbon around it.

‘So, I’m guessing that you’re having a romantic dinner tonight?’ she asks, smiling.

‘Yep, I am,’ Dylan replies, smiling modestly. ‘I’m going to propose to my partner.’

‘Well, good for you,’ the florist beams. She finishes tying the ribbon and adds: ‘Good luck!’

She hands him the rose, and he takes it. ‘Thank you.’

Walking away, Dylan can’t help but smile. Excitement and anticipation builds up inside him.

___

Amber

After the man walks away, the florist, Amber, puts the money Dylan given her in her cash box.

She’s never really enjoyed being a florist. She’s been working part-time since starting her training to become a tattooist last year. She saw it as a necessity to get by financially. She’s wanted to be a tattooist ever since she saw her aunt use a tattoo gun on a friend. She’s been fascinated by the process ever since, and she’s even gone on to design a number of tattoos herself.

She’s about to put the Two-Dollar Coin into the box when she notices its unique design. She examines it more closely. She once saw another two-dollar coin with a unique design. It was a 2012 Commemorative Coloured Poppy coin. It had a red poppy at the centre with Remembrance – Two Dollars wrapped around the edges.

Just as she’s about to put the Two-Dollar Coin into her coin box, an unshaven man dressed in dirty clothes suddenly runs up to the stall. He quickly comes round to Amber and pushes her out of the way. She falls to the ground with a gasp, dropping the Two-Dollar Coin – it rolls away!

The unshaven man hurriedly grabs a handful of cash from Amber’s cash box and then starts running away.

‘Somebody stop him!’ Amber calls out, getting to her feet.

A plain-clothes police officer talking to someone nearby hears Amber’s cry, and sees the unshaven man getting away, and then chases him. The officer chases him, quickly catching up with him and tackling him to the ground.

___

Megan (II)

Megan, still strolling through the market, looks over and sees a man in dirty clothes being handcuffed by a plain-clothes police officer a few yards away, near a flower stall. Someone is comforting the florist, who’s visibly shaken.

Then, something on the ground catches Megan’s attention.

It’s the Two-Dollar Coin! It’s laying on its tail side, so she doesn’t notice its design.

She picks it up and pockets it without really looking at it, totally unaware that it was originally hers.

After glancing one last time over at the man being arrested, she continues to walk through the bustling market.

*

When she gets home later that afternoon, she walks into her room and pulls out all the coins left in her pocket, including the Two-Dollar Coin, and drops them back into the coin jar.

 

 


Words by Callum J. Jones

img_0080.jpgCreative, honest, and reliable, Callum J. Jones loves writing and also enjoys taking photographs. In his spare time, he likes to read, watch movies and TV shows, and going on walks.

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