That winter, I went to the ATM to withdraw everything. My plan was to leave all the money in a trust for my cat. Later, I would drown myself in the ice-crusted lake.
But, when the gears of the machine whirred, it didn’t spit out money. Instead, through the slot, the machine produced a long blue feather, perhaps that of a heron, or a tall blue jay.
The gears whirred a second time, and out appeared a tiny tooth with sharp angles, like that of a marten or a weasel. Once again, I heard the gears, and this time, in the machine’s mouth emerged a piece of bark, brown and mossy and wormy.
I went into the bank to ask the teller what the hell was wrong with their machine. I showed her the feather, bark, and tooth in my hand.
Haven’t you seen money befor e? she replied.
This isn’t money , I said, waving the bark in her face, small wooden shards falling to the pristine white of the countertop. This isn’t money, I repeated .
I remember how she reached across the counter, took the feather from my hand and said, It’s so soft, sometimes money is so soft. She lifted it to her face, and rested her cheek against it like a pillow.