Find a penny pick it up and all day you’ll have good luck.
You ‘ave always made fun of me for tha’ one.
Jenny the Penny you called me.
My whole life I picked up every penny I found. Tha’ glint of light on the ground appeals to the inner magpie in all of us. Do you know ancient cultures thought found coins were important? To find metal was precious it was a gift from the gods. For me, it goes back to being a little kid with my grandma walkin’ across the heath and findin’ my first penny. I held it up to her in the light. All shiny and new like a piece of the sun. Tha’ was when I ‘eard the phrase for the first time. I shoved tha’ coin in my pocket and she said.
“Wha’ you doin’?”
“I’m puttin’ it in my pocket.”
“No Jenny, you need to put tha’ somewhere special. Tha’ coin is lucky. You need to keep it. That’s not for sweets, that’s for life.”
I ‘eld it firmly in my ‘and the whole way home, she gave me this beautiful, old, glass mason jar and made me promise to put all my pennies in it from now on.
Forty years on, I now ‘ave six old mason jars full of old pennies. Each one found on the ground while I went about my business. Not just pennies either; foreign coins. There are two rules. It’s to be found and it ‘as to be the lowest denomination of currency.
It’s all to do with the number one. It represents a oneness with a higher power.
If I found any other coins they go into the pocket with the rest. I try to remember them though and still even now in my forties, I make the effort to spend them on sweets.
Now all tha’ was important so you can understand the next bit.
Do you remember the Spyder twins?
Oh you do, yes, you do, the rough pair tha’ lived in Marshalswick?
Well, it was six years ago and there was a knock on my door and there standin’ in front of me was the twins. They were suited and booted. The one on the left ‘ad a fat lip and ‘alf the buttons ripped on his white shirt and the other ‘ad a black eye and his jacket was all muddy as if he had been rollin’ round on the ground.
Well Jack Spyder, the dad, had died. They ‘ad come from his funeral. The mother ‘ad thrown them out of the wake for fighting each other. They chose to come to me. I ‘ave no idea why; I didn’t even know them tha’ well. The twin on the left, I will call him Fat Lip as I couldn’t tell them apart, had a package wrapped in paper in his ‘and. Black Eye, the other one, asked if they could come in, they needed to talk to me. I did not feel threatened. They were big lads and I knew they could ‘ave a row. At that moment I just felt sorry for them. There was somethin’ broken about them.
I brought them through into the kitchen.
I decided to not make them a cup of tea and reached into the cupboard under the sink and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. Pourin’ us all a slug.
“Now boys, tell me what the problem is.”
“It’s this,” responded Fat Lip holdin’ out the package.
I unwrapped the brown paper and pulled out an old tin box. It was one of them vintage lunch boxes with a seventies TV show emblazoned over it.
“Open it,” said Black Eye.
Inside the tin was a small black moleskin book and a small square of folded paper. I opened the square of paper and there was an American penny. An old one. I picked up the black book.
“Read it out loud,” said Fat Lip.
The boys were not the brightest so I indulged them.
You are two of the most ungrateful sons a man could wish for.
Despite this I still love you.
You will not have my fortune.
So I offer you a different fortune
I want you to learn and look closely at all life has given you.
Your whole inheritance is this box.
Inside is my lucky penny may it bring you luck.
I hope this last lesson teaches you that life needs to be earnt not given.
May it help you to find value and happiness and become the men I know you can be.
Even from beyond the grave I will teach you to be grateful, even if it kills me. Ha, ha, ha.
Now Jack Spyder was a rich man and this was a crummy inheritance by anyone’s standards. He ‘ad left everythin’ to their mother. Leavin’ a hard moral for his tearaways. He had cut them off with a penny.
“I don’t understand wha’ you want me to do?” I said.
“Joey says you’re the penny girl; no one knows more about pennies than you,” said Fat Lip.
“Yeah fix this,” said Black Eye, “we are not allowed back ‘ome until then, Ma said.”
I was flummoxed. I collected found pennies, that’s it, and ‘ere I was adjudicating a family row. I needed more information. I topped up our whiskies and decided to get to the heart of the matter.
