let my sins go

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
a short story about a woman who created her own successful website, and her interview.

Submitted: October 24, 2016

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Submitted: October 24, 2016

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Let my sins go

A short story

A shooting studio was filled with audience and crewmen. A weekly show called ‘People and their Success’ was about to get started. Everything was ready to go and cameras were pointed at two leather armchairs with a small table between them. Two blond women were seated in those chairs; one, a hostess of the show, on the right, and a guest of the show on the left. A hostess had a short hair, just long enough to touch her shoulders. She was wearing glasses and a very beautiful necklace with a red stone. Elegant clothes were emphasizing her sporty figure even though her over 40-ties age was quite visible on her face. She was reading something on a paper in her hand.

The guest of the show was a younger woman, around mid-20 with long straw-like hair. Her big green eyes were anxiously looking at the audience; she was very nervous as it was for the first time that she was going to appear on television. As to oppose the hostess of the show, the guest had no fashionable clothes, but rather ordinary ones: a light-green sweater to match the eyes and light-blue jeans.

“The show is about to get started!” said a loud voice while two make-up artists were busily painting the blondes. Then a sound of a show’s intro music was heard. After it stopped, one of a crewmembers, holding a camera, did a count-to-three for the show’s host and gave her a ‘go’ sign.

“Good evening and welcome” started the show’s hostess with a loud voice “to ‘People and their Success’ talk-show. I am Lesley Honeymee and today we have a very special guest, a woman who has made her own fortune by creating most extravagant website you have all heard of – Let my sins go dot com. Please welcome all – Ashley Miller! Greetings, Ashley!”

“Hi, Lesley” said the guest with a very low voice “Thanks for having me tonight.”

“What a cute looking thing you are, Ashley.” winked the hostess of the show. “Today we are going to talk about of your famous website. But, since not all of our audience may have heard of it, can you please explain to them, shortly, what is your website about?”

“Well, everybody knows the concept of confession that you do at church. My website uses the same idea, only there are no priests or religions involved. A person, who wishes to express their feelings regarding what they did wrong, or what they think they did wrong, can go to my website and post their story anonymously for other people to read. At the end, a question is presented to other visitors whatever or not to let go of that person’s sins. So, at the end, you can see how many people have decided to let your sins go and how many think that your sins are unforgivable. Thence the name: let my sins go.”

“Wow, a real online confession chamber! It is now one of the most popular websites all around the world! How did you come up with the idea to create such a successful website?”

“Well,” begun Ashley. Every time she started to talk, she would look down, thinking before answering and also calming her voice. “I was just another graduate on the street with my computer science degree and looking for a job. And to find a job that suits you right away – that is never easy…”

“I am sorry to interrupt, Ashley, but just a quick question –why computer science? That is not a usual study that we women chose.”

“Well, I was inspired by Margaret Hamilton. She worked for NASA and wrote a code that has brought humanity to the moon. On Internet, there is also a picture of her with code papers exceeding her own length! Imagine that!”

“Were you a brilliant student?” asked the hostess.

“Let’s say, I really liked to hear the words ‘I didn’t study for this test either, Ashley!’”

The hostess of the show smiled “So, you were looking for a job.”

“Yes. While looking for a job I had a lot of time, and just a few productive activities to fill it with. There is a very good website called 9GAG, which is fun: people post funny or interesting pictures with what text on them and other people view and comment them. And I thought: maybe I can do something like this?

Of course, I always wanted to do something useful for the world and the people. I even considered doing some voluntary work. Like, you know, helping elderly people or looking after sick animals. But after receiving a couple of bites at a nursing home I thought it was not mine particular brand of vodka. So, one time, I was sitting with my friend and she just went on and on about her asshole boyfriend and that she was planning to cheat on him. And that was when the idea struck me. I mean, we all have this little curiosity about other people’s affairs, all those gossips. And that can be the audience, the potential visitors of my website. And we all, also, have the urge to express ourselves, to tell those closest to us what has happened or what is going on or… you name it. Now, those people are also the audience and the potential contributors to my website.

So, I sat down and wrote a website where people can log in and post their story. Completely anonymous, a person would unburden oneself and see what others think of it. What I often see in the comment section is that many users give their advice on what to do next. It is quite inspirational.”

“You have mentioned ‘completely anonymous’. Is that true? I remember there was a scandal, quite recently even, because of authorities demanding information from you regarding one of your… sinners? Can you comment on that?”

“Yes, it was all over the newspapers. The authorities wanted the IP-address of one of my website’s members. They need it to trace him. However, that information is considered private and it was not given to the authorities.”

“Well,” said the hostess of the show “I have his ‘confession’ right here with me. May I read it out loud?”

When Ashley nodded, the hostess started to read “I am a mayor of one of the cities of our country. Being a mayor presents oneself with many possibilities. Sometimes the urge to make use of those possibilities is too great and, therefore, irresistible. Do you think it’s difficult to abduct some public money? Let me tell you: it is not. And I make a good use of it every time.

