She held the $100 bill firmly with both hands, but gently so she wouldn't wrinkle it. Her heart began to pound.
Courtney felt excited and sad all at once. She had never held this much money at once. And on the other hand, she wished she had stumbled upon it just a few minutes later. If she had taken her time putting on her coat she wouldn't have seen the elderly woman drop it, the very one getting into the backseat of a car just 20 feet away. But because she knew who dropped it, she knew what she had to do.
"Ma'am!" Courtney shouted, running to catch the door just before it closed.
"Oh my!" gasped the woman. "Me?"
"Yes, ma'am," Courtney replied. "I saw this fall out of your bag just a minute ago." She held out the precious bill.
"Goodness!" the woman exclaimed. "Well, that would have caused a wrinkle in my day!" Courtney smiled and took a step back.
"Thank you, sweetheart!" the woman called out as she closed her door. Courtney smiled again, waved as the car pulled away, then sighed. In the movies the woman would have been so grateful that she would have given Courtney the money. Or at least offered a reward or something. But real life didn't always work out like that.
Courtney turned and hurried up the street. A quick glance at her watch told her she was late. Again. Which probably meant that she would be fired. Her boss had told her she was out of chances, and ironically she had used the "helping an old lady" excuse two weeks ago when she had simply lost track of time reading a book. She felt her stomach clench as she wished she had kept that money. The lady wouldn't have noticed. No one would have noticed. And if she had enough money to pay someone to drive her around, then surely she would have recovered from that loss just fine.
Courtney shook her head. She used to think stuff like that all the time. But since her life-changing decision, she decided that the right thing to do was the right thing to do, no matter what it cost her. She just had to face the music, then figure out the next step from there.
She could do this.