Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the winner

she showed them her signed ticket. now it's up to them.

after they contact her she'll know for sure, she'll believe. like when the carnival comes to town and the huckster manning the toss-the-ball-in-the-hoop on the midway cries out and beckons her to step right up young lady and take a chance (calling her young lady when it's a lie). you never know what you're gonna get, if the prize is even real—if you even win anything at all—until you've got it in your hand.

but before she can begin to realize how her life's gonna take a sharp turn, before the phone rings and things get crazy and all hell breaks loose, she's just minding her own business, slowly drinking a cup of tea and looking for some peace and quiet. it's been a long day at work and she's attempting to quell the first signs of a headache. her feet are propped up on the coffee table and she's leaning back on the couch watching dabs of late afternoon sun streaking through the windows and over the potted plants making pretty stippled patterns along the carpet and across the dog's sleeping head propped on the violin case.

then ring, ring, bingo! you're the confirmed winner and now the damn lawyers and accountants and smooth talkers and she's un-listing and unplugging, having to fend off the hacking into and the fishing for and the spam-o-rama and how did they get my cell phone number anyway? she has no idea about the way this works and the images in her mind are loud and disturbing.

in those first moments, when she's still her ordinary self with mountains of bills and laundry and cobwebs and weeds, and life is still quiet and small, the surprise and disbelief make her heart drum and her head zing forcing her to cross her legs in order to not pee her pants. she's a giddy little girl again. she has never won anything—not a thing! not even a stuffed animal!—in her life. the man is telling her the amount of her prize—millions and millions and millions—and she's too amazed to speak. she can only nod stupidly at the telephone, tears streaming down her face, thinking this can't be real, this can't be real, i'm dreaming.

at last she is able to speak again and the man on the other end is pleased he's not talking to an idiot but to a perfectly nice, intelligent lady who is asking all the right questions. she, who occupies that shady, tree-lined avenue called the middle age, that residence constructed of cement solid routines and extra calcium, at long last knows what she's got. the unknown has been revealed.

suddenly her life is all about pens and plans and secrets.

as she eyes the pen in her hand, rocketing words blast her with sign on the dotted line, ma'am. wanna go for a beer, a martini, wanna be a member of this club, a co-chair of that committee, what are you gonna do with all the money, honey, all those new best friends? that's it. sign there. right on that line there. 

she signs on the line of freedom.

in the end starts a foundation to help women and children in war-torn lands. then she buys a remote island where no one will find her, builds some bungalows, fills up her yacht with her buddies and her dogs and speeds down toward grand cayman and her secret hideaway. her plan is to become small again, tiny and hushed, like the grains of beach sand under her feet that disappear when the tide rolls in.

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