500 words inspired by the Weekend Wordsmith prompt “a dollar bill that’s been written on”
“You got a letter today,” Ma said to Davey. She nodded at an envelope tucked into the napkin holder on the kitchen table where Davey sat eating his after-school snack. Ma leaned against the counter, smoking. She flicked cigarette ash into the yellow plastic ashtray in her hand. Davey coughed and fanned away the smoke. Ma took a drag and turned her head to exhale toward the small window over the sink. Ruffled curtains fluttered in the spring breeze.
“Do you think there’s another dollar in it?” Davey said. He wiped his hands on his dungarees and held the envelope overhead, trying to discern its contents. “I can’t tell.”
“The return address says Possum Kingdom,” said Ma, “in Texas.”
“I don’t know anybody in Texas,” said Davey.
“Why don’t you open it and find out?” said Ma.
Davey’s fourth grade class had been working on The Hometown Dollar Project all year. It started when Davey and most of his classmates got the same chain letter in the mail promising good luck and world travel if you wrote the name of your hometown on a dollar bill and sent it to the first person listed at the bottom of the letter. The letter said to take the first person’s name and address off the list, add yours to the bottom and send the letter to ten of your friends within five days. When your name reached the top of the list the dollars you got back would map your future travels.
Davey’s teacher told the class that each student who got a Hometown Dollar back should write a report about the dollar’s hometown, read it to the class and then choose a brightly colored thumbtack to mark the location on the big map of the United States on the classroom bulletin board. Davey had already placed green thumbtacks at Cheektowaga in upstate New York and Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
Davey skimmed through the letter.
“Ma,” he said, “it’s from a kid like me. His name is Joe and he’s a cowboy. A real cowboy!”
“Not everyone in Texas is a cowboy,” said Ma.
“He lives on a ranch,” said Davey. “He helps his dad in the barn and rides his horse everyday. See, he sent a picture.” Davey handed Ma a photo of boy sitting on a spotted horse. The boy’s straw cowboy hat was pushed back to reveal his smiling face.
“Joe says he wants to be pen pals and wants to know what it’s like to live on Long Island and if I ever get to swim in the ocean. And there’s a dollar, too. He wrote Possum Kingdom Texas on the back just like we’re supposed to.”
Ma looked over Davey’s shoulder at the letter with its neat, childlike handwriting.
“I don’t see any harm,” she said, “but we’d better check with your Pop when he gets home, just to be sure. Now you need to get over to the library and write your report about Joe's hometown.”
Copyright © 2012, Lulubelle B