Prompt Story: The Nickel

I organize a prompt writing group that meets online once a week to share writing we create based on various prompts. The exercises are meant to develop and solidify a writing habit and to help get the creative juices flowing. You never know when a piece written for a prompt will turn into a longer writing project. I will be sharing some of the stories I’ve created on this blog.

Prompt: Write a story about someone who starts noticing the same object or phrase wherever they go.

The Nickel

by Carolyn Fenzl

© 2021, Carolyn Fenzl. All rights reserved.

Denise stood awkwardly in the hallway staring at an office door. Her coworker had sworn that one visit with the psychic behind it would change her life. Denise had felt like she was in a rut for some time, both personally and professionally, but it’s not like she was desperate. Wasn’t consulting a psychic desperate? Wasn’t it just throwing money away?

She sighed and pushed her doubts from her mind as she opened the door to the office. Just like at any business, a receptionist sat behind a large desk. Denise gave her name and the receptionist nodded as she checked her appointment book. Then she motioned toward a closed door behind her, indicating Denise should go through.

On the other side of the door, a smartly dressed woman with curly blonde hair rose to greet her. They shook hands and sat on opposite sides of an oak desk.

“May I?” the psychic asked, taking Denise’s hand again.

Denise shrugged and nodded at the same time, not sure how to react.

“Hmm,” the psychic said. “I’m getting a very strong reading.” She paused, perhaps waiting for a response, but when Denise just sat quietly, she continued. “I see a nickel as being important in your life.”

“A nickel?” Denise repeated confused.

“Yes,” the psychic confirmed. “In fact, a nickel will save your life.”

Ten minutes later, Denise left the psychic’s office convinced she had indeed wasted her money. Leaving the building, she breathed in the pleasantly warm air and decided to skip the bus and walk home.

After a couple blocks, her throat became scratchy from the pollen swirling around in the air. She coughed several times before deciding to stop into a convenience store for some water. Pulling a bottle from the refrigerator, she brought it to the register and laid a couple dollars on the counter.

“That’s $1.50,” the clerk said as she scooped up the bills. “Sorry, but I’m out of quarters and dimes. I only have nickels for change right now,” she explained, counting the nickels into Denise’s hand.

“Strange,” Denise mumbled as she left the store, considering her pocket full of nickels. “But a pocket full of nickels is a long way from a nickel saving my life.”

As she continued her walk toward her house, her cell phone rang.


“Denise? It’s mom.”

“Mom, I can’t talk right now,” Denise said rolling her eyes and wondering what unsolicited advice her mom had called to offer today.

“I just need a minute,” her mom forged ahead. “I talked to your sister, and she said you refused to be set up on a blind date.”

“So?” Denise answered.

“So, I just think you should keep your options open. That’s all I called to say. I just wanted to give you my five cents on the matter,” her mother said before hanging up.

As Denise returned her cell phone to her pocket, she continued down the street, pondering her mother’s use of the term “five cents.” Five cents was a nickel, but her mom’s advice had never saved her life before.

Up ahead, an elderly homeless man with a sign strapped to his chest shouted angrily at passersby. Denise slowed her pace and dug into her pocket for change to offer the man.

“Don’t fall for it!” he yelled at her as she put the money in a cup by his feet. “They trick you every time. Don’t take any wooden nickels!”

Denise, startled from the yelling near her ear, backed away and continued her walk. She was only a couple blocks from her house when the sun glinted off something in the street. She walked to the curb and looked more closely. It was a shiny nickel. Still thinking about the psychic’s prediction, and wondering if this would be the lucky nickel, she stepped into the street to pick it up.

Suddenly a hand shot out and grabbed her arm, roughly pulling her back onto the curb. A car honked and sped past. Startled, Denise realized she just narrowly avoided becoming a statistic.

She looked up into the hazel eyes of a tall, well-dressed man.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Thanks to you. You saved my life!” Denise breathed.

“Just being a good Samaritan,” the man laughed, and then stuck out his hand to Denise. “I’m Nick Lewis. But since my best friend is also named Nick, my friends just call me Nick L.”

“Nick L.” Denise repeated, her heart starting to beat fast once again.

“And you are?” Nick L. asked.

“Denise,” she sputtered, realizing a Nick L. actually did save her life – just like the psychic predicted.

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