I Won, by M. Leon Smith
The paper of the cheque felt as smooth as glass against my finger tips. With my eyes closed I imagined that I could feel the indentations from the pen that had filled out the amount but that was just a flight of fancy. A computer, cold and uncaring, had sent the paper through a printer and blown my life apart.
The numbers screamed at my eyes, dared them to believe. The size of the win was beyond my comprehension, my brain scrambled desperately trying to find a logical explanation as to why I was suddenly a multi-millionaire, how it had happened to me. It failed.
I sat in silence, the only sound was the ticking of the clock that sat on the mantelpiece and the occasional car passing by. I shook and tried to make sense of the situation. The number was just so… big. Too big. And why had they included the seventeen pence? Wasn’t the rest enough?
I closed my eyes again. Maybe when I opened them again it would be a figure I could deal with but it wasn’t. The black ink still roared against the pale blue of the paper, insisting that I make a decision, do something.
I looked across the room at the telephone lying on the floor, its wire torn from the wall. It had been the only way to silence it. Journalists, “well-wishers” and out-and-out beggars all wanted me and my money. It turned out that £23,567,993.17 was enough to make me very popular. Everything I wanted was mine for the taking, only…
What did I actually want? A new house? A car? 3D plasma screen? Cruises? No. None of that. What I wanted was Lorna. It didn’t matter that I had all this money. Lorna was priceless and couldn’t be bought. So what good was it? I could have everything I wanted, except her.
I looked down at the cheque again. It mocked me. Only I could turn this into a problem. Only I would focus on what I had lost, could never have. I should be drinking champagne and lighting cigars with £50 notes but no. I was sitting in my tiny little flat crying that the girl who dumped me ten years ago still wouldn’t have me back.
But it wasn’t just her, was it? I would have to give up work and I loved my job. I wouldn’t get to see Jim, Graeme and Tina on a daily basis. How could I? Would I have to buy their friendship now? Should I give them money? Would they take it? Be offended?
I would have to move. This flat was tiny but it was home and I would have to leave it. Yes, my new house would be bigger, smarter and have all the gadgets I could dream of but it wouldn’t have that view would it? I wouldn’t be able to look out of my bedroom window and see the park where I had had my first kiss or the outdoor pool I learned to swim in. I would lose my connection to my past.
When it came down to it, that was the problem. I had been disconnected from my own life in the blink of an eye, unplugged from everything that had made me who I am. I was adrift in my new present, my whole life rebooted, reset and restyled. All by that insidious little cheque.
I could tear it up. Destroy it and make this all go away. But that would be foolish, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? I didn’t know what to do, my numbers had finally come up and all the dreams, the what ifs?, suddenly didn’t matter. This was real and what did I do about it? Just what the hell did I do?
A knock at the door ripped me from my thoughts. Had they come to me in person because I had pulled the phone from the wall? I kept silent, suddenly feeling like a prisoner in my own home. The knock repeated then a voice called, “Open up, dingus!”
My doubt and fears receded. He would know what to do. My oldest and closest friend always managed to sort things out or, if he couldn’t, he made them marginally better. He knocked again.
“Alright, alright. I’m coming,” I called as I made my way to the door.
“You look like crap, man,” he said as soon as he saw me. I ignored his comment and walked back to the sofa. He followed, closing the door. “So… is it true?”
I pointed to the cheque which I had left on the mantelpiece next to the clock. He picked it up.
“Sheeee-it. What you gonna do?”
“I don’t know. What would you do?”
He swung his backpack off his shoulder, pulled out a couple of cans and threw one to me.
“Me? I’d have a beer.”
M. Leon Smith started writing in 2009 as part of his rehab following a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis that led to him becoming a wheelchair user and the loss of sensation in his hands. Since then he has had
over twenty pieces published, including Induction, and Growth Spurt. You can find out more at mleonsmith.com.
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Tags: lottery, m leon smith, money