“Now Available” That is what the sign said on the curb in front of the beachside mansion. “Could you imagine…” Alex said to Emma his loving wife of twelve years, as the bus they were riding passed down the beach road.
“I know, right?” Emma answered her mind drifting to a different place. A place of plenty, a place where money was no longer a problem, a place where they would not have to work twelve hours a day just to keep the roof of the four hundred square foot studio over their heads.
They were on the bus heading to John’s Pass their favorite place along the Clearwater Beach Road. Once a month, on their only Saturday off, they would spend the two hours each way riding the bus. Usually just feeling thankful that they had this day to spend together. They would window-shop at the many specialty tourist shops on the boardwalk; try on the many expensive fashions offered to the wealthy tourists who frequented the pass.
This day was different. Alex was feeling the poverty that they lived in daily especially hard. He thought about the house for sale, and then about the house he once owned, a home every bit as beautiful as this one. Still, that was a different life, a life before Emma. How he wished he could provide for her as he had for the witch, who married him for his money so long ago. Emma had met him when all he had left was the shirt on his back. No fancy car, no fancy house, no fancy boat, just Alex himself. Still, she had and always did love him, and he loved her. It was enough just to have each other to hold at night, a life without luxury, but a life well lived.
“I think we should buy a lottery ticket on the way home. It is Saturday, and the news said the jackpot will be the highest ever.” Alex said to Emma as the bus pulled in to the stop at John’s Pass. “I just know we will win.” He added.
“Really?” Emma replied with a laugh. “As if we could afford to buy a ticket. We only have ten dollars left until payday, and the cat needs food.” Still, the thought was planted in her head. She began to dream about what they would do with all the money. Well, they would pay off their children’s homes. Give money to their friends and families.
Alex watched the boats go by on the inter-coastal from the bench they shared by the water. He would be able to buy a boat, take Emma wherever she wanted to go. They could get a car. No more buses.
The ride home found both so excited. “How about that one? Or maybe this one?” Alex would say as each house passed by the window of the bus.
“I like that one; I could sit on the beach every day,” Emma answered.
The decision made, they went into the Sunoco station at the end of their street and spent four of their last ten dollars on two quick picks.
Supper that night was a quiet affair, both lost in their imaginations. God had to let them win, right? Twelve years of struggles, twelve years of putting one foot in front of the other. It was their time now. It had to be.
Ten o’clock could not come soon enough.
10-17-22-41-48-…Holy shit! “And the Powerball is 9… Alex stared at the screen, and then at the tickets again. “Holy shit… Emmaaaaaa!!! Look, we did it! We won!”
Ten days later the process was complete. They now had four hundred sixty-five million dollars spread through accounts in ten banks. The team of lawyers, P.R. Reps, security guards, and accountants worked ceaselessly to protect them, not only from the public but the hundreds of “friends” that neither even knew they had.
Every day became more difficult; Alex and Emma were never alone, no time for themselves. Decisions had to be made. Moreover, an endless line of requests for money had to be processed. The freedom to live as they had fantasized would apparently never happen. Alex never knew this kind of misery. Their lives were no longer their own.
Emma watched as the numbers played across the screen. 10-17-22-41-48… And the Powerball is 9, “Holy shit… Alex, wake up we won…”
By J.R. O’Neill