Those who teach writing tell you to ‘write what you know’. I’m not sure if I subscribe to that wholeheartedly, because who has ever seen a Balrag? I guess they could take it up with Tolkien.
There is an element of truth to this story though. I did have a pink sweater and it did have a tiny pocket and I did find two dollars in it one day that I had forgotten about.
But alas, that is where the fact and fiction take leave of each other.
I’ll let Chloe take it from here.
Chloe Tuttle Of Bogwillow
Chloe Tuttle put her hand in her pocket. Well, to be more precise, she put three fingers into her pocket, for it was a very small pocket indeed. It was on the left side of her pink sweater, the one with the snaps down the front. It was so small that she often wondered why the person who designed the sweater had bothered with it at all. But when she pulled out her fingers, there were two dollar bills folded up that she had completely forgotten about putting there.
“Good heavens, look at that, two dollars!”
She immediately went into her closet where she had a chest of drawers and on the chest there was a little round wooden box that she had bought at a craft fair once. It was made of two different kinds of wood put together. It was striped like a Cheshire cat. She lifted the lid and plopped the two dollars in there. It was where she kept her rainy day money. Then she went about her day.
Three days later, she was waiting at the Bogwillow train station, on her way to the “big city” 30 miles away to go window shopping and eat a picnic lunch in the park. It was a treat she allowed herself three or four times a year. She was amusing herself while waiting by picking a small bouquet of lavender from the plants along the fence near the tracks when a shabbily dressed man came up and asked her if she had train fare to spare. She was embarrassed as she usually kept her money deep in her little backpack and it was awkward to get to in these kind of situations.
She began fumbling in her coat pocket for money she knew wasn’t there and then realized she also had on her pink sweater. She made a show of checking the pocket that she knew was empty. But she felt something. Out came a ten dollar bill. She stared at it in disbelief. There she stood, holding it up in plain sight, looking at the man.
“I guess this is your lucky day.” She said, and handed it over to him.
He took it carefully and looked at it to make sure he was seeing right. “God bless you ma’am, God bless you.” He then headed off to the ticket booth.
Where had that money come from? She hadn’t even worn this sweater since the other day. Bizarre, that’s what it was, just plain bizarre.
The following week she was sorting laundry and checking pockets and came upon the pink sweater. She laughed. “Better check this pocket. Ha!” and poked her fingers in. And froze. The smile faded from her face. She sat down with the sweater in her lap, afraid to take her hand out of the pocket. She closed her eyes and pulled out a folded twenty dollar bill.
“What is going on here? she asked loudly, This isn’t mine. I didn’t put this in here. . . I did NOT put any money in this pocket!” She stalked into the closet and shoved the money into the wooden box and slammed the lid down. She firmly put the whole thing out of her mind as she was not one to give into wild fantasies.
* * *
Two weeks went by and she didn’t wear the sweater on purpose. It was starting to creep her out. But this day, she was in a hurry and just grabbed it and headed out the door to the grocery. She walked the four blocks to Parker’s Groceteria and went inside and picked up a shopping basket. She was choosing some apples when she heard two old ladies talking just down the aisle.
“Look Edna, it’s a box of Dillman’s chocolates. I haven’t seen these for years and years. Remember when father used to buy them for us for our birthday when we were girls? It’s your birthday tomorrow, let’s get you a box. . . Oh my look, this costs twenty-five dollars! I’m afraid that’s too much. I’m sorry for mentioning it Edna, I really am.”
Chloe looked at the ladies and then down at her pink sweater. “I wonder.” She said under her breath. She ran her left hand down the side of the sweater and felt inside the pocket. A shock of recognition struck her like lightning. She pulled out a folded bill and looked down at it. Fifty dollars. She felt lightheaded. How can this be happening?
Before she could think about it too much, she walked over to the sisters. “Excuse me ladies, a gentleman came up to me a few minutes ago and asked me to give you this.” And she handed over the bill.
They unfolded it in amazement. They both looked up and her and then started searching the store. “Where is he?” they wanted to know.
“I’m afraid he has already left.” Chloe lied.
“Well, I never!” said Edna.
“Happy birthday!” said her sister and picked up the box of chocolates and handed it to her with a twinkle in her eye.
“Thank you my dear.” They said in unison to Chloe, and then laughed.
Chloe raised her hand, “I was only the delivery girl.” She said smiling at them both. “I hope you enjoy your birthday, AND your chocolates.”
They left her, arm in arm with the chocolates between them and their heads together. What a story they would have to tell their neighbors!
She made her purchases and left the store quickly. When she got home she took the sweater off as if she was afraid of it, which at this moment was the truth.
After putting her groceries away, she sat down on the hall bench and looked at the sweater hanging across from her. Nothing she could concoct in her mind made any sense. Not one little bit of sense. But being a frugal and modest little woman, Chloe was not of a bent to overdoing things. She made her mind up not to do anything outrageous, but she did have an idea.
From that day on, once a week, Chloe made a trip into the city on the train. She would do her usual window shopping and lunching in the park and invariably the opportunity to give someone money would present itself. From time to time she would even find that money was in the pocket for herself. Perhaps while looking at a particularly tempting book or pretty scarf, she would find just enough money in her pocket for the purchase. But these times were few and far between, for she really did have simple desires.
She went on this way for years and years and it gave her no end of pleasure to be the channel for these small charities. But she always kept the secret to herself. Partly because she didn’t want people to think she was crazy, and she had a feeling that if she told anyone, the sweater would just turn back into a regular pink sweater with a little pocket on the left hand side.
When Chloe finally passed away at a ripe old age, most of her belongings were given to the Salvation Army. Including the pink sweater.
* * *
One day, Odella Henderson went shopping. She found a rather worn, but still charming little pink sweater at her favorite second hand store. She paid twenty-five cents for it. When she got home, she tried it on with a pink and white checked skirt that she thought it would go perfect with. It DID go perfectly.
She turned this way and that, looking in the mirror. She smiled at her reflection. Not everyone could be so pleased with a twenty-five cent, pink hand me down sweater. But Odella was. She pulled on the hem of the sweater to straighten it and noticed the little pocket on the left side. It was so tiny. She reached into it to check it out, and felt something. Out came two dollar bills folded together.
“Good heavens, look at that, said Odella, laughing out loud, Two dollars!”