The Coin of Knowledge
I have never been a big believer in luck. The concept that success is a result of actions out of our control and hidden to reality. But fortune. I can get behind fortune. For where luck leaves ambiguity, fortune reveals truth. Fortune is the manifestation of luck and effort interwoven.
No more was that reality made clearer to Rodney than when he arrived home one afternoon after a long day of school and football practice. At nine years old, Rodney thought about sports incessantly. If he wasn't at baseball, soccer, football, hockey, or basketball practice he was competing in some way, shape, or form. He would race to the bus stop to test his speed. And he practiced shooting every time he went to throw something in the trash. Even the once trivial act of cleaning his room had been transformed. It was now an intricate game against his sister for the prized chocolate bar rewarded for nicest room. However, school was a different story. His grades haphazardly swung across the scales with each and every assignment and test. Currently, it seemed as if he was heading for a more permanent dive, like a roller coaster falling off its tracks, dropping the stomachs of his parents as they watched, unsure of how to convince their competitive son that school was important too.
"Rodney! Something came in the mail for you," his sister Diane squawked from the kitchen.
Rodney quickly tossed his backpack in his room before darting through the hallways and into the kitchen.
"What is it?" he asked as he swiped the letter from Diane's hand.
"I dunno," she said. "Didn't have a name or address on it besides yours."
He shook the envelope and noticed a shuffling in between its paper layers. Tearing it open, he discovered a mysterious card along with a small weathered coin, which tumbled out from the fold and into his palm.
"The person who possess this coin and proves worthy of it, shall be granted unlimited wisdom, luck, and memory. Use this gift wisely."
After reading the card, Rodney examined the coin. One side was a Native American elder with a restful and stern grimace. On the other, was an ancient hall or library with large columns framing its facade. He raced his little fingers across the grooves of the coin before quickly biting it between his teeth.
"You're so weird," Diane said.
"I gotta make sure it's real!" Rodney said as he turned around. And with that Rodney took his new gift back to his room.
It tastes like real metal, he thought to himself as he realized he didn't actually know how to tell the authenticity of a coin by biting it. But he needed to test this strange token. He slipped it quietly into his pocket before confronting Diane yet again.
"Wanna play a game?" he asked her confidently.
She nodded in agreement as Rodney raced off and grabbed the checkers out of the cabinet. And with each move of his pieces he inched closer and closer to the first victory he could remember against his older sister.
"What in the world?" she asked him angrily. Rodney grinned ear to ear as their Dad walked in.
"Woah, what happened Diane? You always beat Rodney."
Diane shrugged as their Dad congratulated Rodney on his surprising victory. Rodney once again went back to his room with his new coin of knowledge. Next, he needed to test his memory. He opened his pristine history book and read his history lesson carefully, focusing on each detail and factoid that lurked within the pages. As he returned to school the next day, he discovered his coin was indeed genuine as he breezed through the history quiz for the first time.
Finally, Rodney decided to put his new gift to the ultimate test: English Class. After school that afternoon, he pulled up his notes and eagerly studied the words for the spelling test that Friday. Each word rested deep within his memory as Rodney felt the powers of the coin in his pocket radiate throughout his body. That Friday, Rodney was the first one to turn in his spelling test, each one of the words printed delicately on his paper. His teacher, Mrs. McDonald, looked at him sideways as she double checked the paper to ensure what she saw was true.
At the end of class, Rodney's test was returned with a large "100%" written in a dark green marker. He couldn't help but smile at how he had managed to pull one over on his teacher.
At the end of the school year, Rodney received a blue ribbon as the most improved student. And even though his buddies from football called him a teacher's pet, Rodney didn't care. He knew the truth. He was gifted a strange and wonderful power that he had to use responsibly.
To this day, Rodney carries that coin tucked in his pants pocket, oblivious to the fact that his cherished lucky charm was mailed from his own home.