Story:A Sliver of Hope
A Sliver of Hope
Written by Shataivian
No information. Right back where we started. Nothing added up. This was ridiculous. How hard could it be for a mouse to find a simple name? Just a name! No ID’s. No court dates. No legal actions. No hoops. Just a goddamn name! Why did it matter so damn much for Lisa to be in the dark? At this point, how could Lisa being in the dark benefit the ones keeping her there? She knew something was up. It’s not like she could continue living in ignorance. She knew she was being lied to. Why not just give up the ghost and let this stupid charade end already? But that’s how things were, with Lisa no closer to any kind of truth. Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. Forever stuck under the thumbs of others. But like a twisted fairy godmother, Valencia heard her queue.
Lisa was in Queens again for her game against the Pride, and this time she was determined to ignore her father if he was in the audience. It was too much. All Lisa needed to focus on was the game. As her team arrived and started entering the arena, Lisa caught a glimpse of Valencia out in the crowd using her finger to summon Lisa over to her. She excused herself from the rest of the team and gestured for Valencia to join her in the hall, away from the crowd.
“Darling, how are you?” Valencia greeted, cheek-kissing both of Lisa’s cheeks. Lisa sighed. “Ooh. That bad? Tell me, love, what’s bothering you.” Lisa didn’t answer. She only looked down at Valencia through narrowed eyelids. Valencia laughed. “Davey tells me he likes that you and I are so close.”
“Did he?” Lisa chuckled. “Has he been acting pushy?” Valencia gave Lisa a pleased smirk.
“So, you’re the reason for all the trouble. I must say, well played trying to pit us against one another. I would have done the same.”
“So, what do you want?” Lisa asked knowing that Valencia only showed up whenever it benefited her.
“I wanted to know how you were doing. Any closer to finding your real parents?” Valencia teased. This was a joke. She knew Lisa wouldn’t find anything. The only reason she was there now was to remind her what it would cost to get some information.
“You know I don’t have $50 million,” Lisa said, jumping to the point.
“It must be so frustrating,” Valencia cooed. She stroked the hair out of Lisa’s face to try and console her, causing Lisa to swat her hand away.
“I have a game to get ready for. Goodbye, Val.”
“I feel for your financial woes,” Valencia called as Lisa began to walk away. “Truly, I do. That’s why…” She paused. Lisa did as well. She turned around to face Valencia and watched as she went through her purse. She pulled out a small sliver of paper and held it at one end, letting it flop about.
“What is that?” Lisa softly asked.
“This, my dear, is your birth certificate.” Instinctually, Lisa took a single step towards Valencia and stopped herself. “Well, not in it’s entirety, of course. But it does contain a certain name.” Lisa was taking slow steps closer to Valencia as she waved the strip of paper in the air.
“Give. Me. That. Paper.” When Lisa was just out of arms reach, Valencia turned her shoulders away and revealed a lighter. She lit it and held it under the strip of paper.
“Uh, uh, uh. Not so hasty, love. We still have business to conduct.” Lisa froze, fixed on the flame just under the biggest piece of information to surface.
“What do you want?” Lisa let her shoulders fall, knowing that one mistake could ruin everything for her. She was deep in Valencia’s web now. “I can’t pay you $50 million.”
“What about five?” Lisa’s breath got caught in her throat. “I understand finances are tight, so I offer you a small piece of what I promise for an equally small fee. It's the least I could do after seeing you suffer like this.” Lisa thought for a moment. She’s asking $5 Million for a sliver of her birth certificate that she claimed contained a name. All Lisa needed was a name. This could be it. She wouldn’t have to pay $50 million, and she’d get everything she needed from this single name.
“How do I know you’re not lying to me?”
“Lisa! You wound me! Darling, I’m trying to conduct business with you. I’m offering this in the hopes to wet your appetite. How can I get you to come back and pay the remaining $45 million if I lose your trust now? You have my word. Everything you purchase from me will be 100% accurate and relevant to you.” She had a point. There would be no point in continuing to give her money if Lisa didn’t trust she’d be getting anything out of it. And Valencia didn’t seem like the woman to only take $5 million and run. “Trust me,” Valencia continued. “This won’t be the last you see of me. Not by a long shot.”
$5 million. $5 million. All she wanted was $5 million. Could Lisa afford that? Barely. There wasn’t much of her income left to spare, and if she did give this money to Valencia, that would be it. Lisa would be broke. Not enough to cause her too much trouble, but that would essentially be all her money. It would be a step forward. More than that, it would be a step beyond anything she could do on her own. Would it be enough, though? What choice did she have?
“$5 million?” Lisa asked.
“Excellent,” Valencia shouted. “Now, of course, you do understand I would need the money first?” Valencia pulled her phone from out of her purse. “Everything’s done on an app these days,” she laughed. As she tapped at her phone Lisa paced back and forth. Was this the right thing to do? Yes. Yes, it had to be. As Valencia showed Lisa the app and gave her instructions, Lisa contemplated what having this strip of paper would mean. Would the name match the one her father had given her? Probably not, right? This was the right choice. It had to be. It just had to be.
They sat silently in that hall, waiting for the transaction to go through. Lisa received calls from her bank, and confirmation emails due to the large amount. It was only a matter of time. And then…
“Ah! And there it is,” Valencia cheered. Lisa rushed over to Valencia, waiting to receive what she had paid for. “As promised.” Valencia bowed, holding the strip of paper out for Lisa to take. She snatched it and held it tight in her hands. She was shaking. “Go on. Read it.” Lisa wanted to, but her hands would not stop shaking. “Don’t you want to see what it says?” Didn’t she? Of course, she did. So, open it. You paid $5 million for this. Open it and get your answers. Valencia gave Lisa a warm smile and walked over to her. She stood behind her, putting each hand on Lisa’s. “Here. I’ll help you.” Lisa wanted to fight her. She wanted to stop her from unfolding the piece of paper in front of her, revealing the truth. But as Valencia pulled at Lisa’s wrists, the paper unfolded. And a name was revealed.
About a half hour later, Lisa was on the court, playing against the Queens Pride. But her hands were still shaking. Eleven attempts to get the ball through the net, and only four made it in. Three personal fouls, two turnovers, not a single steal, and only four assists. The Spirits won that day, but it was Lisa’s worse performance of the season. All she could think about was the name on that strip of paper. It was a name. An actual name. Finally, something to work with. The transaction between the mice would stay a secret, especially from David. Lisa finally had an upper hand. Now we’re getting somewhere, and ‘Eliza Mae duPont’ held the answers.
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