Her complete disinterest in our transaction was the only reason I looked at the bills she handed back to me – to make sure she had given me the correct change. She hadn’t, as suspected. Once I corrected her, she handed me another dollar bill with an irritated smirk. Talk to me in 20 years honey, I thought as I forced a smile. The writing on the bill she handed me caught my attention, but a clearing throat sound caught my attention. Turning, I found the irritated face of an impatient customer. Her arms were folded tightly across her chest and her foot tapped slightly to broadcast that irritation.
A birthday present was not worth jail time, I said to myself, as I shoved the change into my front pocket, gathered my bag and hurried out the door.
Inside the car, I slid into the driver’s seat, started to buckle my belt, then remembered the writing on the bill. Pulling it from my pocket, I straightened it out on the wheel.
Aren’t you glad you made sure the change was right?
I jerked, slamming against the back of the seat trying to get away from the bill that now floated to the floor between my feet. Surely I was seeing things. The scrawling cursive writing had thrown me off and I had read it wrong. Surely. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest as I reached down and picked it back up and spread it back out on the wheel with trembling hands.
I read it again. And again, the first line read the same. The next line started with my name…
“What the hell?” I yelled as I threw the bill across into the passenger seat. Suddenly the car felt like a trap closing in on me. Grasping for the door handle, I opened it and poured onto the pavement, slamming the door behind me. Sitting on the parking lot, I stared at the car.
“Ma’am? Are you okay?” A young teenage boy had stopped his trek toward the store to stare at me sitting like a crazy person next to my car in a busy parking lot.
Slowly standing up, I brushed myself off and smiled at him. “Spider,” I said.
He raised his eyebrows and smirked then continued his journey without giving me another thought.
Walking around the car, I reached the passenger side, cupped my hands on the window and peered through the door. The bill was still in the same place I had thrown it. At least it wasn’t possessed, it appeared. Adjusting my angle, I realized I could read it now.
“Aren’t you glad you made sure the change was right? Ang, I know you are probably freaking out right now. I don’t blame you. I would be, too. But you need to go to the theater on Murphy Street. Look behind the dumpster for the “
The message cut off with a trail after the ‘e’, suggesting the writer had gotten interrupted mid-sentence. Stepping back from the car, I rubbed my temples and closed my eyes. There was no way I was going to some alley uptown because a dollar bill told me to. Right?
Climbing back into the driver’s seat, I put on my seatbelt, turned the key in the ignition and looked at the dollar bill again. With a shrug, I said out loud, “YOLO.”
At least that’s what I thought.
15 minutes of writing. Minimal edits. Publishing whatever comes out.
Prompt (The Writing Prompt Bootcamp)
You’re at your favorite department store buying a birthday present for a friend. As the cashier gives you change, you notice a message with specific instructions scribbled on one of the bills. What do the instructions say? Do you carry them out and, if so, how?
Piano Man – Billy Joel
The Entertainer – Billy Joel
New York State of Mind – Billy Joel
Michelle Leigh Miller is an independently published author, freelance writer, and blogger in Southeastern Ohio. Basically, she is just writing words.