Freedom From Money

Entry by: writerIBXVEJZUDO

7th April 2017
Freedom from money

By the time I reach the park it is early afternoon. The sun, high in the sky now, pours across my shoulders, down the ridge of my nose; it drips through the trees, rolling off the pointed ends of their leaves. My shadow crouches, shrunken, by my feet, clinging to my legs like an embarrassed child, afraid to be splashed by the light. She crawls along the path below me as I approach my usual bench and sit, squashing her out. Sat now, I take a closer look at the disk in my hand. I had pressed it so firmly into my palm as I was walking that it left a little circular mark. I bring the coin close to my face, examining its dull golden colour and the script embossed in an arch across it in thick, demanding letters. The edge is ridged; it feels satisfying to the tip of my finger which traces it the whole way round. Facing upwards is a lady’s profile, scratched into the silver centre. I say lady, though she is a woman, and quite old, with tight wrinkles at the corner of the eye that peers out and the thin lips that give way to her plump, round cheeks. She is no doubt a lady, nonetheless, her posture straight and rigid. I wonder where she was a lady of, how it was that her face became plastered on this coin. I straighten myself to match her, suddenly aware of my slouch. She doesn’t notice though, her stern gaze passes me by, fixed on something to my left of evidently far greater concern. I turn her over. On the other side is a man, wearing a tall hat and a sombre expression. Was everyone in those days so miserable, so stern? I don’t remember being, though they insist we were. My memories are more like pictures, still shots of scenes, people. It is hard to compare a feeling gone with the feeling that takes its place though, so maybe they’re right, maybe we are happier now. I flip the coin. The man’s face is replaced by the lady’s, then she disappears and morphs into him, before he becomes her again. They take turns like this until the coin lands back in my palm. I cover it quickly and guess which face will be on top. I am right, it was the man’s. His face, the coin’s face. Faces on faces, four in total, five if you count mine. That was something they didn’t like about the old time, all of the faces. They said we were corrupted. Faces of makeup, such a focus on appearance, but everyone was. Two-faced we’d say when someone betrayed us, spoke about us behind our backs. But we were all the same in this duplicity. I look back at the coin, now at the woman’s face. She will have been duplicated too, there will have been millions of people with her face zipped away in their bags, or tucked in their pockets: another face to use. Above her head is a curve of numbers, like a halo, a wreath of wealth. A 1 stands there proudly next to three zeros, three ‘oh’s. Oh, I had said in surprise, as my fingers brushed against the coin at the end of the drawer earlier in the day as I was reaching back for a pair of socks. It is still fairly common to find coins around, though there is no use for them anymore. Most people toss them away though there are some collectors, who will exchange things in return for a trinket to add to their collection. This one is so common though, there is no point taking it to one of them. It is not completely useless though: it still brings me delight to find coins like this, or a bank note, scrunched up in the back pocket of an old pair of jeans. There is nothing to do with them, but examine them. And I like to examine them, these coins and notes. They really are notes, little pieces of paper, with scrawls all over them, a message from another time. Little, worthless souvenirs.
I close my eyes and tilt my head back to face the sun, feel it warming my skin. My eyelids are pinkish, then a deeper red, bright. Yellow sun spots speckle them. I try to focus on these spots, these freckles, but every time I do they jump to the side; I am never able to catch up. As I concentrate they fade to green, first mossy then more blue. Most are not perfectly round, and many are clumped together; they appear like waterlilies on a shallow pond. The pond. Across the pond we would say. America. I had never been, but I watched their movies, saw their shows on the TV until they were cut off. The americans were the worst they said, so bound up in their materialism, slaves to their lust for money. The tiny figures inside my television seemed content to me, as did their audiences, who I rarely saw but sensed were there, out of frame somewhere, by the sound of their laughter. We were being freed, we were told, as the government seized our money, drained our bank accounts. They would trade on our behalf, so that we could focus on regaining an honest life, so that we could see what really mattered. We were free from money. This freedom isn’t as easy as they said it would be. It’s hard not to miss the things we used to have, simple things even, chewing gum. Now we trade in favours, and the meagre rest is provided for us. I re-open my eyes, and look down again at the coin in my hand. Getting up finally I walk towards the fountain at the centre of the grass rectangle. Jets of water shoot up, out of its core, falling continuously in bubbling streams. You used to throw coins into fountains like this, make a wish as they sunk. The blue tiled bottom before me is empty however, someone has stripped it bare. They should know that that’s unlucky. I take my coin, and get ready to throw it, preparing my silent wish. What, it occurs to me, should I wish for? My family are healthy, we are all safe, at least so it seems. With everything else stripped away, what else is there that I really want? I have everything, I believe, as I am told to believe. Yet there is something gone, not an object but a feeling, a sense, of the time before. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but there is something missing, I feel its hole beneath everything else, I feel its loss. It’s not just money that they took from us, it is our power. They said they were freeing us from money, from our money, but that our is important. Money was a freedom, when it was ours. We had the ability to choose, who or what we wanted to spend it on, where we wanted to go and how we could use it to take us there. When they freed us from money, they took away that freedom.