I have a friend, an old schoolmate of mine, who is a president of some sport union. From time to time he would present to me a request to sponsor some event, activity, or some new sport’s team. And I would grand it. On paper, I give him 20 thousand. And, on paper, he receives those 20 thousand. In reality, that sport’s team would receive only 10k, if not less, while the other part is split between me and my friend. I don’t know how he writes it off, but I can imagine it is something along the same lines I do: unforeseeable expenses, like a car needs repairs but really doesn’t. And believe me; I have many friends like that.

The building industry is a goldmine in a city. As long as humans exist, building activities will never cease: buildings are no mushrooms, they don’t grow themselves.  But who decides which company should be honored to construct THAT particular building at THAT particulate place? I do. There are millions in projects like this and some of those millions end up in my pocket. Some. A small fortune. Small enough to be undetected, but if I do it often enough it becomes so big that my kids and the kids of my kids don’t have to ever work in their life. You would say: hey, there is a tender for those things! Yes, there is. But the amount of trees near a structure in your plan doesn’t align with our government’s policy, so you don’t get to build it, sorry. But I like your plan, John, so you may be able to build it. Let’s discuss it after a month, shall we, while you are preparing other details of the plan?

I know John. Yesterday we were dining together and he has ensured me how I would benefit personally from the building plan of his company. How?

He has a friend. That friend sells my son an old house, for a remarkable price of 10 grand, which my son, lucky that he may be, won yesterday in a casino. After a month, John’s daughter, an architect in her father’s company, decides to buy that house for half a million. She renovates the house, which suddenly has got some historical values, and donates it, in a good name of her family, to Disabled Kids Foundation of our fair city. We are all present at a donation ceremony, where I talk how good it is that our city has received such gift from John’s family, his daughter talks about compassion and all other bullshit; everybody’s happy. John gets a project worth millions, my family gets its fair share and the people of the city see some good being done. Devine.

Needless to say there are many schemes like that in mayor’s life. It is with schemes like that that a mayor fully feels his power. To be fair, that power is what drove me to become a mayor in the first place. People who really want to help their city never go into politics. They just DO things. They help already. What I do… I do nothing. Holding boring meetings, approving some policies and embezzling public money. Even your money, maybe. Why do I do it? Because I can. And I feel most powerful while doing it. Do you think your street needs renovating? On a paper, it was. The cement just broke down again. But I was able to buy some furniture for my new yacht, which is nice!

However, sometimes, I cannot help myself thinking about what I actually do. And that what I do is wrong. Those thoughts, they are like seeds: once planted in my head, they start to sprout, taking more and more space. I look for distraction in drinks, pleasures, family. But can I really find it when this corruption looks me in the eyes everywhere I go? The obvious solution is for me to change. But the system won’t let me. I am just a cogwheel in a very large mechanism. One of many little rotten cogwheels. And I need to keep spinning, otherwise I will be replaced. Maybe it would be a brand new cogwheel, who knows. I don’t believe that. But even if a cogwheel will be new and clean, it won’t take long for it to become rotten in already rotten environment.  Because this corruption is almost never by choice. First step is always out of necessity. But in the meantime…

Would you let my sins go?”

A small murmur of disapproval was heard in the audience while Lesley was reading. “These are some serious crimes, Ashley.” She said to her guest. “Why would you refuse to help our government to track down its corrupt officials?”

“Well, as the priests may say, the secrecy of confession is sacred.” A much louder murmur of disapproval was heard. “Privacy is very important to me and to the team which manages my website. We cannot betray the trust of our visitors. Furthermore, I believe the authorities are able to solve this kind of problem themselves. All they need to do is to take a closer look at their officials. But nobody is going to do that, they need a valid cause…”

“And you can give it.” Interrupted the hostess “I mean, you have been contacted about that IP-address, right? So, somebody was willing to take a closer look.”

“I still cannot violate privacy of our visitors. Authorities need to figure it within their own system, adjust the laws which would allow more control of public officials. But, I am afraid, it would never happen. Because the same type of men make the laws.”

“I am pretty sure we can discuss it all day long, but that is not why we are here.” the hostess continued after thinking a while. "The main goal of this show is to demonstrate that if you work hard, success can be accomplished anytime, anywhere. So, let’s go back on topic. How do you filter which ‘confessions’ are true and which are not? Because the ‘confession’ I just read could easily be a fake one.”

“Yes, it is always a possibility, and there is never a hundred percent guarantee that a ‘confession’ is legitimate. And we don’t have any special mechanism in place to figure it out. My team just reads every ‘confession’ before uploading it to a website, and, if they see something irregular, they delete it. Our minimal text length is one hundred words. Now, why would anyone write a text about something they did not do, just for fun? They would get no reward from it; they even have to wait a few hours before the text is uploaded. I don’t think anyone would do it. Furthermore, they need to create an account before posting any text, and all accounts are IP-based. So, it is difficult to have more than just one account per household.”

“So, if there are two persons in a house, sharing the same internet, only one of them can have an account?”

“That is correct, yes. It is, alas, a necessary measure we are implementing. But a person can always use the IP-address of their mobile internet, the one that is not connected to a household’s Wi-Fi.”

