She keeps it in her wallet although she knows she will never spend it. It’s not a currency for a country she is likely to return to, and even if she does, she hopes by then she’ll have forgotten all about this note, tucked in amongst unused loyalty cards and old receipts.
He gave it to her to buy condoms. He was working overseas, she was visiting. She had forgotten to pack any – for some reason, it was always her, never him, that bought them. When she arrived, earlier that day, he seemed preoccupied, distracted. He’d kissed her, same as he always did, and they’d gone for pizza and wine, which had been nice, but everything seemed muted, in contrast to the excitement she’d felt on the plane.
Muted, but hard to explain why.
After dinner, they’d gone back to his apartment and she’d realised there were no condoms left in her washbag from the last time she visited. He had already stripped down to his boxer shorts.
‘Here,’ he’d said, handing her a note. ‘You can get some from the pharmacy down the street. There’s a machine on the wall outside.’
She takes the note. She decides to use the bathroom first. And that, perhaps is her mistake because there, in his washbag, on the bathroom shelf, is an open box of condoms.
She picks them up, returns to the bedroom with them. As soon as he sees the box in her hand, the colour drains from his face. He doesn’t have to say anything – they both know he’s guilty.
That night, she stays in a hotel. The following day, she flies home. She slips the note into her wallet on the plane. She’s intending to put it in the charity envelope, but she can’t bring herself to do it.
She’ll still be carrying that note around five years later.