Written with my Thursday group with the prompts: do you think I made that up?, my hands have my attention because they hurt, blurry faces, where did you see me?, what is the temperature?, my neighbor, we should do it again, she can’t hear you, goddess for a night, follow me, making wages, what are you waiting for?, edible landscape, keep the change, complete details, greased lightning, 35 years ago, musical voice, fire in her eyes and spit. . .
“Keep the Change” was Cathy’s favorite phrase back when she was working the register at the ice cream parlor. The flirty boys would come in, Dads, and even old guys too. They thought they were giving her a thrill leaving a quarter, a dime, a couple pennies for the tip jar. Well, she learned to play her part, gauge the temperature, her supervisor called it. This mentor schooled her well. With the old guys, she told Cathy, you can gush a little but you have to act all innocent-like, just grateful for a father’s advice. With the younger guys you can flirt, but keep it clean, not too sexy, promise ‘em nothing, you know what I mean? When you’re making wages, you gotta walk that line. Milk it, sure, make ‘em think they’re smarter than you know they are. That’s the ticket, that’s the way to pay the rent.
That was 35, 40 years ago. Cathy diligently saved those coins. She changed her name to Cate, and she learned how to invest. Now she’s got more money than you can count. She used it to found her non profit. org called “Keep the Change!”—what else would it be called? It attracts mostly young people but a lot of seniors too, life-long idealists still hoping to change the world for the better—and then keep it changed!
Cate leaves the leg work to her grandchildren now. She spreads her message of peace and healing online. Her avatar changes with her mood, generally day to day, but sometimes hourly. Today she might be a dynamic woman in her prime with a musical voice, belting out protest ballads from the 50s and 60s. Tomorrow she’ll be a teenager with fire in her eyes, spitting out angry frustration at the state of the environment. But she declares herself goddess each night, a Divine crone with a half dozen arms, each hand hurting from years of labor: rocking babies, digging stones, picking cotton, and sewing leather aprons. I am every woman, she cries. I am every joy and every sorrow. I am my neighbor and my enemy and my lover and I am you. Follow me. What are you waiting for?
On the physical plane, Cate lives in a fertile valley, an edible landscape made of toasted bread and candied almonds. Nasturiums bloom in her footprints and every tree bears fruit year round. She bathes in oat milk and tends her arthritic fingers with raw honey. She leads a secret life, but I know her and I am giving you the complete details. Do you think I am making this up?
Cate is convinced this is working. She is certain her country, the world, and democracy will be redeemed. When the time is right, she has a plan. She will mount her horse, her beautiful yellow filly named Lightning, and she will ride out into the city and bring good news. Not yet, not yet. The faces in the crowd will be blurry to her crone eyes, and she may not be able to hear you, but wait for it. Did you see her when she did this before? She is practicing in darkness, and soon, she will do it again.