Three children bunch together at the counter, sun bleached hair and freckled faces, the littlest two standing on tiptoe to hoist their snub noses above the counter. They bounce from foot to foot and watch the eldest with idolatrous eyes. She squares her shoulders and orders in her best adult voice. 

“That’ll be three twenty-four.”

The eldest proudly opens her hands over the counter and releases a few bills with a clattering fistful of coins. “Pennies! Pennies! Pennieees!” screams a delighted little sister. Behind the cash register the clerk heaves a sigh, hides a grin, and starts painstakingly sweeping the sea of change into her wide meaty palm. The spokeswoman slouches under the weight of fading confidence.

“Is…is…that enough? I can get more.”

“Naw, baby. You fine.”


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