He drives 95 down the highway as the best high he has ever felt rushes through his body. The feeling rises from his toes in his dirty, worn out shoes, through his gut, to his racing heart, to his greasy head. “I’m gonna clean myself up!” he yells to no one in the passenger seat. “I’m gonna make something of myself, man!” he continues to yell to them through a lump in his throat. He reaches to the passenger side and runs his fingers over the red leather seating of his brand new fucking Mustang. He takes his eyes off the empty highway and looks behind him at his one duffel bag full of everything he owns in the backseat.

He smiles a grin that reaches his eyes as he stares at his reflection in the shiny door of his brand new house. He likes how his new shirt slims his shoulders. He puts the key in the lock and twists. He walks through the door and he can already see the ocean view through the floor to ceiling windows on the far living room wall. He laughs deep and heavy. “Ain’t no damn way this is all mine,” he says to nobody again. He lets go of the handle of his big new suitcase and pushes it to the side with his foot. It rolls on the shiny hardwood floor so clean he could lick it. He runs up the spiral staircase with a childlike pep.

They say don’t tell anybody when you win the lottery, but he wanted everybody to know. There ain’t no way, he thought, that he was gonna be this successful and keep it a secret. He called people up he hadn’t talked to in years just to let them know what a new man he was. His two ex wives, old buddies from high school, his family. “I don’t ever wanna see that town again, sis,” he said into the phone. “I ain’t even coming to visit. You’re gonna have to come here.”

Each night he reckoned he’d get happier and happier, with each new possession bought and each new day finally living. He bought a brand new game system he thought he’d never in his life see in person, but here it was in his hands. He spread out on the couch, put his feet on the coffee table, grabbed the controller, and hit play. He pressed the right button, navigating through characters to play as. He went with a woman with long blonde hair in a tight military suit. “That’s funny,” he said out loud, in case somebody was watching, letting them know it’s a joke. He liked being able to make decisions in it that would affect the outcome of the game. He played the game for two hours. His character now stood dressed in armor with a weapon in her hand, interacting with a tall dark male soldier. He looked at his options. “Press A to kiss.” “Press B to fight.” He ran his calloused fingers over the buttons. He pressed A. He watched as the animated characters embraced. He pressed A again. And again. And again. He stood up and walked to the console, pressing the off button and powering down the system. He set down the remote and slowly walked up the staircase, the house so quiet the sound of his heavy footsteps on the stairwell echoed. He took off his clothes, and he got into his big king size bed. He laid there, alone, naked, in a naked house, with a naked heart, desiring something deep within him that this life couldn’t fill.


About the Author

Madisyn Fleming is an Eastern Kentucky native currently residing in Winston Salem, North Carolina. She attends Appalachian State University. This is her first published story. 


Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash