$1000 To Lose by Shome Dasgupta

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I become sad whenever I watch Wheel Of Fortune. Just the other day it happened again–I was watching an episode at the hotel and two of the contestants were winning a good bit of money but the third person, Lena–I believe was her name–just couldn’t accrue any cash. She was kind. A mother of two, her husband was a veteran and she herself was a hair stylist. Curly brown hair, most likely dyed, with little cosmetics, dressed in a bright flowery blouse. She never rushed to spin the wheel and she didn’t interrupt Pat Sajak, always patient and waiting her turn, almost like she counted to three before reaching over and grabbing a spoke–almost like she had a life full of many challenges and didn’t take any experiences for granted.

I hope the kids are doing okay at home. This is the first time I’ve left them since they were born. I’m glad to have a good friend in Bay to watch them. I’ll need to get her a gift as a thank you for taking them in for these few days.

When she was able to spin the wheel, she would get a letter every now and then but then she would lose it all after landing on bankrupt. Or she would lose a turn, and the person after her would spin just once before solving the puzzle. Lena would genuinely smile and clap as the others won. I had never seen someone so happy about losing to others, especially when it came to money. I can’t remember too much about the other two contestants other than that I didn’t like them. One was a man and the other was a woman and they just came off as mean, pushy, and their personalities matched their physical looks. There are always the other two.

I hope they don’t tear their school clothes or dirty them too much. I’m a bit low on money this month but hopefully it’ll change. It’s important to remain positive, got to. For my kids’ sake–I can’t show them any other way. I wish mom was still alive.

And at the end, when it was all over, she shook everyone’s hand and gave Pat a hug after not winning anything. She had this gleam in her eye like she just saw the most amazing magic trick. And it wasn’t just that episode–it’s like there’s always one person in every Wheel Of Fortune who was like Lena. Just happy and sweet no matter what. I wish. They did give Lena $1000 but that probably went to all of the travel and hotel costs as she came all the way from Maine.

$1000. I can do wonders with that right now–more than anything else, I just want to take my kids out for a nice dinner and maybe even a movie after. It would be nice to lose.

I hope Lena is doing okay. I hope they are all doing okay, the ones who never win but are always smiling sunbeams. I need to send the sanitation workers a thank you note, it’s been a while since I’ve thanked them. I hope the kids are having fun.

Oh is he talking to me? Focus. Yes, he’s talking to me. Here we go.

Yes, Pat–I’m ready–thank you! Yes, Pat, sorry, I was in a daze–this is all so amazing!

1-2-3.

It’s quite a stretch to reach over and grab the wheel–I have to suck in my stomach a bit. Here we go. When it stops, I’ll go with L.

I hope the kids are doing okay.

 

Shome Dasgupta is the author of i am here And You Are Gone (Winner Of The 2010 OW Press Fiction Chapbook Contest), The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India), Anklet And Other Stories (Golden Antelope Press), Pretend I Am Someone You Like (Livingston Press), and Mute (Tolsun Books). He lives in Lafayette, LA and can be found at www.shomedome.com and @laughingyeti.

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