Continued from THE CUBE...What happens when the numbers fall into place and Bethany holds a multi-million dollar winning ticket.
I checked and rechecked the numbers for the millionth time. At least once for every dollar the ticket might, no, would win. Even if there were several lucky winners the numbers meant I could donate millions to my favourite charity. Anonymously of course, and there I stumbled on another problem.
Not that holding the winning ticket to a mammoth lotto win was a problem. No. My problem stemmed from the undermining of my faith in the world where I lived.
Magic didn’t exist here. Fair enough, there were magicians. Clever illusionists. I give them credit for their skills, but that’s not the magic I refer to. Nor were the ‘miracles’ performed by saints what I considered ‘magic’, though they ,too, left me wondering and hoping they were real.
If I credited my choice of winning numbers to the strange cube given to me by a total stranger, then I must by default, admit to believing in something very similar to magic. Fate? Destiny? They didn’t quite cover the apprehension and fear I saw in the stranger’s dying eyes. Had he been cynical, when he stood at the crossroad on which I now stood? Did disbelief lead him to a lethal miscalculation? Did I believe in coincidence?
If magic didn’t exist and I ignored the stranger’s warnings, the outcome of not following his precise instructions would leave me with a magical figure in my bank account. Would it also leave me to share his fate, fading away with a lethal disease?
At this stage I can’t even rely on following the choice my character might make. Being an author gives me multiple personalities to run ideas through. Only this was too important to leave to a flawed heroine, hero type or villain.
If I carried on with my plan, donating the winning ticket to a charity of my choice without touching a penny of the windfall, my actions would prove I do believe in magic. Do I? Is this my world, where science rules and logic defies even the most wonderful mysteries? Does God exist? Are we alone? Why do I need to debate these deep topics? My life has flowed from one day to the next, without much drama. Life, love, work and recreation, holidays and chillaxing with my peeps. Nothing to complain about. Mundane but exactly as I envisage things. Of course, I am still waiting, dreaming of meeting ‘Mr Right’ but in the meantime I enjoy each relationship I enter into.
I run my fingers over the winning ticket. The paper is cheap, the print will probably fade. Hardly a million dollars’ worth of paper and ink. It could change my life. Don’t think I haven’t lain awake all night spending every dollar, again and again… The things I could do, the people I could help. Would setting up my own charity count as ‘giving’ the money to charity? Or would that break the cube’s rules. Would I dare try to trick the magic? If I believed in it?
I unfolded a printed sheet of paper and re read the wording I had penned. Anonymous donation. There were more rules though. My rules. Listed in point form. I placed the ticket on the paper and refolded the letter with care. Once satisfied the ticket was safe I slipped the paper into an envelope and sealed it. Taking care, I applied a strip of tape over each end and across the seal. For added security. On the front of the envelope I had printed the words ‘Only to be Opened in the Presence of a Quorum of Members’.
I didn’t want the ticket to tempt an over-worked volunteer. The unregistered winning ticket although on cheap paper and printed with poor ink was worth millions to anyone who handed it in. I wanted to ensure it found its way into the coffers of the charity and not the pocket of one person.
I had also printed a covering letter to explain the need to only open the sealed envelope where enough working members of the charity were gathered. Feeling confident I had taken enough precaution against temptation I closed the brown business envelope, already addressed to the charity in question, and headed to the post office.
The early morning rush crowded the mall. I strode passed the Magic Bean Café, resisting the aroma. My purpose drove me to dodge the scurrying workers. I would join them soon. For now though I had time to spare. I needed it. My hands were sweaty, my knees shaking though I walked determinedly toward the Post office. Joining the queue I needed to remind myself to breathe. I clutched the envelope in one hand, the other strangled the straps of my handbag. Finally, gasping for air as though I had run a marathon I approached the counter.
“How can I help you?” The sales girl addressed me. This was the moment of truth. No return from here.
It took me a moment to calm my racing heart and ask for the envelope to be sent registered mail. Yes, signature required. Yes, tracking. Or should that be ‘no’? I didn’t want the charity to trace the donation back to me. Could I leave a multi-million dollar ticket to find its way through the post?
I chewed my bottom lip, wondering how I could have overlooked researching this aspect of the project. The patient sales attendant became less patient. I dithered and decided.
“Just register the envelope to get to its destination. They don’t need to know it is from me.”
“Seven dollars eighty, thanks.”
She didn’t even raise an eyebrow as she stamped the envelope, initialled the corner and tossed the whole thing behind her into a huge burlap bag.
I believe in magic. I must, why else would I cast aside a multi-million dollar windfall. I was either the world's most gullible idiot or in line to have a change of luck. Good luck.
I turned from the counter and bumped into one of the scurrying workers.
Blake, the ‘oh so hot’ bachelor who worked upstairs and who my colleagues voted “Mr Most Eligible”, caught my arm and steadied me.
“Sorry…” I muttered, still trying to stop shaking. I wanted him to keep holding me. His hand didn’t shake and his strength helped my heart and head focus on something other than the likelihood magic existed.
“Listen, you look a little flustered. Why don’t we grab a coffee, and I will walk you to work.”
“You? What? We, I mean me… would I?” My tongue refused to be associated with further embarrassment and my mutterings faded. I took a deep breath and forced real words into being. “That would be great. I am a little rattled.”
“Great. You aren’t usually in this early. You’re Bethany, right? I have seen you so often yet we haven’t met properly. I’m Blake. I work…”
“Upstairs. I know.” Damn, why couldn’t I say something clever, witty or even keep my mouth shut. Did it sound as if he was a regular topic in our staff room?
He grinned. “Come on. The Magic Bean Café had a spare table a moment ago. I will shout you a drink this time, but next time it’s your turn, okay?”
Next time… Okay, I needed to sit down and re assess my world. What luck, good luck, to have Blake not only ask me to have coffee with him, but to ensure we met again, for a drink.
Unbelievable. I was beginning to believe in magic.
Rosalie Skinner resides on the east coast of Australia when not totally immersed in the fantasy world of her writing.
Rosalie’s love of the ocean, nature, history and horses has enabled her to give her books an authentic air. Her latest achievement has been to ride through the Australian Snowy mountains and see the wild brumbies run. When not watching the migrating whales pass her doorstep she has more humble pastimes.
Other than being a published author, her greatest thrill is being a grandmother. Born over fourteen weeks early her granddaughter’s perfect development and growth are a miracle and joy.