It appears after their initial disappointment; sole possession of the penny was key. Sharin’ was not an option. Neither brother trusted the other to turn over the artefact when their time was up. Fat Lip even suggested his brother would swap the penny for a dud. I suggested a third party hold it. Black Eye in particular believed tha’ couldn’t work. The penny clearly had an invisible energy tha’ had once been their fathers. To him, he described it as a super power. Only the next person ‘olding the coin could assume it. To give the power to a third person would be foolish. Cuttin’ the penny in ‘alf might damage the luck, it could even bring bad luck to the boys. It was a puzzle and they expected me to solve it. It did occur to me tha’ despite these two terrorisin’ the countryside for the last ten years, they clearly did not like or trust each other.
“Let me look at tha’ penny,” I said.
It was a 1921 US Lincoln cent. My brain was itchin’. I grabbed my jar of foreign pennies and emptied them over the counter. I started pickin’ through them, discardin’ choice after choice. Then I saw it and ‘eld it up to my eye. Checkin’ the date, it was unbelievable. It was impossible. Destiny has a strange way of tappin’ you on the shoulder.
I returned to the table.
“Are we friends?” I said.
“I don’t understand,” said Fat Lip.
“Are we friends?”
“Yeah, course,” said Black Eye.
“Let’s shake on it and seal the deal.”
We all shook ‘ands and then I picked up their precious penny and slammed it under one hand.
Liftin’ up my hand there were now two identical pennies.
“Hey, wha’ you playin’ at?” said Fat Lip.
“Now calm down and listen. Let me explain.”
I had taken a big gamble. This could end up going one of two ways. There’s no way to stop now I had already rolled the dice.
“Now don’t bother askin’ me which is which. I don’t know. Here you ‘ave two identical pennies. One for each of you.”
“But which one is the lucky one?” moaned Fat Lip.
“They’re both lucky,” I explained, “One of you will get the original penny, the other will get a special penny from me.”
“I don’t understand wha’ makes the second penny special,” said Black Eye.
“Are you not listenin’,” I argued, “Now the one without the original lucky penny, ‘as an identical lucky penny. There is power in a gifted coin from a friend, especially a new friend.”
Grumbling they agreed. To my surprise this simple new solution fit. They each took their own penny, finished their whiskey and got up to leave.
“Don’t forget your tin and book,” I said.
“Keep ‘em,” said Fat Lip.
They then walked out each of them holdin’ their respective penny between thumb and forefinger; walkin’ off as if they were hypnotised. Neither talking to the other.
Up until that day, life for me had been ‘ard and not very lucky. After tha’ day things took a turn. Fixin’ their little problem somehow left me blessed.
So wha’ of the twins?
To me, after tha’ night, they were always Fat Lip and Black Eye, so forgive me for not using their real names.
The most amazing thing ‘appened to the twins. They parted company from each other and went independently out into the world. Black Eye started dating Debbie Moran the model, easily the most beautiful girl in town and Fat Lip set up his own cleaning company and scored some big contracts from the council. They were succeedin’ and thrivin’.
Then they became really famous.
Aah ha, I thought tha’ might ring a bell for you. Yes, ‘them’ Spyder twins. You probably read about it in the newspapers.
No one actually knows wha’ happened tha’ November night, so bear with me as I explain to you wha’ I think happened.
Each brother became convinced tha’ the other brother had the original penny. One envied the girl, the other the wealth. I believe, Black Eye broke into Fat Lip’s house planning’ to steal it. Fat Lip caught him and shot him dead. Then wracked with grief he went mad. They locked him up in Broadmoor.
They should’ve kept that black book and heeded their Da’s message.
They should’ve kept the tin lunch box too.
After they left I kept starrin’ at it. It had a ‘eadshot of Patrick Duffy on it. Tha’ bloke from the TV show Dallas, this was for a show called ‘Man from Atlantis.’ This show from 1977 had been a disaster, Patrick could not do the underwater swimmin’ shots. Only six episodes were ever made, it was supposed to be a big success a lot of merchandise had been licensed. All of it ended up being scrapped. What’ I did not know then tha’ only three of these lunch boxes were thought to exist in the world. This one was number four and in better condition than all of them. It was the holy grail of vintage lunch boxes.