“Alright. And a person with an account can post texts and also vote? As to forgive the sins or not?”

“Yes. However, if we see that there is just way too many ‘confessions’ coming from the same account, we delete them. The focus is on serious sins; if you drive through a red light, well, no one is interested in just that.” Ashley paused a little. “A person can also vote, to show if he chooses to forget a sin. Each person can only vote once per sin.  And every accountholder can place infinite number of comments.” Ashley smiled a little. “And regardless of an account, everyone can go to my website and see the sins and the comments. And the votes.”

“And why does your website has free access?”

“Well, we need servers to keep the website running, and for that we need money. We get our money from the advertisers. Therefore, the more people visit my website, the better.”

“What is the most common type of sins that you get on your website?”

“You would be surprised, Lesley, but we actually keep some kind of statistic. And most of the sins are love related. I remember a funny one, when a girl had two boyfriends who loved her dearly and both proposed to her and she said ‘yes’ to both of them! And then she was busy stretching time, because she could not decide with who of them she wanted to be.” Ashley raised her arms “And that’s it, that’s the whole sin. She did receive a lot of advice, though, that girl, in the comments section, together with a lot of hatred.”

“Hah,” said the hostess of the show, “I understand. I can’t even get one boyfriend, let alone two!”

A small laughter was heard in the audience.

“But,” continued the hostess “It is not exactly a sin, is it, having two boyfriends?”

“No. But even stories like that get to be posted. Some people do consider it a sin. She said ‘yes’ to both of them, but she kind of lied, because she actually did not know who she really loves.”

“So, most of the sins on your website are love-related?”

“Yes, those are usually short ‘I betrayed my partner’ stories. Sometimes people write that they wish to kill their partner for cheating them, sometimes they write that they actually did it. As an example, there was a girl who caught her fiancé in bed with her friend. But she didn’t let them know she saw them, because she and her fiancé have planned a trip to Caribbean Sea, where she really wanted to go. And she just decided to kill het fiancé after the trip.”

“She didn’t join them at it, huh?” said Lesley. “I believe that, not long ago, it was on the news that a man got thrown overboard in the Caribbean Sea. The poor bastard was eaten by sharks. Perhaps it was the same guy?”

“Maybe.” answered Ashley with a smirk on her face.

“Do you think it is because of the sins that your website has such a great success?” continued the hostess. “That people are curious about other people’s affairs and that is why the go to your website and read all those stories?”

“Well, it is not only that, no. The stories are interesting and fascinating, and they are the core of the whole venture. But it is also a fact that there was zero risk involved from the start. I mean financial risk. All I had to do is make a website, which did cost me some time, and get it up in the air. The rest was just marketing, a lot of marketing through social media. And, step by step, more people kept on visiting and here I am.”

“Before we cut to the commercials, it is time for our first caller!” said the hostess of the show. “And I believe we already have someone on the line. Hello?”

“Yes, hello?” said a manly, but nervous voice.

“Welcome to the show ‘People and their Success’,” Lesley was excited that she had a male caller. “What is your name?”

“Yes. Hi. Uhm…  I would like to remain anonymous, please. Because I believe I know something about your guest that… Well, she is not telling the truth! Her website is based on lies and I want to expose her!”

“And how do we know that what you are going to tell us is the truth?” asked the hostess of the show.

“Whatever you do or do not believe me is irrelevant. But I want you to listen to this. I used to work for her .Part of my job was to read the comments and to delete abusive, discriminating and very offensive ones. Another part of my job was to write sins. About ninety percent of all the stories on her website are fake ones. They are made up. And that story about a corrupt mayor – I thought of that, it is my idea. The amount of people that truly post their ‘confessions’ is too damn low! The purpose of her website is just to make money and for that she needs to entertain all the visitors. With lies and deceives, because the real stories of real sins done by real people are dull and tiring. And Ashley, since you didn’t think of changing the login codes, I am uploading all the proof of my words to your website right now!”

The disconnecting beeping was heard through the entire studio, indicating that the caller was no longer on a line. Ashley was sitting looking ashen. It was obvious that she did not expect that outcome at all.

“Ashley, can you say something about what we’ve just heard?” the hostess of the show broke the silence.

Ashley sat speechless for a moment, her eyes focused on the floor. Then, when the heavy sigh, she spoke. “It is true, Lesley. From the beginning I was thinking up various ‘confessions’ and uploading them to my website. How else could my website attract audience? I needed a lot of stories!

And of course I want to make money, who doesn’t? And I have worked hard for it. And I still do. Because, yes, some of the stories are made up. But it is an entertainment website, which is for free. Haven’t you heard the phrase: if a product is free, then you are the product? And yes, in my case, you are. But all I need is for people to visit my website and take a look at those advertisers. That is all.”

“But, Ashley, it is all a lie. Your website, your stories. It is all based on lies.”

“Can you make a lot of money in a short time if you are honest? I don’t think so. This is how success is truly build, Lesley, with luck, hard work and silence about the type of work. Because if everyone was truly honest, their achievements would be of poor quality.

And I would not be the creator of my website if I didn’t ask you one question, Lesley. Would you let my sins go?”


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