The measure of wealth
Joy was a girl who personified the meaning of her name. She was a wave of optimism walking into the room. Her eyes sparkled when she smiled and her good mood easily transmitted to those around her. She loved to please people, to entertain and have a good time. But most of all she loved the preparation for it: the elegant clothes, the glistening jewels, the chic hair-dos. They all belonged to the process of feeling good and showing it. Yet, these were all things that required money. Joy didn’t have a problem with that, so she didn’t really take into account how much she was actually spending each month on these “little luxuries”. She had the ability to do so.
Until she didn’t.
It was one day at the end of winter that was resisting the imminent arrival of Spring. The company manager called all the employees into the glass conference room and announced solemnly that the end had come. The company could no longer cope financially in the increasingly competitive market. So it was letting everyone go and was dissolving overnight.
People didn’t immediately realise all the consequences this involved. It was not just the fact that they would become another statistic in the rising unemployment rates. It was not that they would have to face an uncertain period of idleness. It was the fact that without an income, they would all have to start counting their pennies. Literally.
When that thought struck Joy’s mind, that is when the clouds set in.
Because, now, when her friends invited her out and expected her to show up glowing and glittering under the stars, sipping cocktails on roof gardens, and dancing in extravagantly decorated ballrooms, Joy had to maintain appearances. She had to continue living up to her name, despite the fact that her sparkle had faded. She was no longer carefree, because she witnessed day by day her bank account shrinking. And until she found another source of income, she had to restrict her outings. She was confused, though. She couldn’t stay in and do nothing, see no-one, out of financial fears. How did everyone else do it? All those others who earned so much less than she did?
One night, when the full moon lit dimly over the city’s so-called “high society” or wannabe-elites, Joy stood in a corner of the room and paused. She looked around, observing the crowd that had become part of her usual outings. Their clothes, their shoes, their hairstyles, their hand gestures, their body postures, the intonation of their voices, their fake smiles. She wondered when she had allowed herself to become so superficial, thinking that because of the money she so carelessly threw around, she would “fit-in” and become likeable. She had become so drawn-in to this lifestyle that she had forgotten the true meaning of her own name.
She ran out, saying goodbye to no-one.
She rushed home and called him. Him, who was always there for her through everything, but whom she so often failed to acknowledge.
“Let’s go get lost,” she said to the other end of the line. Her voice was trembling with excitement on the verge of shrieking. “Let’s just go there, to our island, to our room-to-rent by the beach and retreat away from it all. There on our balcony gazing at the sea, with the breeze blowing gently and the waves crashing on the rocks. You can work online, and I’ll write a book. On how the real measure of our wealth in life, is how much we would be worth if we’d lost all our money and were left with only the things that can’t be bought. I get it now…”
Also part of Daily Prompt: Countless