After Fat Lip went to Broadmoor I put it on eBay, it broke all records. It sold for almost four times the price the last one was sold for, twenty thousand American dollars and one cent. Tha’ extra American penny tickled me. It was fate. A gentleman in California was very, very pleased with it.
You know, I also kept tha’ little black book. It was a crackin’ little book. I used to write my shoppin’ lists in it. When I had filled it, I bought a second one. I transcribed Jack Spyder’s message into the front of the new one and read it every time I opened the cover. Always learnin’ to be grateful for whatever life gave me that day.
Do I think I stole from the twins? Tha’ somehow if I had been ‘onest and shared the Spyder’s fortune, tragedy could ‘ave been averted?
I think them twins were born cursed. Their fate was decided the day they entered this world. They were destined to self-destruct. Tha’ tin lunch box was destined to come to me. The karma played out exactly the way it was designed. I just moved the pieces I was supposed to move.
I did exactly wha’ my Grandma taught me.
She gave me the lessons.
It was she tha’ said
Now give tha’ penny to a friend and your luck will never end.
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Floridian here (which is almost American) -- loved the dialogue and the snappy repartee. Totally working class Brit with the dropped h's . . . hasn't anyone seen "My Fair Lady"?? Loved the vibe throughout. Fast paced and charming characters. Good on ya!
She does have a bit of Eliza Dolittle about her. Thanks for the read.
The name for the competition is going to be 'Two Cents', just 'Jenny the Penny' for you guys although I have a seed of an idea for a follow up, so look out for ''Jenny the Penny Rides Again'.
Sorry for the very late comment! I've been really busy this week. As someone who lived in Dallas for twelve years, the dialogue wasn't too bad. I thought it was British at first, because you left off the t in "what" a lot, and in my experience it's more like "Whatcha doin" rather than "wha you doin." Same with the "the"s -- Southerners especially say "thuh" or just "th." Okay, here are the rest of my thoughts, generally in the order of the story. "Need to put tha' somewhere..." would be more accurate as "need't' put that somewhere..." M...
It is a British accent, London working class to be specific. What made you think Texas?
Oh, that would be my bad. I assumed from your comment that you intended it to be an American accent. Sorry!
Does that make it a terrible London accent then? LOL
No no, I was just trying to shove it into an American accent because I misunderstood your comment!
I love how there are rigid rules for what kind of coins! But my annoying brain must know... what happens in countries whose lowest denomination coin is higher than one?!
They go on sweets... it is about that oneness...
For all other coins of a questionable nature that don't fit cleanly into the category, like foreign coins found on home soil. She has a miscellaneous jar for orphan coins with no place to be.
I like this plot line. The shorter format suits you, I think. I didn’t get stuck on the dialect. Does Jenny know the value of the lunchbox when she first lays eyes on it? Or does she only realize after the fact what it’s worth? I’ll be curious to hear how your experience with the competition goes. Good luck!
She realises afterwards but we don't know when as it is not integral to the story. I like the new name... The shorter formats definitely create better stories. Slightly harder to plot and contain. I will let you know how I get on. Any possibe improvements for this?
Here are some suggestions: "You ‘ave always made fun of me for tha’ one." Who's the "you" in this sentence? Is it the reader? Maybe instead say "they." "Do you remember the Spyder twins?" Are you wedded to the name Spyder? I don't love it. "I decided to not make them a cup of tea and reached into the cupboard under the sink and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. Pourin’ us all a slug. Now boys, tell me what the problem is.” This scene calls for more description. Did they drink it right there standing up? Did they toast at all, maybe to th...
Thank you lots to look at. 1/ The narrator is talking to the reader 2/Spyder can change. I thought of something ugly with eight legs and came up with horrible twins. Although a presidential surname linked to the penny might fun, like the Washingtons. 3/Excellent point this needs work, in my head they are just sitting round the table, toasting no one just drinking. The British have alcohol pretty central in their lives. 4/It does and it is an awful joke. But I want to replace it with a joke. I thought without the Ha's it sounded odd. But it s...
