“It’s our last option,” Lucas said after a hot round of crunching numbers. Stressed, I took in a shallow breath.
“If we have to,” I resigned. It wasn’t going to feel good.
Piggy and I had been together since I was–what, seven? We hunched over the counter in the galley kitchen, swimming in linoleum. The pink, hard plastic pig squirmed. With one hand over its distended stomach, I secured it against the smooth counter tile. Without the aid of any rope, I’d have to hold Piggy still.
Night had taken over, so we turned the fluorescent lights on above for accuracy. Each piece of kitchen equipment took on a ghastly green pallor beneath the fluorescents. Piggy let out a harrumph and wiggled its pointed stubby hooves in the air. I think it knew this wasn’t going to be a good thing.
“Don’t let it roll off the counter,” Lucas directed as he reached for the steak knife. With a surgeon’s precision and a firm hand, he cut across the soft, peach-fuzz belly of the pig. The knife passed through layers of fat. Piggy shrieked and popped out a penny. The dark copper coin spun a few times on the table with a clink, clink, clink. When it landed, I saw it had grown corroded over time with a white-green patina. How many years had I been saving that penny?
“Ajuda me.” Help me, Lucas asked, reaching for my hand.
He needed me not to be bitter about this. I’d have to assist in pulling the money out. Piggy squirmed, bleeding clinking coins all over the counter. They spilled over the edge before I had the chance to catch them. Pennies rattled to a stop against my socks.
“Hold still,” I whispered close to Piggy’s glossy eyes. He looked around as if trying to locate his decades-old friend, but I was not that anymore. After much coin loss, Piggy had resigned to closed eyes and still movement, either dead or from the pain of betrayal, I could not tell which. I pursed my lips. I know I’m not worthy, I patted his snout. Together, Lucas and I poked around the tubular intestines, searching for glimpses of green. He wrenched the cavity open and I felt around.
“There’s one!” Lucas nudged a slippery piece of gut aside. As his assistant, I pulled the dollar free. Piggy came back to consciousness with a squeal. His snout raised to stare us in the eye. After all these years, he seemed to snort.
Lucas took a long piece of shiny gray duct tape and patted it closed over the incision. As Piggy was set aside, we went about calculating our find. We sorted the big change from the small change, and a few pennies were leftover; scraps. I scooped up the remaining cents, the unnecessary ones, and fed them to a dazed Piggy, who sucked them up with one breath.
“I think it’ll be enough for rent,” I said.