I wanted to tell her none of what she had was worth trading for a million… [crafted thought]

I had been lost somewhere in the fog of my mind when the periphery of reality tugged my eyes to the source of a noise that didn’t belong in a testing environment. She should have been finishing the math section of the PSAT, yet her pencil was flat on the desk in front of her, as her hands, accentuated by long black shining points, stroked out the folds of the dollar bills held securely between them. I squinted, trying to figure out if she was using it as an aid to a math problem, while my mind questioned if the resource was even allowed. But she didn’t look at her test. I watched as she carefully unfolded each bill and aligned them on top of the other, stroking them through her hand once or twice and then, with thumbs pressed into the center of both ends, folding them to crispen a spine into the weak Washingtons. I wanted to tell her to put it away, to focus, to be careful (why?), but I was mesmerized by her own self spell-casting – the calmness in her face, the security and pleased patience as she fondled the paper chains that bind our society to its government. It was cathartic for her, I realized. The touch of the money, the symbolism – to handle it released endorphins, felt physically good – she was experiencing the pleasure of an addict taking a hit or a devout follower reciting his prayers. As the horror of the idea and its repercussions caught fire within me, she folded them together with a deliberate and gentle firmness – assuring them they were hers and she was theirs – slid the wrapped papers through her hand one last time with a reverence like a kneeled Catholic on rosary beads, and returned them to the comfort of her pocket.

Give Sharkey a piece of your mind.

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