William G. Brown

HER LAST NICKEL

“If you could just give me three hundred, I could probably get squared away.” She holds the phone, nodding her head. “No, I understand.” She hangs up the receiver.

I step back and bam, I bump into the door that leads upstairs to my bedroom.She sits at the round oak table in the dark dining room. Half folded pieces of paper are displayed in front of her. They are neatly ordered in columns from the Park National Bank, another from Master Card, others from the electric and cable companies. Some papers are marked “Urgent” or “Final Notice.” Her hand slides over the table, grips a white and blue sheet. It folds over her hand. She stares at it. Her eyes are wet.

My mother’s eyes look up from the paper and see me standing there. She places the back of her hand against her cheek and wipes at an angle towards her left eye. She asks, “What are you doing up so early?”

I step from the landing into the dining room. I walk toward her and put my arm around her shoulder.

She puts her arm around my back and hooks her hand under my arm. I feel the paper crinkle against my ribs. She says, “It’s Saturday.”

I nod my head, “I know.” I tug at my shirt. “I was going down to the flea market to Dave’s stand. He said he was going to have some new cards today.”

She asks, “Do you have enough money?”

“A few dollars and some change.”

She reaches down and pulls up her purse. She sets it down on top of the papers, unzips it, and removes her billfold. She sifts through, finds three dollar bills and a few quarters and dimes. She hands the money to me and says, “See if he got any new Johnny Benches to add your collection.”

As I turn away she looks into her billfold again and says, “Wait, here’s another nickel.”

 

Will Brown is an alumnus (2008) who currently teaches English at Columbus State Community College.

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