The Exchange – Part 1

The Exchange
A Treasure Pines Christmas Short

Maggie stood at the counter of the Thrifty Purchase, holding firmly to her vintage Yashica Mat. She gave the clerk a nervous smile.

“Are you sure about this?” One of the clerk’s eyebrows raised higher than the other.

“Yes. I’m sure.” Maggie nodded, the eager motion contrasting with the hesitation in her voice. She gulped and rushed to add, “I’d like to trade this camera for that album.”

The clerk retrieved the item in question and smiled at Maggie. When she didn’t immediately react, he nodded at the object in her hands. Maggie set the camera down, pried her fingers away and pulled her hands back so they lie palms-down on the counter.

“This album is a real treasure. You don’t often see Beatles’ vinyl in its original packaging,” the clerk chatted.

“It’s for my boyfriend. He’s really going to love it. And you don’t think anyone would buy the camera before next Wednesday?”

“Not too many camera aficionados in a town this size, Maggie. You’re not looking to re-purchase your own camera are you?”

“Um, yeah. Is that okay?”

The clerk shrugged. “It’s fine by me, but why didn’t you just ask your grandmother if you needed extra money for the holiday?”

“I know she’d be happy to help me, but this is something I wanted to do on my own.” Maggie shuffled.

“And you didn’t want to pawn it, I gather.”

“No, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.” Maggie gave a little shudder at the thought of going to the pawn shop.

The clerk gave her a knowing smile. “I see. This isn’t for your brother then?”

Maggie shook her head. “No, it’s not for Ben.”

“I wouldn’t have taken him for a Beatles fan anyway,” the clerk remarked as he finished ringing up the sale.

Maggie declined the complimentary gift wrapping, signed the slip, and left the shop with the album in a paper bag tucked under her arm. When she returned to the apartment over her photography studio, she went straight to her room and slid the package into a drawer of sweaters.


That evening Sam came over with tacos from Baja Market and they kept up their tradition of sitting on the floor and eating at the coffee table while streaming a movie through a monthly subscription service. Last week Sam picked The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a western starring John Wayne and James Stewart. This week was Maggie’s turn to pick.

“What movie are we watching?” Sam asked, setting out the food. He took a rawhide from a separate bag and handed it to Harvey Wallbanger, Maggie’s golden retriever. The dog took the treat in his mouth and went to the corner of the room where he climbed into his chair.

Maggie settled on the floor next to Sam with a grin. She leaned up to kiss his cheek. “You’ll see.”

The image of church bells faded onto the screen. The sound of their tolling filled the room but soon gave way to the tinkling of sleigh bells.

“Ugh. It’s a Wonderful Life, again? No way.” Sam shook his head, his eyebrows forming a single line across his forehead.

Maggie’s grin broadened. “Oh yes.”

“But this will be the third time we’ve seen Clarence earn his wings since Thanksgiving.”

“Sorry not sorry, Sam. I’ve watched Liberty Valance rob that stagecoach how many times now?”

Sam rolled his eyes as he leaned over to kiss Maggie on the forehead. “Okay, you win.”

To be continued next week….


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