Sndbox Summer Camp Writing - Task 2: The selfmade woman
This is part two of my Sndbox summer camp writing quest. It's the first time I wrote a story of 2000+ words in a week, so i'm glad that I got the challenge done . Hopefully you'll like it.
The selfmade woman
I bring my thumbs to my temples in an attempt to relieve some pressure. The soft touches feel nice, and I try to control my breathing to get my racing heartbeat down a bit.
“This can’t be happening. This is not true. I misread… That must be it.”
I get up from my chair and walk to the kitchen where I take a glass out of the sink to fill it with water. A challenge with trembling hands like these. I take a few sips and put the glass down.
I walk back to my living room and take a moment to stare out of my window. The street is quiet on this friday night. The chinese restaurant on the opposite side of the road is almost empty. A tiny lady is scrubbing the last tiles. A pigeon on the windowsill of my left neighbour is joining me in this quiet and peaceful moment. His eyes fixed at the same window, as if he's waiting for something. Is he waiting for the lady to put out the trash? Are pigeons that smart? I don’t know.
The soft noises from the fans of my computer disrupt my thoughts and bring me back to reality. I know I need to confirm what I saw. Sweat is dripping all over my body. A nauseous feeling is starting to kick in.
“Come on Mila, it’s only a few numbers. And if you misread, it won’t change a thing anyways. Just do it.”
Another deep breath as the pigeon spreads his wings. The chinese lady is on her way out.
“Wish me luck, buddy”
As slow as possible I shuffle to the computer at the other side of the room.. I take a seat and move the mouse a bit so that the screensaver disappears. Once again I look at the winning lottery numbers.
4 - 11 - 6 - 20 - 5 - 17 - 2
I check the ticket on my desk. The series is identical to the one on my screen. I blink a few times to make sure I’m not missing anything, but the scenery stays the same.
“Mila… You won the lottery” I need to hear the words out of my mouth as if they would make it official. A warm glow spreads all over my body as I start jumping up and down with my hands in the air.
“I WON THE FUCKING LOTTERY. I WON!”
A quick search on Google informs me that I have to call a special team of advisors for “the big winners”. My phone call gets answered by Leila. She tells me that I have to make an appointment at the headquarters to sort everything out.
A short drive later I'm in front of a beautiful glass construction in the main street of the capital. Two big dudes in black are guarding the entrance. I grab in my purse to feel if my wallet is still there. The ticket that will make me a millionaire. It changes everything. The thought makes me grin as I cross the street.
“Hi, I have an appointment with a certain Leila. Can I enter, please?”
Both guards give me a long, attentive look like they hadn’t even noticed me crossing the street. The guard on the right takes off his shades and takes a step forward.
“What kind of appointment should that be?”
I grab the wallet out of my purse and show him the winning ticket.
“Here it is. Yesterday’s winning lottery ticket. I won the jackpot, and I’m here to see Leila from the advisors team for big winners.”
The left guard takes off his shades as well. It looks like I have both their attention now. The guard on the right stretches his arm, as if he wants to check if it isn't an ordinary piece of paper. I give it to him with a smile.
“It’s crazy, right? Yesterday, when I was checking the winning numbers, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was sure I would pass out from excitement, no kidding!”
The guard gives me a subtle grin while checking the ticket. ‘I’m sure that must’ve been a great feeling, madam. This is a valid ticket. You can enter."
The man takes a step back and opens the doors. I snatch the ticket out of his hands and hop my way into the entry hall. A flowery smell catches me, but I can’t quite distinguish the scent. A combination of violets and lavender perhaps.
My eyes get drawn to the gray tiles. They're beautiful in combination with the silver chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The green marble pillars supporting the roof complete the scenery. I shuffle forward. I try to remember if I’ve ever been in a building this nice before, but my memory falls short. At the end of the main aisle I get greeted by a young lady with brown hair.
“Hi, I’m Leila. I suppose you’re Mrs. Macedo?”
“Yes, I am.”
She puts her hand on my shoulder to direct me the way. “Perfect. Follow me. Let’s get to business”
I say goodbye to the guards and walk back to my car. The team of advisors were nice. Leila was in charge and gave me a little explanation about how to manage my funds in a responsible, smart way. It’s not everyday that someone wins five and a half million, so I guess that procedure isn’t abnormal. She told me I should stay anonymous for as long as I could. Take a little vacation to get out of the picture for a while. Let all the media-attention calm down a little bit.
According to the team I should change my phone number, change my email-address and postal box. I shouldn’t lend money to friends or family, I shouldn’t buy fancy expensive things right away. In short: I need to go on vacation, get a new identity and do nothing with my money. Not exactly the answers I was looking for. Finally I’m in a place where I can give back in life, shouldn’t I take full advantage of that?
A short walk later I hop in my car and ride to the nearby Porsche dealer. Since I was a little kid I’ve always been fascinated by the design of the 911 Carrera. It was the fastest car in Need for Speed Underground. My dad and I played that game for hours, making the virtual streets unsafe. I could allow myself one impulsive buy. One little present.
I park my car and walk into the store where a salesperson greets me.
“Good day madam, what can I help you with?
“Uhh, I’m looking for a 911 Carrera, a brown one if you have it.” I try to make it sound casual, like i’ve been doing this my entire life. I’m a selfmade woman who’s been buying Porsche’s for decades, not a lucky lottery winner. I look the man right in the eyes, but he doesn’t hold the eye-contact for long.
“Sure. Follow me to the desk and we’ll take a look at delivery times. Have you thought about possible options you want in the car?”
