The following story is an entry to a competition found here.
"Great party, Jack!"
"Thanks, I know!" I winked back at her.
Everyone was congratulating me that day. I bought Gryfex in the morning, a company dealing with quantum computers that set me back 1.3 billion dollars. Under my leadership, I estimated it would take about two to three years before every dollar it made was pure profit.
Having made the deal of the century I had to throw a party at my house. The people in business circles were so stingy they would have shown up for free liquor alone. Being overly nice to me, trying to squeeze out a raise was just an added bonus.
A bunch of brown nosers, no doubt.
I worked from one of my mansions but I spent most of my days inbetween the four walls of my office. I even employed a maid to bring me coffee and lunch whenever I wanted.
I managed to employ the "two hours a day sleep cycle" which in turn allowed me to work between 18 and 20 hours every day. But truth be told, no matter what I was doing, I spent 24 hours a day thinking about money.
In what little free time I had, I usually went for a date with my wife Gabrielle, played some golf with my friends or spent that time despising my competition.
I had it all.
Billions and billions of dollars and a beautiful wife who loved me.
But I wasn't happy.
Soon after I made my first billion, I realised even the most profitable of deals didn't quite give me that feeling of satisfaction anymore.
No matter how much money I had won, all I wanted was more. And when I got more, I wanted more still.
I didn't care how many people I trampled along the way or how many companies I put out of business.
All I cared for was the bank account balance.
It was always in the green.
But everything else was in the red.
I didn't sleep enough, I got fat, I hardly spent any time with my wife, my overall health was bad, you name it. So eventually I had to face the inevitable.
My body had finally crashed.
I passed out in the office and woke up in a hospital bed.
The one thing about modern technology that was as amazing as it was horrid, was it's omnipresence. Even lying in the hospital bed I couldn't get off the computer. And when the nurse took it, I just used the phone instead.
Eventually they impregnated a special rule for my room only and put a sign on my door.
»No tech allowed.«
Not like anyone paid me a visit.
Not even my wife.
Then it hit me.
All that I believed I had was just an illusion.
My friends weren't really my friends and my wife wasn't really my wife.
Waching numbers on a computer screen had taken everything from me.
After a fortnight of solitude I had learned the hospital had no idea of who I was. When they found out I was amongst the richest men in the country, they made the nurse apologize for what she had done and hand me back my computer and my phone.
But in the two weeks of being offline I had more human contact than I previously had in months. I got more attention than I got before.
I refused to use the computer and the phone. If anyone would've missed me enough, they would have paid me a visit. Besides, I enjoyed talking to the nurse who I've even asked to spend some extra time with me. Unlike the rest of the people I had met in the past, her attitude didn't change when she learned I was wealthy. She treated me with respect without ever expecting a reward of any kind.
I asked her if there was anything I could get her. A house, a car, ... Anything, really.
"Thank you very much, Jack, but I've got everything I need."
She was the complete opposite of me.
She spent most of her time with the people or wandering outside. She was a volunteer, she enjoyed hiking, cycling, ... Just an all around happy, positive person that drew a smile on your face with just her presence. I, on the other hand didn't have a life outside my office, and she made me realise how much life I was missing.
"Then how about dinner when I get well?"
Her cheeks turned bright red and she accepted my offer.
I decided to join her as a volunteer at a local charity event before dinner, and for the first time in my life I wasn't on the receiving end. I was giving out free food to whoever came up to the stand and I was absolutely loving it!
Putting smiles on people's faces was something completely different than making them frown.
And the more they smiled, the more I smiled.
And the more I smiled, the more they did.
It was an endless cycle.
And while we were eating and talking, I couldn't help but realise yet again that happiness doesn't lie in material wealth. I had thrown parties worth hundreds of thousands of dollars only to have more fun eating free overcooked sausage.
It was amazing how little it took to make someone's day.
I told Ruth my plans over dinner. I told her what I had learned that day and in the past month and what changes I was going to implement into my company.
Higher wages, paid vacation, a break room in every floor, organised social events, ... All the little things that turn modern age slaves back into working men.
I thanked her for the life lesson she had given me and offered her to run the company by my side.
She politely declined and reminded me her place was not in the office but amongst the people.
I had divorced Gabrielle, gotten rid of my so called friends and moved into a smaller house. My company was still growing and making profit. The workers were happier, the complaint letters stopped and best of all; I was happy.
I wasn't spending endless hours in the office anymore, I slept 6 to 8 hours a night, I got married again, I found out I enjoyed hiking and most of all I made sure to spend enough time with my newborn son Nick.
I still attend the local charity event every month. I still enjoy it as much as the first time, and I get to spend some time with Ruth.
I can never thank her enough for what she had given me.
Nor does she expect me to.
I turn your ideas into stories, so please leave them in the comments.
- #1 - Living off the grid
- #2 - A dolphin tea party
- #3 - A young thief
- #4 - An unlucky chain of events
- #5 - The power of positivity
- #6 - A blind date
- #7 - The gian depressed onion
- #8 - A traitor from hell
- #9 - Not alone
- #10 - Military testing grounds