Ten cents

22 Oct

“I’m ten cents short,” the girl said. She dug in her purse and pulled out lipstick, receipts, mobile phone, a notebook… her hands filled quickly, shaking. “Just give me a second, please…”

“I’m sorry,” said Jerome. “We need to depart, or my entire route will be late.”

She looked up, her eyes filled with tears, “I have … I have a job interview. I don’t have time to run home a find a dime. Surely you can…”

“I’m sorry,” replied Jerome. Somehow he couldn’t stop himself. “If I made a compromise for every customer…”

The girl met his eyes, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. I’m not every customer.”

An elderly lady, who was standing behind the girl, made a tutting noise. “Shame on you,” she muttered as she held out a dime.

The girl looked at Jerome, shaking her head, and then at the lady. She touched the lady’s arm, saying, “thank you,” but then turned and stepped out of the open door.

“What kind of person are you,” the lady hissed, eyes narrowed. She showed her pass and sat behind Jerome. Jerome closed the bus doors and drove away from the stop.

Jerome was sweating, “I … we … I have to follow the rules.”

“Sweet young thing, going to a job interview. You don’t even have ten cents to spare,” he heard the lady mutter. “I’m calling the bus agency,” she continued, “this is public transportation. You serve the public.” She continued to mutter until he dropped her off three stops later. “I’m calling the Transportation Advisory Committee!” she bellowed she stepped to curb. She stood staring at him as the bus doors closed behind, her lips pursed.  

Jerome pulled away, his throat tight. He would talk to her when he got home. He couldn’t make compromises for his girlfriend, surely. Surely. He’d text her later. He’d make it right. Ten cents.

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3 Responses to “Ten cents”

  1. jeanosullivan October 23, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Everything I think of to say you’ve said better with this piece. That cad’s gonna minimize the meaning when he gets home. I hope she’s not there when he gets home! Interesting she won’t take the old woman’s dime – because she knows it means so much,

    • jeanosullivan October 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

      I mean “.” not “,”

      • ingridf October 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

        🙂 You are always so kind… xo

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