Ravi Mangla

Spurred by some long-held tradition, the origin of which I could no longer remember, I made a point of donating blood at least twice a year. It was during one of these visits, after the nurse had drawn the needle from my arm, that a red banner started flashing on her monitoring device.  

"Congratulations, sir. Your blood is the one billionth pint of blood the Red Cross has collected," the nurse said.

"Oh, wow," I said. The nurses and volunteers and donors all stood up and started clapping.

"With the amount of blood collected the Red Cross could fill the entire Mediterranean Sea," she said.

"Is that true?" I asked.

"It might be," she said.

"I don't want to sound expectant, but do I win anything?" I asked.

"Yes, of course you do," she said. "A needle and an IV bag and a monitoring device, like this one here."

"What am I supposed to do with that stuff?" I asked.

She smiled and shrugged. Red balloons hailed down from the rafters and the song "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang began playing from a mysterious source.

I was given two extra cookies for the drive home.

I opened a lemonade stand in front of my apartment complex. A pint of blood got you a cup of lemonade; two pints and I'd throw in a homemade oatmeal cookie.

I was finishing up with one of my regulars, a sweet, sweet old lady named Mrs. Beckworth.

"What are you going to do with all the blood?" she asked me one day.

I wanted to tell her it was none of her goddamn business.

"I'm going to fill the Mediterranean, until it's a big red dot that you can see from space. Like the one on Jupiter."

"I hear it's beautiful there."

"I haven't heard anything yet. But if I do, you'll be the first to know."

"I'll wait next to my telephone."

"You have a beautiful heart, Mrs. B. I hope it never stops ticking."

"You and I both."

"Have a wonderful rest of the day, Mrs. B. Please come again soon."

She kissed me on the cheek and headed to her car. I placed the bag of blood in a cooler with the other bags of blood and thought about how I'd spend the rest of my day.

Ravi Mangla lives in Fairport, NY. His fiction has appeared recently in the One World anthology, elimae, Storyglossia, Eyeshot and others.

To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200904jupiter.htm

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Kev. Flanagan.

Read RM's "Miracle Cake" from the archive.

w i g · l e a F               04-28-09                                [home]