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The Proposal ~ The Final Chapter

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

Help: Image by Jackson David from Pixabay (Text added via PicFont)

Help: Image by Jackson David from Pixabay (Text added via PicFont)

Every Story Needs an End

Here is the third and final part of my short fiction story inspired by a Reedsy short story prompt. A new prompt is provided every week, but this story took me more than a week to write so I had no chance of submitting it by the deadline.

The subject was 'Money, money, money,' and there were a number of prompts from which to choose. The one I chose to use as inspiration for my story was the following:

  • Your character checks their balance at an ATM and is surprised by the number they see.

Part Two of The Proposal ended with this paragraph:

He’d put his thinking cap on. There were a few people and non-profit organizations that he knew could use a hand. But which one was the most desperate? Maybe he’d also ask his wife if she knew of anyone in a needy or dire situation at the moment. That said, Michael thought it safest to be as vague as possible about the whole situation. After all, A. B. Associates had not forwarded Cynthia a copy of the email.

Checklist: Image by Steven Weirather from Pixabay

Checklist: Image by Steven Weirather from Pixabay

The Proposal ~ The Final Chapter (a Short Fiction Story)

Michael had been carefully weighing up the needs of anyone he knew that may be in need of financial assistance. In fact, he couldn’t concentrate on much else at the moment. He had trouble deciding who was more desperate for help than another., and besides, he needed to relieve himself of this pressing responsibility thrust on him.

It was worrying that if he didn’t nominate someone before the deadline he would be asked to pay back all the money he himself had received. He hadn’t wasted any time using it in the way he’d been instructed - an electric wheelchair for his wife, and to pay off their credit card debt. It had certainly helped get things back on track and made life easier, but there was no way he could afford to pay it back.

Michael had been compiling a list of possible recipients. He was about to put all the names in a hat and draw out the lucky nominee when Cynthia drew his attention to a local news update. “Come watch this Michael,” she coaxed, “Some poor family have just lost everything in a house fire overnight and in our very own suburb!”

Michael sat on the sofa next to his wife and watched the news. The young family of two adults and two young children (one a baby) were shown standing and staring in shock at the front of what once was their home.

House Fire: Image by Николай Егошин from Pixabay

House Fire: Image by Николай Егошин from Pixabay

The parents choked back tears as they told the reporter they were not insured and had lost virtually everything except the clothes they had been sleeping in. They just thanked God they had all managed to escape the flames. Michael always felt the reporters were heartless to ask people personal or difficult questions when they had just suffered such trauma or devastating loss.

But, perhaps he wasn’t much better. This was just the type of situation Michael had been looking for. Although he felt deeply for the family’s terrible situation, he was also relieved that it may have provided him with an answer to his own dilemma. .

The TV station said an appeal was being started to provide clothes, essentials, and temporary accommodation for the traumatized family. This allowed Michael to easily obtain the names and details of those involved. He wasted no time in emailing his nomination to A. B. Associates.

He felt guilty that perhaps he was doing this for the wrong reasons. Was he only nominating these people so that he wouldn’t lose what he’d already received? Would he have done anything to help this family in any other circumstances? He likes to think so, especially if he had the means like A.B. Associates obviously do.

Homeless man: Image by Vardan Sevan from Pixabay

Homeless man: Image by Vardan Sevan from Pixabay

Anyway, why dwell on these hypotheticals? At the end of the day, he was doing the right thing. He was arranging to have help directed to someone who needed it. Did it really matter why or how? Should he tell Cynthia bout the whole situation? His wife’s level-headedness often helped ease his mind. He considered this, but once again decided against it… for now anyway.

Point 3 of the email was still fresh in his mind, “All correspondence regarding this matter is to remain confidential and all parties concerned must remain anonymous, including yourself to whoever you nominate.” Maybe one day in the future he could reveal all.

Michael did wonder how long this ‘pay it forward' scheme would continue, but he realized he would never know. Probably until these Anonymous Benefactors ran out of funds, or got bored with the whole thing. He hoped that would not be for a long time, and he felt good he had played his small part in continuing it. Even if no one knew.

Make This World Better: Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Make This World Better: Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Author's Note

Although this is a piece of fiction and the storyline is probably a very unlikely scenario, I hope there is a message that readers can take from the story. It is easy to always think of ourselves and our family first, and leave others to deal with their own situations, difficulties, and traumas.

I do think we need to take time to consider what others are going through, however, and sometimes the smallest gesture or act of kindness can have a huge effect. In the example given in this story it has been referred to as 'paying it forward,' but it can also be called 'the butterfly effect.'

Everything we do affects others in some way, so it is always better to be kind and generous than cruel or dismissive. Thank you for reading my story. I hope you found it enjoyable.

© 2022 John Hansen

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