A red barn with a tin roof stood in the green yard behind the clothes gently whipping in the light wind on the line in front of it. Wood stacked along its side climbed high against it. Small golden glints of light reflected the sun hovering above it all on the structure’s metal roof. It caught my eye, the bright gilded pinpoints called me up to them.
The rough bark bit at my bare hands as I pulled up onto the wood using the stack to get to the roof. The logs tumble away with every advance, removing a safe retreat, pushing me forward. The hot metal on my hands gnawed at me, quickening my ascent to the roof. I stood looking at the flicker of the sunlight bounced from several coins scattered across the roof. Hunger for the promise of their worth had me across the bending tin to it.
The roof sunk and popped in loud protest with my every step. The shimmer of heat still blurred identification of the yellow-orange circles of light. Bending to grab the first, I took in the perilous heights from where I stood. Looking across the yard, a form moved between the rows of hung clothing. Without seeing I took the warm metal coin, hot and hard in my hand.
I smiled as I felt the heat transfer from the metal into my palm. My fingers unfolded revealing the copper coin I had climbed for, a penny. With some disappointment, I grabbed another, then another. I noticed that there were coins everywhere on the roof. I made my way up here on folly, and the quarry was small but innumerable. A voice called up to me.
“Grab them all, and you will never want for a thing,” the man behind the clothes on the line said. I would be up here for hours if not longer, chasing pennies. But I was up here and it is only time, I argued to my own self. As I thought this another voice called.
“My son, take only what you need, and come back to the ground. You will have enough always for need,” the man from whom this voice emanated stood below me on the roof away from the whipping clothing.
“Take them all,” the other man obscured said.
“Come down, son, and walk with me and you will never need,” said the man by the barn. I looked at his scarred hand outstretched that he waved beckoning to come from the dangerous precipice. I took the pennies in my hand and placed them in my pocket and looked at all the golden glints I’d yet recovered. Looked at the man with the scarred hand and saw his promise in his eyes, again to the glints offering me their promise, then to the man hiding among my once dirty clothes. They both offered me a promise, but only one offered comfort.