Carrie had a doctor’s appointment. She would be getting her immunizations, and so both mom and dad went to try to protect all the doctors and nurses. Carrie was scary when she was upset.
Grandpa came over to keep an eye on Lynn and Jim and Neal. They were all a little nervous about how upset Carrie would be when she got home. “We could hide under the bed,” Neal suggested. “I don’t think she’d find us there.”
“That’s no good,” Jim said. “It’s at her eye-level. I think we should hide on the top shelf in the pantry. She’d never look for us there.”
“If we weren’t in the house, she would be guaranteed to be unable to find us,” Lynn said.
Neal sighed and his shoulders slumped. “Yeah, but do you know how much it costs to get a passport?”
“Everything costs more nowadays,” Grandpa said, patting Neal on the shoulder. “I think it’s because young people don’t know the value of money. When I was younger, I could get ten pairs of shoes with a penny, and I’d still get change.”
“Wow.” Jim’s eyes were wide. “How could you get change for a penny? What’s smaller than a penny?”
Lynne rolled her eyes. “Nothing is. And while things cost more now than they used to due to inflation, you couldn’t ever get ten pairs of shoes for a penny. That’s ridiculous.”
“Actually, we used to use leaves as change.” Grandpa smiled. “I’m sure you’ve heard about money growing on trees.”
“I thought money didn’t grow on trees,” Neal said doubtfully.
“It doesn’t anymore. People liked the metal money, because it kept them anchored to the ground better during that unfortunate period of time when gravity wasn’t working so well.”
“Really? Could you jump really high like astronauts on the moon?” Jim asked.
“Of course. The problem wasn’t jumping up, it was coming down afterwards. That’s why people talk about lucky pennies. It would surprise you how many people were saved by having a few pennies in their pockets. I’m sure the moon is full of people who just didn’t happen to have change in their pockets when they tripped.”
Lynne snorted. “Gravity doesn’t change like that. It’s constant.”
“Then why is it different on the moon?” Neal asked. “That doesn’t make sense.”
“Quite right,” Grandpa said. “Of course, I found a real lucky penny once. I knew it was lucky, because it looked like a quarter to everyone else. I was afraid to spend it though, because once it belonged to someone else, it would look like a penny to them. Then they’d think I was cheating them.”
Jim leaned forward. “Do you have it now? Can I see it?”
“Of course I do.” Grandpa reached into his pocket. “It’s right here. See?” Grandpa held up a quarter.
“It’s a quarter,” Lynne said in a bored voice.
“It really does look like a quarter!” Neal looked excited. “That’s amazing.”
Jim held out his hand, and Grandpa dropped the quarter into his palm. He turned it over and over. “It looks just like a real quarter.”
“That’s because it is a quarter,” Lynn said. “Not a penny.”
“Could you give it to me?” Jim asked. “Just for a little bit? I want to see it look like a penny.”
“No, because then it would still belong to me. I’m not really willing to give up my luck just yet.”
“We’ll need it when Carrie gets home. Maybe we could disguise ourselves, like the lucky penny,” Jim said.
“Carrie hates strangers,” Lynn pointed out.
“Good point,” Jim said.
“Back before there was money, we didn’t buy anything. We just traded for what we needed. Of course, you had to find people who had what you wanted. People would put big signs outside their houses listing what they had and what they wanted to trade. You could walk around the neighborhood reading signs. It was hard to be strangers when you read everyone’s signs.”
“That didn’t happen,” Lynn said.
Jim frowned. “I thought there was a barter system a long time ago.”
Lynn took a deep breath. “There was a barter system a long, long time ago. Grandpa isn’t that old. And there weren’t any signs and…”
Grandpa was looking out the window. He interrupted Lynn. “I think your parents and Carrie are driving up the driveway. Who wants to go for a walk?”
Everyone ran for their coats.