Another step and I’d have walked by without seeing it, but a quick stumble drew my eyes to the ground and, there, lodged in gravel, was a half-hidden penny. That day I needed luck to get a job before I lost the damn house, so I overcame my concern about the dirt that would spread onto my hands and potentially into my mouth when I ate, and picked it up. I dusted it on my trousers, wiping the worst of the germs away. I expected to see the Queen’s head – my dad called her the ‘Jelly Bean’ in some kind of convoluted not-Cockney slang – but she wasn’t there. Instead, it had a lizard’s head, briefly, before the Queen came back to replace it.
That’s how strung out and jittery the stress had made me: seeing dinosaurs instead of our Queen. But I kept the coin with me, mostly for luck. I took it out of my pocket and gave it a clean. Out of the corner of my eye, the lizard reappeared. I got better at spotting it with time: there was a knack to staring and not-staring at it, like a Magic Eye puzzle. With practice, the lizard grew easier to see. It was some kind of dinosaur, I reckoned, wearing a tiara that pulled its feathers into a frond.
Now, I’m no paleontologist, but I’m pretty sure T-Rex never evolved to wear tiaras.