Wanda’s mother tucked her up in bed and blew her a goodnight kiss from the doorway.
Eleven-year-old Wanda deemed herself far too grown-up for kisses. She grabbed the silly thing out of the air, pretended to press it against her lips, and waited for her mother to close the bedroom door and head downstairs.
Quiet as a mouse, Wanda reached under her bed, retrieved a glass jar, and stashed her mother’s kiss away. At last — a full jar! She’d sell it to the highest bidder the very next day during her walk to school.
Lonely men were Wanda’s prime customers; they paid a pretty penny for a jar full of kisses from a handsome woman like Wanda’s mother. But today she was faced with a brand new and wholly different client — a little boy, surely no more than eight years old, with a handful of pennies in his hand.
“I’m an orphan, see?” he muttered. “I don’t have much money but… I’d really like to know what it feels like to be kissed by a loving mother.”
Wanda rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated groan, but she couldn’t help but be moved by the child’s words. “Fine,” she said. “But only this once. I could earn four times as much from one of those old men. You better make them last.”
The orphan boy took the jar with a shy smile and ran off down the street.
It was only on the walk home from school that Wanda noticed her usual customers were wandering the streets with glazed eyes and dumb smiles. “What’s with you lot?” she asked.
“Lovely kisses from a lovely lady,” one of the men murmured.
Wanda spotted the orphan boy further up the street, counting out a thick wad of notes. She seethed.
“Oi, you little oik!” she shouted. “Did you sell those kisses on? You cheating, lying, robbing little scrote!”
The boy grinned. “It’s entre… entre… entrepreneuuuurial. Bigger profit margins when you sell them one at a time.”
Wanda raised her eyebrows. “That’s pretty smart, actually.”
“Hey… do you wanna go into business with me? I’ll provide the kisses, you’ll flog them, and I’ll give you a thirty percent cut.”
“No way! Sixty-forty.”
The boy smiled. “Deal!”
The kids shook hands and set to work figuring out their business plan.
Meanwhile, Wanda’s mother hummed along to the radio as she washed the dishes, utterly oblivious to the many, many mouths her kisses had touched.
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