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by Joel Emmanuel 9 months ago in success

Ideas on the Hilltop

My head was resting forward against my clasped hands when the woman released the gold latches off her black leather briefcase. I pressed my lips into a subtle kiss for the prayers I held within my palms when she lifted one side open, turning it slowly to reveal to me a lump sum of tightly bound one-hundred-dollar bills that were kept inside. I could smell the fresh print of them; they were crisp and green as the grassy hillsides of Dolores Park. It was the one place in San Francisco where I would often dream…watching my ideas fly past me, wishing I’d somehow come across such a windfall like this—and there it was, all right in front of me…

“Twenty thousand dollars,” she said.

“Are you sure you want to give me this?”

“It’s the least I could do.”

“The least? But I didn’t really do anything.”

“You may not think so… but you returned my most prized possession. You did do something. Now, will you accept this reward?”

The sweat in my palms broke my hands apart, where I then tried to keep my trembling knees from banging up against the coffee shop table where we both sat. All I did was find a small black notebook and returned it to her, I thought. Why does this lady want to give me so much money for such a simple act of service? Is simple kindness worth twenty thousand dollars these days? After all, it was just a book…

But before I answered her, all I could do was look at the book that was now across from me and in her possession. I somehow found myself locked in a daze over its cover…it was sleek and seemed well preserved—timeless. I couldn’t tell if it was brand new or centuries-old…and now I regret not looking more closely at the contents inside—what’s in there that was so important to her? Dang, it! Now all I could do was tightly close my eyes, as I could hardly believe the reality of this lucky situation.

“I just need a second to take this all in,” I said to her.

In my silence, I instantly recalled the moment I found the book. At the forefront of my mind, I was sitting on top of the hillside of Dolores Park and in the fresh-cut greenery was a fluttering movement that caught my attention. It was the pages of the book blowing in the wind, as if a phantom of the elements was reading through it, snooping in a way I wish I should have done to better understand how its contents were apparently worth so much money. However, all I could remember was being memorized by the speed-demon that was the wind, fighting with the book’s spine, trying to release its pages to the city all around. But as I stared, the phantom didn’t seem to have a chance at taking anything from it. I had then looked around to see if there was anyone nearby that could have dropped it, but most people were too far and unbothered, as they were all contently situated on picnic blankets, or keeping up with their roaming dogs. Nothing seemed to indicate that anyone had just lost a book.

And the next thing I knew, I had it in my hands. I had kept the flipping pages under control once I had bound it together by an elastic band that was attached to the outer cover—stylish and practical, I thought. But before I had got it closed, that was when I caught a name and a phone number on the inside. By some instinct, I called immediately, and thereafter, I found myself in a twenty-thousand-dollar moment.

“Why…twenty thousand?” I asked her.

I couldn’t believe the number that was coming out of my mouth. This has got to be a joke. I know this is—why else would my hands be sweating the way they are? I thought on.

“Because this book holds my ideas—” she said, “ideas that are valuable to me, and I think to many other people…”

With that response, this woman must have been some type of tech giant. I mean—why didn’t I see this from the get-go. She’s in a tailored pantsuit with her hair in a tight-looking bun. She must be working for somebody important to even be giving out such a reward. The small black book must have the codes to the next big social media app or something.

“I can tell by your face that you don’t believe my offer, do you?”

“Not at all…”

“Well let me just tell you this…returning this book to me just saved my career. So please, take this,” she said with a soft smile, closing the lid of the briefcase shut and snapping the latches down into place.

“What am I supposed to do with all this money?”

“Invest in your ideas, kid,” she said, sliding the briefcase across the table, “It worked for me.”

She pulled out a pair of stylish sunglasses, just as the hit song of the summer had blasted on through every speaker around us. Everyone in the coffee shop broke into smiles and bobbed their heads with pure joy as they sipped on their drinks, and just as they did, there was a glow that seemed to come over the woman. And that’s when my eyes went wide and the fever on my hands had broken off completely.

“Hey, I know—I know who you are!”

Everything then clicked immediately. I recognized her name, her face—her voice. She was the singer playing on the speakers, a singer who was a real rising star. I quickly stood up at the realization, but stopped myself from blurting out her identity. And just like her book, I kept her a secret. With the briefcase now hugged in my arms, I could only then assume that her small black book held all of her creative genius. It had to have been a book of all her own lyrics yet to be released out to the public. And before she left, she hugged her book and leaned in towards me.

“Thank you,” she whispered, smiling to me once more before concealing her eyes completely with her tinted lenses.

I stayed a little while longer, relishing in her song to its very end. And then I left myself…now twenty-thousand dollars richer. When I had walked out the door, I made sure to tell myself that my first investment was going to be towards my ideas.

And eventually, there I was again, on the hillside of Dolores Park with a small black book of my own, and a nice pair of sunglasses like hers. As I continued dreaming, I also began to write, and even draw. I often thought how I had never experienced such luck like that before. And as I laid my ideas into my book, turning the pages as fast as the airy phantoms on the hilltop, I realized the power of ideas against the wind; to let them fly off without fear, is to trust that it could all return back into your lap—and perhaps, if you’re lucky enough, in a total windfall.


Joel Emmanuel

I'm just a California boy who's trying to turn his soul golden.

Instagram: @joelemmanuel_

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