A five-dollar bill. Fluttering there on the sidewalk, yet miraculously motionless in the early-morning breeze; flapping just enough to attract her attention without flying away.

Her foot clamped down upon it, hard; she squatted down fast and dug it out with greedy fingers; crushed it into a ball and stuffed it deep in her pocket.

It was barely past dawn. Nothing was open. Joan wondered who had dropped it, who had been benign or foolish enough to toss away five whole dollars as if it were nothing, as if it meant nothing. Ah, well, he or she would be thinking in self-consolation. It’s only five dollars. It’s not life or death.

She glanced at the barricaded door. The curtains hadn’t been drawn yet, but the familiar sign still stood in the window. Breakfast, two dollars. Coffee, eggs and toast. She almost smiled. She sat down on the sidewalk, waiting. It smelled of stale vomit. It wasn’t hers, she knew. She’d been down the road a ways when her last meal had come up on her.

There was a click and the door opened behind her. She jumped up and ran inside without speaking. She laid the bill conspicuously on the counter so they would know she had the money. They were very kind. They brought her extra coffee and packets of jelly that she ate plain when she ran out of toast.

It lasted longer this time, and it stayed down longer, too. But she was sorry because it came up right next to the library where liked to spend the rainy days. Still, it was something, wasn’t it? Finding five dollars. Not a matter of life or death, maybe. Not just yet.

Lori Schafer 

Lori Schafer is a part-time tax practitioner and part-time writer residing in Northern California. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Springfield Journal, The Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, Every Day Fiction, e-Romance, The Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette, Romance Flash, Leodegraunce High End Flash Fiction, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Every Day Poets, Ducts Webzine of Personal Stories, Separate Worlds, The Journal of Microliterature, Avalon Literary Review, and that’s Life! Fast Fiction Quarterly. She is currently at work on her second novel.

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