Author’s note: This post is part of a WordPress Daily Writing Prompt, about weaving an object or symbol through three unrelated stories.
Don’t worry if this isn’t your cup of tea – there is another snarky Rejects list coming soon!
* * *
“Happy birthday, Andrew!”
Andy opened up the blue envelope and pulled out the birthday card his Grandpa had purchased. He suppressed the urge to roll his eyes when he saw Snoopy staring at him from the front of the card. Snoopy was for kids. Andy was 13 now. Practically grown up, in his mind. Besides, Grandpa meant well.
Andy opened the card and found the jackpot: a twenty. “I’d much rather stare at President Jackson than Snoopy,” Andy thought to himself. Andy lifted up the twenty for the room to see and thanked Grandpa for the gift.
As he held the twenty dollar bill, he was struck by the crispness, the rigidity of it. This was a brand new bill. Andy pictured Grandpa waiting in line at the bank, his gold Buick parked right next to the drive-thru lanes, asking for the newest twenty they had.
The bill was so new and perfect it almost felt fake. Andy grinned slightly as he pictured Grandpa puttering around the back room of his apartment, counterfeiting twenties. The perfect crime. Who would suspect an 84-year-old man?
“What are you going to buy, Andrew my boy?” Grandpa asked. “Something good, I hope.”
Andy thought about it. He was going to meet his buddies at the mall later today, and there was a good chance President Jackson would not be coming home.
“Beats me, Grandpa. But I’ll put it to good use. Thanks again!”
* * *
Rachel wriggled free of the cramped dance floor and into the relatively peaceful bathroom. You could still hear the house electronica, although it was muffled; the raw, thumping bass was the primary noise.
Rachel let out a relaxing sigh and sat down in an empty stall. As she peed, she had the sort of epiphanies that seem to only come while on the toilet.
Her life was like this club – chaotic, packed, almost unbearably noisy, and far too expensive, but at same time fun, exciting, and full of people she knew – or would like to know. She knew that there would be a time where she could no longer stand to go this club and wondered if there would be a time where she could longer stand her life.
Oy, that was depressing. Rachel shook her head violently to clear out the dark thoughts and opened her small clutch purse. No new messages on her iPhone. “I’m like this club,” she thought, “No one will miss us when we’re gone.”
She laid the iPhone on her thigh and pulled the baggie from her purse. She placed a small line of coke on the phone’s glass face and moved it around with her credit card. She grabbed a twenty from her purse, rolled it into a tight tube and snorted the coke deep into her body.
As she left the bathroom, the wall of noise, bodies, and sweat hitting her like a ton of bricks, she spied her friends at a table in the corner. Rachel headed to the bar, twenty in her hand, to buy some shots. Before they drank the cheap vodka, they toasted with their favorite expression: “YOLO, bitches!”
* * *
As far as class projects went, this one was at least somewhat interesting. They were to use five pieces of paper money and enter their serial numbers on the Where’s George? website.
Jack was game for this. Their Economics teacher had told them that you could track the movements of money – dollar bills mostly – as they were used to buy and sell goods, bouncing across the country through businesses, banks, and consumers. Jack was hopeful that his bills had some good history – or at least some funny comments.
He opened his brown leather wallet. He only found four one dollar bills. He plugged their serial numbers into the site and clicked Continue.
Each time, his pulse quickened a little bit, he wanted something interesting, something unique, to feel more connected to the world outside of Waxhas County.
Jack still remembered the times in elementary school when released balloons, always with a note to call or write when they were found. Jack dreamt of his balloons soaring across the sky, flying farther than everybody else’s, and being found by a famous celebrity who would not only write a letter, but would come of Jack’s town and shake hands with him in front of the whole school.
But Jack’s balloons did not have that destiny. Only one was ever returned, and it was fished off of an electric line three blocks from school. The power company raised a big stink and they stopped letting balloons go after that.
Four times Jack entered the serial number, hoping for excitement. Four times he got next to nothing – a couple of random trips through the local Fed Reserve. Jack was bummed. What a stupid assignment.
Jack asked his dad if he could get the serial number of a dollar bill for a project. Dad only had a wrinkled and worn twenty, and suggested he use that instead.
Jack entered the numbers and clicked Continue. Out of habit, his adrenaline shot up, even as he mentally prepared himself for another letdown.
As the screen refreshed, Jack’s eyes lit up…