January 4th, 2004
She opened her mailbox and found the latest letter from Sweepstakes forAmerica, promising that she really, really, really, really had made it to the final rounds for the Grand Prize of fifteen million dollars. The raised, bold print on the envelope impressed her with a promise that she could feel under the pads of her fingers as she carried the mail upstairs to her three-room apartment. The calligraphy marked this letter as different from the light bill, the Victoria’s Secret bill, the advertisement for the nearby body shop’s oil change and lube for only $59.95, extra for some import models. She opened her door and went inside, shivering, the apartment nearly as cold as the weather outside. She dropped the mail on her couch and ran to the thermostat. The temperature was set at seventy degrees, yet she could see her exhalations. She stood on her tiptoes and stretched her hand up to the vent, hoping to feel warm air. She felt nothing.
She turned back to the couch, eyeing the pile of mail. She could see perhaps two inches of the light bill, peeking from under the Sweepstakes letter. She stared at it for perhaps a full minute before walking over to the couch and sitting down beside the mail, her weight causing the pile to shift. The envelopes slid toward her. She felt the Sweepstakes letter poke her thigh. The light bill was now fully visible, the envelope plain white, the postmark nondescript, the print on the envelope plain and unimportant.