How the World Was Made


The old woman lay on a mattress of dollars, watched wind and light sneak through a crack in the boards above her feet. She got up, crossed to a pile of dollars in the corner of the dark room. Chickens out in the yard clucked, scratched.

She pulled a few bills from the pile, dipped them in a bowl of rust-colored water, pasted them across the crack of light in the wall. The wind pushed against the wet bills as they slowly dried against the old bills that already papered the wall.

Outside, she looked east. The sun was rising above the edge of a flat plain. She opened the wire mesh gate of the chicken coop, knelt in dust, pulled some dollars from her pocket, tore them into tiny pieces. The chickens gathered around her. She told them the story the way her mother had told her.

"Dollars bred dollars," she said, "until there were too many. They clogged every room, every closet, every bed. No one could breathe. People clawed through the dollars, toward their windows. And the windows burst with dollars." The chickens pecked at the bits of paper scattering in the wind. "People in the streets pushed and shoved each other," she said, "shouting for joy, clutching at the rain of dollars, stuffing bills into their pockets, growing heavy with the laughter of so many dollars."

"Dollars flooded the fields," she said, "washed down into the ditches. Mama and her family ran outside, dancing. And the dollars descended, whirling over everything just as it was promised..."

The old woman finished dropping the pieces of paper, struggled to her feet. "And that's how the world was made," she whispered. Everything loose in the yard flapped softly.

number 20 in the 2River Chapbook Series