I hesitate for a slight second. I hadn’t thought about delivery times. “Do you have a showroom car I can take with me right this second? Money isn’t a problem. I take all the options you have.”
The man stops in his tracks and turns around. He has a slight frown on his forehead, adjusting his tie a little bit. “I’m, sorry madam?”
“I want the car right now. Brown if possible, if not you can give me another darkish color. I don’t care about options, give me the 911 with the most options available right this second. As a matter of fact, you can give me a second 911 as well. I guess my dad would love an early birthday present.” I cross my arms behind my back, like my teachers did back in school when they were making an important remark.
The salesman takes off his glasses and wipes them clean with his handkerchief.“Sorry madam,but this is quite… unconventional. Let me talk to my boss. I’ll see what I can do for you.”
I take a seat next to Mr. Tilliger on the front row. I don’t know his first name, but I know he’s a well respected heart surgeon. He’s a frequent visitor of charity conferences like these as well.
I put my purse next to my chair leg and turn his way. “Good evening doctor. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
Mr. Tilliger turns my way. “Hello Mrs….”
He doesn’t know my name yet. “Macedo. Mila Macedo.” I reach out to him.
“Ahh of course, Mrs. Macedo. The pleasure is all mine.” He takes my hand with a big smile and puts his other hand on my shoulder, as if we were already lifelong friends. “I admire the work and commitment you’ve shown for charity in the last few months. Your efforts have been nothing but amazing.”
My cheeks are getting red.
“I’m flattered. Those words mean a lot from someone as involved in the charity world as you are, doctor. Thank you.”
“No need to thank me Mrs Macedo. And you can call me Reuben by the way.”
A lady steps on stage. The audience starts applauding and I re-adjust myself to join in the clapping. A subtle hand gesture silences the crowd.
“Good evening everyone. Welcome to this special charity conference. It’s great to see so many generous people together in one place.”
The speaker leaves a pause, which gets filled with another round of applause.
“It’s one thing to donate to charity. It’s a never ending work as we all know. But it’s another thing to be completely devoted to the right cause, and to be as generous as the few gathered in this room. Each one of you has made a tremendous difference in the past months. Let’s take a look at what we’ve accomplished so far.”
“Thanks for rushing Mrs. Macedo.”
I try to control my breathing from the heavy sprinting i’ve done. “What happened? Where is my father?”
“I’m afraid I can’t give you all the details madam. Your dad has been in a car accident and needs surgery as soon as possible. I’m sorry I have to bring this up, but the costs of these interventions aren’t cheap. Mr. Macedo isn’t covered by insurance. I don’t know if…”
“I don’t care about the money. I’ll cover the expenses. Get the surgery done, all right?”
“Very well. Follow me.”
The doctor leads the way to the frontdesk of the entry hall. “Sarah, Mrs. Macedo will cover the expenses for the surgery of Mr. Macedo. You can take it from here, thanks.”
He gives me a modest smile before leaving again.
The nurse gives me some forms to fill in.
“You have to sign there and there.” She hands me a pen and points to a box on the bottom of some pages which I sign without hesitation.
“Very well, thank you. If you would like to insert your card now, please.”
I take my debit card out of my purse and enter my code. The three beeps that should follow, change in one long, awful sound. The nurse looks at her screen and closes her eyes for a second. Her lips squeezed together.
There’s no receipt. I take my card out of the machine.
“I’m afraid the payment got rejected, Mrs.”
I shake my head. “This must be a mistake.” I take the end of my shirt and wipe the chip of my card clean. “Can I try again, please?”
The nurse presses some keys on her keyboard and points the the machine to let me try again. Once more I give in my code, which produces the same horrible sound as before. My heads starts pounding as I try to think of reasons why this is happening. My hands start to shake. My view is getting blurry. I take out the card and mumble something about a bank and be right back to the nurse. I turn around and walk towards the exit.
“Didn’t you hear me straight? I want to see the manager, you incapable moron!” I slam my fist on his desk. Blood is pumping through my vains.
The banker keeps a neutral face and retreats to a little office in the back. A few seconds later another man comes to meet me.
“Walk with me, Mrs. Macedo.” With a swift swing of his arm he leads me back to the office he came out of. He shuffles back a chair and takes a seat on the other side of the desk.
”Please, sit down.”
I follow his command and try to make my head clear again. I shouldn’t have yelled to the guy at the desk.
“Mrs. Macedo. If I understand this right, you tried to pay for a hospital bill which got rejected. I understand that the matter is urgent, but the facts are inevitable. Your account balance is insufficient. We can't process the transaction.”
My headache seems to prevent the impact of the words. I stare at the manager. “But… How.. That can’t be possible. I was… I had… There’s no way.” I have a hard time finding the right words. A glassy layer of tears starts to cover my eyes.
The manager takes a piece of paper, turns it around and places it in front of me on the desk. “This is an overview of all the transactions from the last three months. As you can see, a lot of money got donated to charity causes lately. We can’t help you any further, I’m afraid.”
With trembling hands I take the page from the table and look at the number at the bottom. I gasp for air. The page slips from my hands as I stand up to make my way to the exit. My legs feel like they’re made from stone.
I unlock my car and bury my head in my hands as I take a seat. The gravity of the situation starts to sink in. Tears are dripping from my eyelids, onto my cheeks before landing on the leather car seats. After all the people I've been able to help the past months, I now can't even care for my father. The irony. There's only one possible way out of this. I grab my phone and dial his number.
"Hi, Mr Tillinger? Mila here... I need your help."
That's it! I want to thank everyone who took the time reading this. Please let me know what you think about this little story in the comments, even if you didn't like it. I always appreciate constructive feedback.
See you next time.