The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 2

I was bored.

So bored, I seriously wondered if I could die from it. Think about it: every day I got out of school at two in the afternoon, and, from there, I had nothing to do at all. I would have to drive twenty miles to go to a shopping mall, movie theater, or wherever else any traces of civilization existed. And get this: I didn’t have a car to get to any of those places, anyway!

My parents shared one car. Since my dad was a trucker, and didn’t need a car to drive to work every day, like most of the other dads, my parents figured it was far more economical to share. Mom would drop Dad off at the truck terminal, which was only five blocks away, and then he’d be gone for days. Nothing gave them more satisfaction than knowing they only needed to pay insurance for one car, and not two.

In any case, they never allowed me to drive their only, precious family sedan. For them, it was no different than letting me drive it as a five-year-old—they didn’t trust my driving skills at all.

I obtained my driver’s license as soon as I turned sixteen, as excited as I’d just won a beauty pageant. I kept thinking the world would change—would somehow turn upside-down. Looking back, did I think that, for some magical reason, a car would fall from the sky, right in front of my eyes, as soon as I got my license? Or, did I think that my parents would miraculously change their minds and let me drive their car, even after they’d said no a million times? I wasn’t sure.

When the world didn’t change one single bit after receiving my driver’s license, I was so disappointed that I thought I could devour three large pizzas, washed down with a full bowl of sangria.

Oh. Talking about sangria. Being a teenager in a small town, the most popular way to fight boredom was by drinking and partying. No wonder people in small towns married and had kids by age twenty-something, right? Drink and mate—that was all there was to do!

I often hung out with my besties—Sophia and Zoe. The three of us were always together, both at school and after school. Let me brag a bit: we were all very pretty, too. Anybody observing us walking together, in our cute T-shirts and short skirts, and our long hair swaying in the wind, would have to admit that we stood out. Boys would stare at us, looking like they would offer to do anything—even clean the dirtiest public bathroom with pleasure—for a chance to date us. But honestly? We believed no one was good enough for any of us. We would even get offended if dorky boys attempted to talk to us. What can I say? We were snobs!

Sophia was the most popular among the boys, and definitely the prettiest. She had long, beautiful, blonde hair, eyes the color of clear blue water from the Caribbean, long, shapely legs, and she was always dressed irresistibly cute. Unlike me, she owned a huge wardrobe selection to choose from every day, and had the mannerisms of a rich girl. Still, she could be very sweet—when she wanted to.

After school, we usually hung out at Sophia’s house and, occasionally, at Zoe’s. But never at mine. Why? Because I didn’t have a room with a door!

Sophia’s room was decorated like some pink princess’s castle. Although she wasn’t exceptionally rich, according to national standards, her parents owned a grocery store and earned a decently good living. It had recently been renovated, and was inherited from several generations of her family, having been originally founded by her great grandparents, about ninety years ago.

The good thing about owning a store in a small town was that everybody had to go there, with no other choice. The store paid for her house, which her parents had built from scratch. It was a very nice house with five bedrooms; as Sophia was an only child, she used two bedrooms as her own—one to sleep in, and another as entertainment space for her friends.

Compared to her, I was living in abject poverty.

But, even Sophia couldn’t afford the five-thousand-dollar surgery required for her cat, Furball. I supposed her parents could have given her the money, but Furball was one of four cats Sophia owned, and they probably figured it wasn’t economically sensible to pay five-thousand dollars each time one of them needed surgery. Besides, Furball was sixteen years old, which was like eighty, in human years. Sophia was pretty upset about it all—Furball was her special, furry friend, and they’d been together since Sophia was born.

We often sat around and watched TV, sipping sangria or fruit punch (spiked, of course). One of our favorite shows was Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I wanted to be like Kim Kardashian so bad. And so did Sophia and Zoe. Kim had everything; she could do anything she wanted. She could go on shopping sprees every single day, and never go bankrupt. Me? I’d have to rob a bank before I could even dream of going on a shopping spree. I often wondered why it was that Kim had been born into that family, and I had been born into this one. I surmised that life just wasn’t fair at all.

The three of us talked about everything. We made a pact, as kids, never to keep any secrets from each other, and we’d all fulfilled that promise.

Zoe’s latest topic was her upcoming boob job, which she was planning to schedule an appointment for very soon. Well, when the funds were in place, of course. She was very open with her parents, and wondered if she should just ask them flat-out for the money. I wanted one, too, but it was simply impossible for me. One: I didn’t have the money, and nor did my parents, and two: my parents would have killed me, had I even remotely implied ever wanting such a thing as that. I wished my parents were more like Zoe’s—open and understanding—instead of ultra-conservative and uptight.

There were so many things in my life I wished were different, that it wasn’t even funny.

So, yes: I was a typical teenager. Maybe I was going through a rebellious time back then. Although, it wouldn’t have really been right to call it rebellious, because my parents and I never really fought. I complained a whole a lot, but Mom was always so calm, no matter what I said, that she simply killed off all of my arguments. And Dad simply wasn’t around long enough for us to fight.

Both my parents were hard workers, but they didn’t make much money at all, and our household could barely make ends meet. I hated it. I hated it so much, I would compare myself to Kim, and curse my ill fate. I was living in a doorless den, in a two-bedroom shack in North Dakota, while Kim lived in a twenty-million-dollar house in beautiful Southern California. How unfair was that?

Why couldn’t I have been born under a lucky star?

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