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4

TWO DOLLARS

Assignment #3 - Tweet

How can one tiny piece of paper hold so much joy and so much pain? Lotto jackpot. Illegal parents. 3.6 mil = deportation. #makeourmark #who

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Assignment #2 - Misery

Sunday. Slow day. Only the most desperate came in on Sundays. That shitty day of the week between the disappointment of Saturday night and the reality of going back to some shitty job on Monday morning.

The door of the bar opened and a wall of heat invaded. Here comes another one, he thought as he wiped down a glass with his dirty rag. She took a seat at the end, farthest from the door.

“Whiskey soda,” she muttered, not looking at him. She probably wasn’t even old enough to drink. But who was he to turn away misery? He plunked a drink down in in front of her and it immediately began to sweat.

“That’s six.” She pulled some crumpled bills and a lottery ticket out of her back pocket.

“No use buying those here,” he said, gesturing at the ticket. “Lightening don’t strike twice.” She winced and quickly shoved the ticket and a couple of damp bills back into her jeans. A bleach blonde waved him down at the other side of the bar. He sighed. This one wasn’t talking anyway.

The door opened and everyone groaned. “Shut the damn door, Rita,” he grunted. Rita kicked the door closed with a high heel, then gave it an extra bump for effect with her sequined hip.

“What’s with the gettup?”

“There’s a millionaire in town Hank. Surely you’ve read the papers.”

“Just because the ticket was bought here don’t mean that jackpot winner is any where near these parts.”

“Oh he’s here. And I’m gonna find him,” said Rita grabbing a stool. A low howl, like a sick cow or a broken boiler, rumbled through the bar. Hank looked towards the bathrooms. The girl’s stool was empty.

“What the hell is that?” asked Rita.

“That’s misery. Plain and simple.”

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Assignment #1 - Two Dollars

Everything is completely different, and everything is exactly the same, she thought as she fingered the lottery ticket in the back pocket of her jeans. Never in her wildest dreams had she thought she would win but damn if her numbers hadn’t lined up exactly right last Tuesday. Two dollars had bought her this little piece of cardboard riding around in her jeans. It was like a gold nugget, a paper genie that could change her life forever. But instead, here she was sipping a watered down drink at the local dive bar with a handful of other desperate women looking for a way out of this sorry town. She was 19 for god’s sakes and life already had her trapped.

 Dot’s parents were illegals. They’d snuck over the border before she was even born and had worked as invisibles, always under the radar, always blending in. She was the first one of her five siblings to be born in the U.S.  Her parents had named her Dorotea, after Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but the locals soon shortened that to Dot, and that’s what she felt like now. A dot on a map going nowhere, and fast.

 She’d graduated high school with honors and had dreams of going to Stanford to study marine biology. But people who lived under the radar didn’t let their kids apply for financial aid. And they certainly didn’t let them claim lottery tickets, no matter how big the jackpot.

 Dot wanted that money so badly. It would change everything. And everything included getting her parents deported. Then what? Go to Stanford with all her little brothers and sisters in tow? Never see her parents again? The American dream. Ha. What had it gotten her but a part time job cleaning rooms at the local motel. 

 She looked down at her drink sweating onto the damp cocktail napkin, then slid off her barstool and walked to the back of the bar. Next to the bathroom was a door marked “Employees Only” and she brazenly walked in. Near the back, down low, under a shelf stacked with jars of maraschino cherries and Planter’s nuts, there was a tight space that she could crawl into. Dot squeezed in and slid a giant box of cocktail napkins in front of her. She grabbed a fistful of napkins and shoved them in her mouth, then she screamed. It was a scream filled with anguish and frustration, of lives that would not be lived, of jobs that would not be gotten, of houses that would not be bought or men who would not be loved. It was a scream that rocked the foundations of the bar, but no one noticed. Her scream was a tune that ran through all the souls in that town.

3.6 million dollars and she couldn’t touch a dime. Dot had 174 more days to figure out how to claim the money before it reverted back to the state. She smiled. Hopefully it wouldn’t involve murder.

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