I am a ten pound note.
Crispy and new I was stacked with a pile of compatriots in an airless bank vault before being given, still stacked, to an old lady.
Lena was long widowed and didn’t have a bank card so every few months she would withdraw cash to deal with bills and ‘needs’.
Her canine companion, Louis, an obese miniature dog of some sort, had recently died and Lena had found a new dog at the RSPCA and required funds to buy supplies.
I lay in Lena’s fake Chanel patent leather bag, until I was separated from my companions and given to a small pet shop in a market, as payment for leads and collars and toys and treats.
I stayed in the pet shop, until I was given as change for a purple velveteen cat collar and faux fur catnip mouse; gifts for an oriental cat owned by a middle aged, recently divorced woman. I stayed in her Anya Hyndmarch bag for less than an hour before I was handed over, with a pile of other notes, in the cosmetic section of an upmarket department store in what seemed to be a panic buy of anti-ageing products.
I then moved into the predominantly plastic filled wallet of a gentleman who bulk bought expensive French perfume; one for his wife, one for his daughter, one for his secretary and one for a potential mistress.
I lingered there a matter of moments before I was removed, two stores down in a chain book store, and exchanged for a stack of ‘aeroplane read’ paperbacks, to accompany the man on one of his many business trips.
I stayed in the book shop cash register overnight, and the next afternoon I was change for a young woman’s purchase of books on healing and alternative therapies.
I then travelled in the wallet in her rucksack to Glastonbury, where I was payment for a piece of rose quartz in a crystal shop.
Part of the pay packet of the young man who worked in the shop, I bought a round of drinks in a noisy bar on the Glastonbury high-street, before being handed back as change from another round, to an American tourist and his wife.
The night in the bar I went back and forth many times, until I ended up nestling in the back pocket of the expensive but grubby jeans of a young London man who was visiting the town.
The young man handed me over at a petrol station on the outskirts of London and I was then given to a young couple from Germany who were driving to Cornwall for their honeymoon.
In St Ives I was transferred to a small local supermarket as payment for a packet of cigarettes and a coke, then given to a teenager who was buying an energy drink and chocolate.
My next payment was to a young Cornish man for some hash, and then I was back to the pub for more multiple transactions, over a very long Saturday evening.
I was starting to look grimy and by early Sunday morning became even more so when the jeans I was in, went for a fully clothed, early morning drunken swim.
The mother of the young man who was wearing the jeans, later picked the dirty sodden clothing, along with other articles, off the bedroom floor to put through the wash. She pulled the wad of wet tissues and scraps of paper that were compressed around me from his pockets, throwing us all in the bin.
The daughter of the household, a teenage bulimic girl who was rummaging through the rubbish looking for laxatives that she thought her mother had taken from her room and thrown out, found me and took me back to the same young man I had earlier been in the possession of, who sold amphetamines as well as hash.
I stayed with the young drug dealer for several days until I was used as a payment at a garden centre; the cashier briefly hesitated about accepting me due to my tattered condition, and I then ended up in the possession of a retired couple who were buying cat repellent to protect their vegetable garden from the local defecating felines.
The couple then stopped in at the local chemist to pick up a prescription which they used me to pay for.
I was given as change to a woman who was picking up various prescriptions for depression and sleeplessness, needed since she had broken up with an abusive boyfriend. She stayed a while to talk to the pharmacist who seemed to know her well, before she shoved me into the back pocket of a pair of too tight jeans.
I stayed in this pocket for nearly a week.
That night the woman took all her medication, washed down with alcohol. Her body wasn’t found for five days.
It had been the start of a bank holiday weekend so there was no work absence to alert anyone, and she had no family or acquaintances who cared enough about her to note anything awry.
The coroner’s assistant removed the trousers and emptied the pockets, but I was so worn, stained and foetid, he threw me in the incinerator with the young woman’s clothing.
I was a ten pound note, now I am ash and memory.