Chapter 17 – Quarters - Christmas 2032
LJ helped his big sister carry the baskets of clean and folded laundry to her car. He put the basket he was carrying on the rear seat.
"Thanks for helping, LJ," Tali grinned at her not-so-little brother. At eleven years old, he was almost as tall as she was and still growing.
"Any time, Tals," LJ hugged his sister. "I miss you."
Tali hugged the preteen just a bit tighter, "You know you can call or text any time; if I'm in class, I'll answer when I get out. I miss you too, kid."
"It's just not the same without you here," he lamented.
"But I usually come to visit on the weekends," she added.
LJ smiled a small smile, "Yeah, but you are almost always doing laundry when you're here."
Tali ruffled his hair knowing it annoyed him, "I don't always have quarters for the machines in the common area of the apartment building. One load of laundry takes two dollars in quarters; five for the washer and three for the dryer. If I have more than one load, that's a bunch of quarters!"
"Yeah, I get it…" he hugged her again before she got into her car. "See you next weekend."
Tali signed 'I love you,' as she backed out of the driveway. LJ sighed as he walked inside; he missed Tali already. He wished there was a way to have an endless supply of quarters for his sister so she didn't have to spend a chunk of her time at the house doing her laundry.
As he was getting ready for bed that night, he came up with an idea. He'd get the others to help collect quarters for Tali to do her laundry so that she could spend more time visiting when she came for dinner on the weekend.
Over the next several weeks, he collected quarters from his siblings and a few days before Christmas he went to the bank with Abba. His check for the one hundred dollar prize at the fall art show converted to rolls of quarters to give to Tali. The ten rolls of quarters, four hundred coins, weighed five pounds. He also purchased empty roll papers at the dollar store to put the loose quarters from everyone into rolls. On Christmas Eve, when he put the rolls of quarters into a box to wrap for his big sister, there were thirteen rolls in all; six and one-half pounds of coins.
On Christmas morning, LJ watched as Tali lifted the box with his gift. "Whoa, that's a heavy one," she remarked. "Wonder what it could be?" She shook the box; no rattle or other tell-tale sound.
Tali tore the shiny silver paper from the box and used her knife to cut the tape on the box. She opened the flaps and laughed. "LJ thanks," she looked at her little brother. "This will wash a lot of clothes!"
"Merry Christmas, Tali. Maybe I was a bit selfish, but I wanted to have a way for you to spend more time with us when you are home instead of having to do laundry," he grinned at her.
Tali grinned back at him and pulled the boy into a hug, "Love you, kiddo. It's not selfish to want to spend time with each other."