short story penny

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
5 min readApr 6, 2024

It was even earlier than usual. She looked at the dark wall about twenty feet away from her, where the clock was, and could not read the face of it because the brightness of the screen obliterated it. But she knew it was about four thirty am. As if to confirm or deny her mental “claim” the clock chimed…five strokes. Oh, ok, apparently it had taken her longer than she estimated, to take a bath.

Her legs and shoulders ached from yesterdays weight training workout and even though she had not yet bought some more Epsom salt, the hot water had helped relax her sore muscles. The early morning bath, long and deep and luxurious, was one of her favorite post workout routines.

As she floated in the bath she had thought about a message she received earlier in the evening that she had already responded to, yet she realized there was more she wanted to say. She had commented in her own report the day before about how the writer of the reports that she read, though a good writer, only saw the “wrong” side of the coin. She had used that word loosely; “the wrong side” because it was a phrase people used often so it was easy to understand.

And yet in response to the message that all coins have “two” sides, (the wrong side and the right side…the good and the bad) she disputed the idea that we “had” to accept both. If that were true, then if a person wanted heads, and they got tails, then heads was “bad”… In other words, if what she wrote was taken literally, then two sides of a coin as fact, would be truth…because the writer “saw” a side that existed and she wanted to “see” the other side, but the implication was still that there were two sides of a coin.

She thought about that a lot. In her minds eye, a story unfolded and there was a little coin named “Penny”. Penny was a happy shiny brand new copper coin and made lots of friends who were just like Penny. Penny, one day, was tossed in the air, while the people doing the tossing, were calling Heads or Tails. Penny landed in the palm of a kids hand who shouted “heads”, and was very happy. From that day forward, Penny thought that “heads” was good and “tails” was bad.

“Heads” must be “good” thought Penny. I will always be “heads”. Penny worked to flip the way that would always land on “heads” but statistically that was sort of pointless. He sometimes was “tails” and thought he was not “good” when that happened. But that was not true.

Penny also learned that some brand new pennies were thrown away or left on the street to get run over…because of the mistake of thinking that pennies ultimately will be “bad” and have no value or take up too much space or are not “green”. That was not true…but Penny did not really know how to save the new pennies because he was brand new too.

One day, Penny got put in a jar with a lot of other pennies, because he heard the person putting him in the jar that he was a “wheatie”. Penny stayed in that jar a long time, still believing that he was only good if he was “heads”. He did not know what a “wheatie” was and did not know that this was a description of something that had value because it was unique and had endured.

But one day, someone new poured out all the pennies, and when they picked Penny up and examined him and saw that he had a VDB marking between the wheat marking, they exclaimed “this penny is worth a fortune”. Apparently Victor David Brenner, who designed the “face” of the Penny, had only produced a few. Suddenly, even though he was only a penny, he was worth more than dimes, nickles quarters, fifty cent pieces or even dollar coins. PENNY HAD VALUE that had nothing to do with which side was facing up.

Because he had value, he eventually got “taken out of circulation” and he was now in “penny heaven”. THAT was when he realized that the two sides of a coin was apparently the wrong way to look at any penny. He wished he had understood this sooner.

As an individual piece of money, even just as a penny, he had inherent value. People collecting pennies in order to purchase something did not look at heads or tails to see or count his value. And while some pennies might be low face value some were very high face value…his value had only gone UP. Penny realized his value was in the fact that he was an “Idea” that was evidence of “value created”…he was part of the bigger idea called “money”.

Now some could say that Penny had been a victim because he had lived his life not knowing he had value initially, but the truth was that Penny, in spite of what he believed about himself wrongly, STILL ALWAYS had VALUE. He could choose to pay attention to that, even when his understanding of value was based on the limited assumption of achieving heads or tails.

There was not one side of him that had value and the other side which did not have value. Also, his value did not require him to do anything…just as he was made, he had value. And that value was positive, there were not two sides. Penny expressing value, was the purpose of Money having been created. Penny was rooted in Gold or backed up by Gold.

As she thought of this little penny, Speaking of two sides, she had gotten a message from Y asking her about something funny. regarding M&M’s. Y recognized she was always talking about the big boss. Did these chocolate candies have “two sides”, one good and one bad? She doubted it.

As if to challenge her, Y gave her a commercial to critique, with the message at the bottom that said “The boss wants a word” and the commercial showed M&M’s which were changed because the peanut in the middle was now peanut butter. Then it said “the boss’s boss wants a word”.

M&M was a candy that advertised originally that it would not melt in your hand, and it now had a candy where the peanuts had been ground up and made into peanut butter…still with a hard shell. She loved peanut butter. She loved M&M’s but “the word” was not up to her, the ad had asked for the boss’s boss. It did not matter what color they were on the outside, it was the IDEA of them, what was “INSIDE” that mattered.

She laughed and thought about how everything the big boss created, he saw that it was “good” so THAT must be the word … “M&M” = “good”. She went to the Big boss to see what the response was and it was that he “is real” … Israel. Interesting

IT was almost time to go for her workout routine…time to make her hot ovaltine or maybe snooze a few more minutes.
“A penny for two sided thoughts”? SERIOUSLY. makes no cents. lol

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Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.