Pages

Monday, March 2, 2015

NO SUCH THING AS LUCK by Kai Strand

Luck is nothing but knowledge and hard work.
***

Meet Kira Langley. A young professional who has strategically worked her way up the ladder. Clever, educated and focused. Kira Langley doesn’t believe in luck or fate or anything random or divine. Kira Langley believes in herself.

Today is a big day in Kira’s already successful career. She has a presentation at 9:00 AM that could land her the firm’s largest account. When Kira strides purposefully out to her car and finds two of her tires slashed, she doesn’t consider it’s bad luck. She curses the worthless punks who slashed all the tires of the cars along the road and jogs in her high-heeled pumps to the bus stop.

Before Kira was successful enough to buy a car, she always took the bus. She knows the 7:40 will get her to work in time for her presentation. She arrives at the stop just as the bus pulls up and is the first to board. She doesn’t consider it good luck that her favorite seat is open. The one next to a wheel well and perched on top of the large electrical box, though the least comfortable seat and with minimal foot room, it mercifully only seats one. She plops onto it and digs her earphones out of the front pocket of her purse. Then loses herself in the world of inspirational speeches.

At the Washington Park stop, Kira finds a small, mousy woman standing in the aisle staring at her like one of the walking dead.

“What?”

The woman’s mouth moves, her face scrunches with concern, she gestures behind her.

Kira shakes her head and removes an earbud, before repeating, “What?”

“You’re in my seat.”

“There are no assigned seats on the public bus.” Kira arches an eyebrow and examines the woman’s frumpy clothes and forlorn look.

“It’s the firmest seat on the bus. I have back issues.”

“That’s a shame. I’m sorry for you. Perhaps you should fix that instead of using it as an excuse.” The woman doesn’t budge. “Move along.”

Kira puts her earbud back in and stares out the window. A mangled pile of cars blocks an intersection. Police are directing the bus driver through the carnage. As she watches the fireman work the Jaws of Life to extricate a driver, she shakes her head in disgust. It was bound to happen. People are always running the yellow light on this corner.

The reciting of one of her favorite mantras in her earphones pulls her attention from the grisly scene. She chants silently along, “Success doesn’t just find you. You chase it down and tackle it.” When she reaches her stop, she gets up and scans the bus. Mousy lady sits a few seats back. Kira gestures to the seat and sees the corners of Mousy’s mouth dip in a pout. The tiny woman’s large seatmate has trapped her in. Kira shrugs and exits the bus. Because she still has her earphones in, she doesn’t hear the squeals and cries behind her as people stumble off the bus.

The electrical box under the seat Kira sat in exploded, showering the nearest occupants in sparks. Half the bus is evacuated before smoke and flames erupt from under the cushion. Mousy woman staggers onto the sidewalk, coughing the acrid electrical smoke from her lungs and watches Kira stride purposefully away. Thankful beyond measure for her good fortune that the mean young woman refused to give up the seat.

Kira continues up the block on foot. Silently repeating the most recent mantra with the speaker on her recording, “I am the master of my success.”

A display in a jewelry store window catches Kira’s attention. She pauses to examine the beautiful brown jewels. Her eyes scan the small signage with the fancy scroll font. “I’ve never heard of chocolate diamonds before.” She imagines the choker of rectangle cut stones hanging around her neck and she smirks at her reflection in the window.

Glancing at her watch, she makes a mental note to stop in the store later and start her research on the origins of chocolate diamonds. As she turns away from the window a man flashes past her. She only has enough time to register his five o’clock shadow, rumpled army jacket, and that he’s clutching something to his chest. In front of her a woman screams, “Stop him! He’s got my briefcase!”

Kira tucks her own briefcase securely under her arm and continues toward work.

She enters the lobby of her office building and glimpses the clutch of people milling outside the bank of elevators. She doesn’t even pause. The elevators are slow to begin with, but if that large of a crowd has gathered, the lifts are having one of their slower days and she doesn’t have the time. She swings open the door to the stairwell and starts a slow jog up the seven flights to her floor.

She’s in good shape and the mild, steady progress barely even raises her heart rate. About the fifth floor the stairs seem to shift beneath her, making her stumble. She quickly regains her balance and only allows the slightest thought to the cause of her trip. After all, she’s currently reciting her favorite mantra, “Luck is nothing but knowledge and hard work.”

At the door to her floor, she pauses to turn off her motivational speech, store her earphones, and catch the little breath she lost. Smoothing her pencil skirt, she yanks the door open and strides into her office.

“What’s going on?” Kira asks the receptionist who, though still sitting behind the reception desk, is staring at the agitated crowd gathered in the seventh floor lobby, chattering like a flock of birds.

The young woman turns wide, watery eyes on her and flaps her gaping mouth a couple times before speaking.

“Oh Kira! Thank god you’re okay.” The receptionist blinks away tears. “One of the elevators crashed.”

“Crashed? As in…what? Like the cable broke and it fell?”

The receptionist shrugs, but nods.

Kira turns and scans the crowd, immediately realizing it’s impossible to do a visual roll call of over two hundred employees.

“You’re really lucky you weren’t in it.” The receptionist’s tone has an ethereal quality as if she truly believes a higher power played a part in Kira not being on that elevator.

Kira rolls her eyes and checks her watch. Five minutes to spare. “I don’t believe in luck.” She paces toward her office, calling over her shoulder, “Are my clients here?”

“Yes, they’re in the conference room.”

Kira smiles wide, more than ready to make the pitch to land the firm’s largest customer and seal her place near the top of the ladder. Head held high, she nods at the few people still at their desks instead of clustered in the lobby hoping to catch a glimpse of the horror show, noting that Jerry—who she’s had her eye on for awhile now—is working diligently. It seems Jerry understands it isn’t about luck

***

Kira Langley, successful young professional. Works hard and works smart. She’s the master of her success. Kira Langley, doesn’t believe in luck or fate.


Fortunately for Kira, they believe in her.
-------------------------------------------------

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was an EPIC eBook Awards finalist. Her young adult title, King of Bad, spent eight months on the publisher’s bestseller list. As a mother of four young adults her characters are well researched and new stories are inspired daily. Kai is a compulsive walker, addicted to pizza, and a Mozart fangirl. Visit her website for more information about her work and to find all her virtual haunts; www.kaistrand.com.