the Magic of Picking up Pennies

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It is a well-known—though often neglected—fact, that loose change found on the street can bring about luck. The extent of this luck can alter from situation to situation, depending on the coin’s worth, the individual’s appreciation of the gift, and of course, the seasons.

Olivia, for example, who caught something glinting in a scatter of leaves on her way to work, could have stopped to investigate. She could have marvelled at the fluke of it—being one pound richer than five-minutes ago, when she first left the house. And then, as her timeline shifted—the way all timelines shift once a penny-collector claims ownership of a forgotten coin—she would have boarded her usual train, sat at her most preferred window seat, and received the phone call that changed her life forever.

You see, when one happens upon luck in the Autumn time, it is all to do with change. Change, like the colours of the trees, or the fluffing of an animal’s coat in preparation for the cold. Had Olivia picked up her good-luck-token in Winter, then she may have received a direct sum of money, or a valuable set of earrings, for instance. Winter was the time for gifts from the universe; but Autumn, that was the season of transformation.

Speeding through the suburbs on her way into the city, Olivia counted the hours she had left until lunch-break. Four hours from now to then, and already her stomach was howling. Had Olivia stopped to collect her coin, and received the news from her boss that she had been selected to represent Lagom Fashion House, at a meeting in Milan—where she would, in turn, be offered a life-amending promotion—then Olivia would not have cared about her rumbling stomach one iota. Her world would have been a haze of baffling giddiness. The train journey would have passed by in the blink of an eye, and when she left the station, she would have gone straight to the supermarket opposite, to buy herself a bottle of wine and a family-sized tray of chocolates.

But on this timeline, the timeline where Olivia didn’t bother to pick up her penny, the train lurched and screeched at an eye-watering pace. Olivia swayed in the aisle. There were no seats left for her today. No gift of change lighting up her phone-screen, just a text from her mother saying that the family dog, Tiggles, had developed cataracts in his left eye. No more luck; until the next coin.

Fin, on the other hand, was desperate for change. As he did most mornings, Fin forgot to bring the five-pounds-sixty-pence necessary to pay for his all-day car-parking ticket. Scouring his glovebox and coat pockets, he amassed five-pounds-ten-pence, which infuriated him even more than when he thought he had zero coins.

Fin got out of his car and cursed, not caring in the slightest about the children walking by on their way to school. He kicked his front tyre—which always did more damage to his own toes than anything else—but as his foot skimmed the tarmac, it caught on a coin. The tinkle of money made his ears prick. He bent at the waist to collect the coin that had skidded to a stop. Fifty-pence.

Fin let out another profanity, this time in celebration. ‘What are the bloody chances of that?’ he buzzed, whistling his way to the metre, to pay.

Now, it is worth saying that oftentimes, the magic of picking up pennies is not handed out on a silver platter for the taking. Sometimes, as in this case, the universe offers a gift that must be accepted and used in a certain way to then unlock the full potential of the good-luck- token.

Fin’s story takes place in Summer. As we all know, coins collected in Summer carry the fortune of love. That can mean finding your soulmate, becoming inseparable to your best- friend, or even just learning to love yourself a little more sincerely.

When Fin received his coin, there was ample gratitude there: which is good. That adds depth to his luck. That meant, that when Fin whistled his way to the metre, what he found there—ready for the plucking—was a full-day car-parking ticket already paid for.

Fin brought the ticket closer, narrowing his eyes to double-check the date. He gave an incredulous laugh, then for the second time that morning said, ‘What are the bloody chances of that?’ When Fin returned to his car, his attention snapped to the pretty young woman in the space opposite his. She was rummaging through the boot of her car, sighing so dramatically that it made Fin smirk.

‘You okay?’ he pried, kicking himself for bothering to make small talk. Usually, Fin despised small talk, but something about this woman made him feel like conversing about the weather wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

‘Lost my purse,’ Alissa announced, throwing her hands up in defeat. ‘I must have left it on the table, but I’m already late for work.’ She slammed the car boot shut, locking the doors as she marched passed Fin.

He simply stared after her, not saying a word—placing himself on a timeline were true love just stomped on by. Had Fin offered the change in his pocket—that wasn’t one hundred percent his, anyway—Alissa would have thanked him with a drink after work, one day later when she definitely did have her purse with her. They would have married in Honolulu, brought two children into the world, retired together in the Seychelles. They would have been endlessly happy, almost to the extent of becoming bored with it, but never quite crossing that line.

But unfortunately, Alissa had left her own fifty-pence glittering by the garden gate as she rushed to her car that morning, and now Finn’s change seemed to weigh twice as heavy in his pocket. His streak was over; until the next coin.


*Fun fact about the picture: I bought the book from a book stall and later found the old notes tucked inside, all forgotten. By the looks of things, the book and the notes belonged to a soldier who kept a piece of money from all the countries he was stationed in during the war, including Germany, England, Japan and France.

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