Money For Laughing

Tilly and I are laughing in a big cafe full of suits on lunch. A well dressed and middle aged man sitting in front of us turns around:


            Great laughing.


He is mainly looking at her; she is more beautiful than me and on this day has a louder laugh. Later I text her wondering if that man wanted to be our sugar daddy. I just say this to sound funny and sexy to her, I am very far away from having a sugar daddy. She says:


That man was writing in an unlined book. I think he was just a renegade. An eccentric character.


When I was about ten my big brother came back from London to visit. He was sad, our dad had only died a few months ago, I wasn’t, I had forgotten the feeling already, or maybe I had just forgotten what not feeling it felt like and it was on me like a biro picture on an uninflated balloon.


We went down town. It was nearly five and the shops were closing, This was the first time I’d seen it that empty. My brother held my hand, he was dressed all in grey and even his hair seemed that colour, although he was  only in his early twenties then. Even though he was sad he made me laugh as we walked along, so much so that I stopped walking, opened my mouth very wide and bent my body in two.


A man wanted to talk to us then. He stopped too and he had that look in his eye that scared me, drunk adults. I was glad to be holding my brother’s hand. The man said:


            Your laugh cheered me up, thank you.


And because of that he gave me a pound coin. We waited till he walked away then we looked at each other, half shrugged and half smirked: well there you go, that’s that then.


I kept that pound for ages. One time I told my mum I was playing shop out the front of my house, using real money and a plastic till. She was upstairs, she shouted down:


            What money are you using?


And I shouted back:


            I’m using the pound the man gave me for laughing.


Catherine Madden