Tom..... Please... Please hit the "delete" button on your reply to DAVID G You do not have to defend or explain... with the hope he may understand this time... A single one of your 6 reasons... They are bloody obvious...and were presented perfectly as they were... His nit picking... and rediculous "suggestions".. Show only that he either: 1) has no clue as to maintaining the plot and characterization in a smooth fashion 2) is seeking self-acclaim for his "suggestions" 3).....naw...n...
Hey Ronald, David G is a good writer and a friend to me on here. Critiques are few and far between on this site do the number of teenagers networking here. I asked him to find something in this on another comment thread. I do not have to implement his suggestions. I will listen to them. We comment on each others pieces regularly and he feels the same. I think he has read all my stories including the nine I deleted before Christmas. Thank you for defending me but it was unnecessary as I was not under attack. You should read his stuff, it's g...
David G.... I read...and then reread your "suggestions" to Tom on his Two Cents... At first it appears an honest attempt to aid improvement... but it "smelled" The second read proved to me ... by your excessive nit-picking...and obvious delusional ideas regarding the way Tom's characters interacted (shouldn't you have used more description...like they had a drink ...standing up?...and toasted their dad....or the ha ha ha.... TOM wrote within constraints and to paint an obvious smooth moving story... YOU appear to be a Glory-seeking...s...
Hi Tom can i talk to you? Its related to vocal.
Ask away... I am cooking dinner so i wont reply quickly
But first how about a critique of 'two cents'.
Sure I will do it. So here I go. I love writing and have written for a couple of magazines too. So I want to go further with my story writing where I get financial and regonition too. I would like to know a platform that supports young writers for their work.
Vocal is new but has existed in some form for a while. It is not a supporting platform. The quality of writing is generally poor, lower than Reedsy. There is no comments section, it is like low level publishing. There is some monetisation but it would not even add up to a side hustle at the moment. To get all the benefits you need to subscribe and pay monthly. I have a problem with that as my address is in a different country to my bank account (some payment systems cannot handle that) and they do not accept paypal. I have a love/hate relati...
Hi, if you have any other suggestions for writing communities, could you let me know too?
It's been so long since I have had to read in this format xD. But it was great. I enjoyed the beginning and how you manipulated the prompt! I loved the characters' names and how they were developed. An audacious story written in this way, but interesting and with vibes of wonder. Very enjoyable!! I don't know how you guys are putting these stories together, I am so stuck on this weeks prompts, I got nothing! xD
You still have plenty of time. Congratulations on your win.
To all you Americans out there, how does the dialect read? Are there any places you are getting stuck?
This one is excellent, probably my favorite you've posted here. The voice is very charming and engaging and I enjoyed the opportunity to practice my accent. :). Although indirect, there is a real sense of magic and wonder about this piece. I very much enjoyed it. There were a few grammatical errors (a run-on sentence, incorrect punctuation) which I am sure you will catch on another read through.
Thank you. It came to me very quick. Putting the accent in it however took almost twice as long. It was nice not to having to crowbar in and crowbar out plot points. I hope you are well.
This one does not have to be deleted but is for a competition in about twenty days. The rules were 2000 words maximum, must mention a little black book and someone has to come into a certain amount of money, I will let you read it to find out, how much. The idea with this one, for me, was for it come off as a monologue. A lot of short stories now seem to be written with audio in mind, you can see it in how some creepy pastas popping up everywhere on youtube are structured. So I have structured this like one person telling another a story. Th...
Wow! This was really good! Nice use of the accent it made things more interesting and reminded me of Hagrid from Harry Potter. I enjoyed the slight humour too. The concept was nice and clear, no grammatical issues either! Good job! Two cents sounds good! A couple ideas: The Spyder Twins Which one? Old Sayings What grandma used to say Lucky Charm Wish on a penny 👍
Thank you for these suggestions and reading my story
This is just one of those stories you want to read out loud- thoroughly enjoyed it. I think my favorite part was the (Cockney?) accent.
Yes cockney... Thank you for the read.
I enjoyed your story very much! It almost felt like a moral tale or a fable. Love the dialogues. I thought they added a nice punch to the story. I also like the twins and their nicknames. If I could make one suggestion it is that, because it's two characters, I would have liked to see how they might differ from one another, even if they are both on the greedy side, just a thought. Well done and I hope to read more from you soon.
