I am four years old. I'm sitting on the red carpet in my bedroom. A small pile of coins lays before me.
"One," I say, sliding a coin to create a new pile, "two, three, four..."
My seven-year-old sister stands at the door, watching.
"You're doing that wrong," says Karen.
"No, I'm not," I say, my face flushed. "I know how to count. Five, six...."
"No. You're doing it wrong," she says calmly. She holds up one of the brown coins. "This is one," she explains. She puts it aside and picks up a fat silver one with a beaver on it. "This is five. And this," she says, picking up a smaller silver coin with a boat on it, "is ten."
"But it's smaller than the beaver."
"It's still ten," she says.
"I'm going to count it my way," I say with some defiance, "then we'll count it yours."
I count my way. She counts hers.
"Hey, you have a dollar!" she exclaims.
I don't know what this means.
"Yay!" I yell.
"Let's see if Mum will give you paper money for it!"
We run out of the room.
Mum did trade it for paper money, which was pretty fabulous. I nearly gave it away a few Sundays later to a nice man who ate supper at our house. He was so nice. I wanted to show him I how nice I thought he was. I ran to my room, pulled the dollar from my bank, and offered it to him. He was very flustered and refused it.
I'm not sentimental with things, but I still have that dollar. I have no idea why I've kept it. I never planned to do so. After a few years, I still had it. I got into the habit of keeping it. I kept on keeping it.