One couple's loss is another family's gain.
“What?” called the man, shouting over the roar of the burner.
“I said we better toss the money, you deaf wombat,” she said.
The man looked over the edge of the basket. The mountain was closing in. She was right: they were too low.
“Why we gotta toss the money?” he asked. “How we gonna get round the world then?”
“Balloon’s ripped, you dumb coot,” his wife answered. “We ain’t goin’ round the world no more.”
The man bit the tip of his mustache. “We should toss the food. That’s weighin’ us down the most.”
“Oh yeah, real smart,” she retorted. “Starvin’ to death sounds real nice.”
The man said nothing. The woman took hold of the big green bag and began to lift it toward the edge.
“Hold on there!” the man cried. “That’s $245,000. That’s our life savings, Roberta.”
“Ya, and tossin’ it’s what’s gonna save our life.” She looked him in the eye. “I’m 81 years old, Jerome. You’re 82. Money don’t matter now. What matters is that we’re together. And not blowin’ up on the side of a mountain.”
Jerome thought for a moment. Then he nodded. They hoisted the bag over the railing and watched it plummet down through the sky.
Annie was making dinner when her three sons all ran in at once. It was too early for them to have finished; their overalls weren’t even stained yet. Her oldest had a large green duffel slung over his shoulder.
“Mother,” he said, “the strangest thing just happened.”