Thank you so much. The twins are very much a single entity. If I had the luxury of more words I could have differentiated them. I chose to focus on the madness of Penny instead by crafting as a sort of monologue with her doing all the voices.
Completely understand about the word count, it's frustrating. On the other hand, the fact that they are twins also emphasizes the idea of greed, almost as if it was doubled up.
With more words, I would of explored the duality of self in identical twins. How one twin murdering the other is it's own unique form of self destruction.
That's a beautiful idea. Hope you get to work on that at some point.
It is not really for here, I wrote it for another writing account as winning stories for Reedsy tend to be soaked in melancholia. reedsy is pretty awesome for critiques. I have a sequel planned, well a side-quel as I think she is a fun character and could appear in a second closed story. The twin question could be explored in a different set up.
Hi Tom— Looks like I’m late in the critique line. This is a charming story and I very much enjoyed it. The accent was easy to read and gave the story a cultural indicator. I’m American and love accents. My only catch was that I forgot it was Penny talking and was surprised to discover the MC was female. I think because of the whiskey. Anyway, thanks for writing this!!
If she was a real lady she would have a splash of lemonade mixed in with it. This side of the pond they are all raving alcoholics.
A peculiar story and a peculiar voice. Loved it 👍
Yes it was, thank you for giving it a read.
Jenny the Penny on Vocal, check it out (the reads will help with judging). https://vocal.media/stories/two-cents
Tom..... I have only had the chance to read this submission...as you requested. BUT FIRST SOME ATTENTION TO DETAILS.... I am not a YANK..... I am a proud subject of Her Majesty... Living in Edmonton, the Capital of Alberta... Canada And damn proud of it... I am A Management Consultant... Owing my own firm (so add about 20 years to your age) I have travelled extensively throughout North America.... And it only makes me prouder to say.... I am Canadian..... Especially since that assole Trump "Took Over".. How long will it take to fix ...
Hi Tom! This is an engaging story, with believable characters. My favourite line: Destiny has a strange way of tappin’ you on the shoulder. As an American living in London, I didn't immediately recognise the accent as East-London, but I appreciate it might be incomprehensible if you did the full, proper accent. ;) The thing I noticed is that the accent didn't seem as consistent as it could be. The characters drop from the 'h's at the beginning of some words (but not all), and drop the 'g' at the end of some verbs (but not all). Also mi...
I too did a bit of reading this week. Mainly on dialect. A lot of people now want dialect written phonetically but as a reader it is tough. Young readers prefer this method. The way a lot of writers write is to suggest the dialect and allow the reader to pick up the clues creating the voice themselves in their head. Older readers tend to prefer this. This is one reason why I decided not to drop every g or every h. Also this is my accent. I prefer to call it Estuary English. Speakers don't drop every h or every g. I was concerned about creati...
Estuary English, nice! I don't know much about writing in dialect. My brain noticed the discrepancies with the 'h' and 'g', but you ought to write it the way you hear it (or want the reader to hear it). As for the Elements of Style, it's more about fine-tuning and thinking about sentence structure (in possibly a new way). And many people get on just fine without it. :)
I will get it but Brexit is causing a couple of shipping problems, and I do not have amazon as an option.
Hi there!! I think that this dialect was great, but I'd make it broader than just replacing one sound, as I'm sure that there are great complications to accents of English. I would like some more immersion in the moment and some description, but the writing was amazing!!
This accent is working class London. It can certainly be written broader than the three sounds I focused on here. There are two big schools of thought on dialect writing. Phonetically which is an emerging modern preference and the other to change just enough dialect allowing the reader to assume the voice themselves and carry it through the rest of the dialogue themselves. The first is more popular with younger readers the second with older. At the moment I am balancing whether to add more or even to remove some and I am just seeing what fee...
I think you should add more, because it shouldn't be as debilitating to read as a french-canadian accent.
I live in France, I find some written french accents problematic, but I am open to making it broader. This is how I talk, Working Class London. So I will be tweaking it. I sound like Alfie Solomon from Peaky Blinders.
Ah, that's cool!!
I enjoyed this story.
Hi Tom! Such a wonderful concept! Great work, really enjoyed how different it was. And loved the accent! Keep it up!