“Did you say, one penny?” The woman stood dumbfounded, looking directly at the counter clerk.
“Yes ma’am, that’s the remaining balance on your layaway,” replied the clerk politely. The woman’s eyes quickly welled up and tears began flowing down her cheeks. She stumbled out a few words, “How did this happen?” To that question the clerk smiled. “An anonymous donor wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and covered most of the remaining balance,” she paused, “except one penny.”
The tears were flowing heavily now and the sobbing became audible as the woman braced herself on the counter, overwhelmed by the facts laid before her. Chloe stood 20 feet away at the edge of the aisle, watching with a heartfelt smile upon her face. She opened her small Moleskine journal and noted the date and place before checking the column for positive and placing a score of 8 in the final column. She snapped it shut and clipped the mechanical pencil onto the binding as she casually strolled out of the store.
Chloe unlocked the car and slid into the seat, pulling the journal out once again for review. She flipped to the last page where only two sets of numbers were written. The first was a date, tomorrow, and the second was preceded with a plus sign and then followed with the number 410. She looked around the pristine interior of the car and down at her designer clothes and second guessed herself for a moment.
She had spent the last 3 years doing good deeds wherever she went, and had noted each one down in the journal. If she did something negative, she would note that as well, but judging by her current tally, her behaviour had been mostly positive. She had also reaped the benefits of those good deeds, and gave herself a negative score in a separate section to represent the spent Karma. Tomorrow however, the experiment was about to change drastically.
When this all began, she was in a rough patch and had little to show for her life, materially and emotionally. Chloe had read a book called “365 Thank Yous” that she found at the local library and decided that she would adapt it to use good deeds to change her life around, and by all measures it had worked. She had however made a promise to herself: After 3 years she would reverse the trend and do negative things that were selfish in nature and see if her life would continue forward. After all, in both cases she was helping herself, just that the former method was also helping others in hopes of a Karmic boost.
She slipped the pencil from the journal and clicked it twice, thrusting the lead out one centimeter. She turned to a fresh page and wrote at the top, “Dirty Deeds – 410.” She worried it would take a while to whittle that number down, but it was going to be fun to do.
This is part of a 30 day series of 2-3 minute short stories written for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2011. You can view all the stories in the Short Story A Day category.