Stickers from local hardcore bands and chewed gum are all over the rocket ship outside the Winn-Dixie. “I wanna go for a ride,” my little brother says. I had to put him in a t-shirt with the least amount of holes in it to make him presentable. “Only if you’re gonna agree to behave when we go inside,” I say. His head bobbles up and down to show he agrees; I know from us getting banned from the Publix up the street that making him wait never works.
I dig into my right pocket and pull out a quarter covered in what’s left over from a movie ticket. I check the rocket ship to make sure it won’t burn my little brother’s ass before lifting him up and sitting him down. “Ready for blast off,” I ask and his head bobbles up and down again. I make him grip the controls before I drop the quarter in. The rocket roars to life and lifts up and it rocks him up and down. I turn my back to him so I can keep the sun out of his eyes and to preen my hair in case any pretty girls or moms walk out of the Winn-Dixie and pass me.
I put my hand in my pocket again to count the rest of my spare change without looking at it: a quarter, three nickels, and ten pennies. It’s just enough for me to get a donut for us to split after we bring the groceries home. If my little brother knew I had more money to spare, he’d ask for another trip.
The rocket slows down and then lands. I lift my little brother out of the cockpit and he hugs me a little tighter as I get him back on solid ground. “Come on,” I say. “We need to bring home dinner before mom wakes up.”