Wednesday, September 18, 2019

#261 / Good Fortune

The Chinese character for "good fortune"

One Story recently mailed me a brief, seventeen-page story called "Good Fortune." The story takes place in a hotel, located sixty miles north of Miami. The patrons of this hotel - or many of them - are engaged in what is called "birth tourism." 

In the story, three notes were slipped, at different times, under the doors of three different persons. Consequences ensued. Here is what the first note said: 

You Will Be Found Out

Who wrote that first note, and who wrote the other two, and what did they mean? Of course, these are the questions that drive the story. The ending of the story reveals who wrote the first note. You'll have to read the whole story to find out about the other two. Here is the secret of the first note:

I am not sure I even want to tell you, it's so absurd, such a meaningless coincidence with which to begin or end a tale. But the truth about the first notes is this: a thirteen-year-old girl - the oldest daughter of an older woman on a second marriage and pregnant with twins - wrote it. She'd copied the idea out of a book she read. A prank, but an angry one, a protest. She was being sent to a boarding school, and this was her bitter goodbye. What was the point of more babies? Why, she wondered, did they feel the need to replace her?
The note wasn't wrong. Children do find us out. Sooner or later they realize we are so much weaker, more flawed, and more scared than they ever imagined, even when they were imagining the worst. And they find out because they, too, become weak and flawed and scared, at least the lucky ones do. I suppose it's the best we can hope for. Even weak and flawed and scared, sometimes we do all right. 
The girl intended to put a note under every hotel door, but she almost got caught on the very first one. The girl threw the rest of the notes into the hotel dumpster. Some of them are still there, plastered to the bottom. The rest have made it to the landfill. Except for the one that escaped on the wind. Maybe you've seen it?

It is good fortune, indeed, when we find ourselves out. It is good fortune, too, when others discover us and find out who we really are. When we are discovered, by ourselves and others, we learn that "even weak and flawed and scared ... we do all right." 

I like the idea of that note flying around out there: "You will be found out." 

Maybe You've Seen It?

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