There was no message in the bottle the boys found, just seven gold coins, sitting in two inches of cloudy grey seawater. Timmy spotted the green glass illuminated by the morning sun in the distance, nestled under the pier, and out of childish curiosity sprinted towards it while calling for his friends to follow him. Raising the bottle towards the sun to illuminate the contents, he tipped it over. The coins spilled out onto the sand, and the boys nudged them with their shoes before bending to pick them up. They weren’t like the coins the boys received for pocket money, instead adorned by what they assumed to be an Egyptian prince, given his ornate headwear. He looked like Tutankhamun, the current subject of their history lessons. Timmy claimed two, because there were six of them, and it had been his keen eyesight that had led them to their bounty in the first place. Stuffing them into his pocket, he wondered how much they might be worth.
When Timmy arrived home he hid them under his pillow, with dreams of being as rich as Tutankhamun himself. Johnny was less cautious with his, and showed them immediately to his older brother, who proceeded plucked it from his hand and threw it in amongst the belongings he was carrying with him, despite Johnny’s protests and subsequent complaints to his father. The coin settled in the sole of the brother’s right football boot. The other boys locked their coins in drawers, or put them into piggy banks balanced precariously on their windowsills. They kept the secret to themselves, smart enough to not share their findings.
A week after finding the coins, Johnny’s brother broke his right ankle in the second minute of the towns local derby, after a particularly harsh challenge from a player whose great-grandfather had been an Egyptian preacher. The coin had been digging into his sole prior to kick off, but he hadn’t had time to remove it, instead playing on with it. He’d hoped that it might have brought him luck during the game. When they went to remove the shoe from the swollen foot at the hospital, the coin bounced away along the floor, echoing down the halls as if dropped into a jar. Timmy, after climbing into bed following an excited phone call from Johnny, who was waiting in A&E, thought he heard it echoing as he slipped towards sleep. In a dream, he watched it roll under the vending machine. The next morning, after Timmy had risen and gone to school, his mother found the coins under his pillow while routinely cleaning his sheets, pocketing one of them without really knowing why. On walking downstairs to the laundry room she tripped as her leg became tangled in a stray bedsheet, going head over heels down to the first floor landing, laundry hanging like ornate Egyptian decorations over the bannister. Timmy discovered her unconscious when he got back from school, and later found the leftover coin placed on his bed-stand.
After a history lesson on old Egyptian curses, a panicked Timmy told his friends about his dream, while an oblivious Johnny told them about the free sticky-toffee pudding his brother was being fed periodically by a hospital nurse who Johnny himself had a crush on. After a heated discussion the boys returned home to break their piggy banks, and located the coins in the drawers by emptying the contents on bedroom floors. Together, they walked back down to the seafront, with the bust of the Egyptian prince leaving marks on the palms of Timmy’s hand, clenched tight around the coin. As the sun began to set, they each returned their coin to the sea, skimming them in the shadows of the pier, and watching each path end in small ripples gradually lessening.