I know, of course, that it is one of the things you must never do: go through someone’s wallet when he is not present and not aware. I know this in the same way I know, personally and from experience, that you must not defend yourself when someone discovers your incriminating emails by weakly shouting that he had no right to be reading them in the first place. But nevertheless the wallet was there, and he was not, and I slid my thumb between the worn leather and the even more worn grosgrain and flipped it open like a practiced reader with a new paperback. His unsuspecting face grinned up at me from the driver’s license behind its vinyl window. It should have made me stop. I didn’t.
There was no money, of course. There could not have been. There was a membership card to a gym that closed years ago, a movie rental card from the days when people still went to stores and rented movies, a gift card from a store that has no outlets for at least a thousand miles from here. And then there was something else, rubber-banded together and hidden behind the flap. I pulled it out. The rubber band snapped a warning across my fingers. The little papers it had contained spilled onto my lap.
They were pastel-colored with ragged edges, like post-it notes torn smaller. They were handwritten in his usual mixed case print, but neatly. MOVIE, said one. LAUNDRY. KISS. AFTERNOON ALONE. NEW BOOK. BOAT RIDE. SMILE ON THE TRAIN. Some had check marks. Some had been holepunched. Some were wrinkled. CALL FROM MY GRANDMOTHER. Little slips of life instead of the real thing.
The one I saved is in my wallet now, behind the license with the photo of me staring off into the distance somewhere.
HONEST CONVERSATION, it said.
It will never be redeemed.
Prompt courtesy of The Write Prompts.