© C Walker 2012

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It Can't Be Me


C Walker

Rose hurried across the road, her excitement increasing. Maggie would be waiting. The door to her house was open. Rose went in.

"Here I am," she called as she made her way to the front room. The regular treat of wine and chocolates was already there. Rose poured them both a glass of wine. She wanted to do it before Maggie saw her trembling hands. She sat in her usual chair, the tension rising. It was Saturday night and time for the lottery.

Rose fidgeted in her seat, eager for the draw to begin. "Are you alright?" asked Maggie, when she came in. "You seem on edge."

"I'm fine, just looking forward to the draw," answered Rose, sitting on her hands to stop herself fidgeting.

Maggie laughed. " You don’t normally get this excited. Anyone would think you had a ticket."

Rose didn’t answer. Maggie didn’t know how right she was - Rose did have a ticket. She had never had one before; partly because her heart couldn't stand the excitement and also she considered herself to be an unlucky person. She went through life picking the slowest queue in the Post Office, the till at the supermarket that gave up the ghost when it was her turn and cash machines which made a meal out of her cards.

She was philosophical about it. She told her friends she never expected any luck to come her way, so when it didn’t and everything went wrong she wasn't the least bit surprised! Therefore, buying lottery tickets had always seemed a waste of time for someone like her.

The situation changed two days ago when Rose had gone to the local newsagents to pay her newspaper bill. She also bought some charity raffle tickets. She was into her fifth year without winning anything; more proof of her bad luck. She justified it by telling herself it was for a good cause.

Anyway, when she came out of the newsagents she had noticed a piece of paper on the ground; it was a lottery ticket. Rose had picked it up and gone straight back into the shop to hand it in to Mr Orrell, the shop owner.

She had studied the numbers while waiting in the queue. Her birthday, house number and age were amongst them; what a coincidence. Rose had started to think that handing in the ticket would be a mistake. Judging by the number of people in the queue doing the lottery, Mr Orrell wouldn’t know whose ticket it was.

Rose had moved out of the queue and pretended to look at the magazines. She thought about what she was going to do.

"Excuse me," a woman said. Rose had jumped.

"I... I.... was going to hand it in," stammered Rose, guiltily. The woman looked at her as if she had gone mad.

"I just wanted to get a magazine," she said, reaching past Rose without getting too close. Rose went pink, apologised and hurried out of the shop. She couldn't face going back into the shop; so she had gone home. By this time Rose had decided to keep the ticket; anyway, with her luck it had no chance of being a winning one.

Rose had memorised the numbers. She hadn't told Maggie about the ticket because she felt like a criminal. Heaven knows what I'm going to do if I win, she thought, smiling to herself.

The draw started. "12," said the presenter on the television. Rose squirmed, she had the first number.

"16," Rose swallowed hard, she had this one as well.

"49," said the man. Rose sighed - she didn't have that one.

"19," Rose clenched her fists; another one she didn't have.

"23," Rose squeaked. Maggie was too engrossed to notice the noise.

"41," Rose almost leapt out of her seat. She had got four numbers, she couldn't believe it. She wondered how much she had won. Not millions or even a hundred thousand; but it could be thousands. No, she thought, but it could be hundreds, even one hundred would be nice. Rose had to stop herself from dancing round the room. She had never won anything before. What would she buy with the money? How could she tell Maggie? Where did you collect the winnings from?

Usually, when the lottery finished they would watch the television together. Rose was too excited, so she told Maggie she had a headache and went home. Rose felt deceitful but decided she would buy Maggie a present with some of her winnings to make up for it.

Rose checked and double checked the numbers when she got home, she definitely had four. She started to feel guilty about the ticket because it wasn't actually hers. After an overnight battle with her conscience she decided to go back to the newsagents and see if anyone had reported losing their ticket.

"Good morning Rose," said Mr Orrell. "We don't normally have the pleasure of your company on a Sunday."

"No, it's just that I was wondering if anyone had told you they had lost their lottery ticket," said Rose, with her fingers crossed.

" I don't remember anyone mentioning it," replied Mr Orrell.

"I found this ticket outside your shop a few days ago," said Rose. "There was a long queue and I didn't think you would remember who bought it, so I took it home."

"You're quite right," laughed Mr Orrell. "So many people buy those tickets, I'd never remember one in particular."

"That makes me feel much better," said Rose, relieved. "I wouldn't have bothered coming back, only I checked the numbers and four of them came up."

"Let me have a look for you," said Mr Orrell, taking the ticket. "That would be very lucky - your first ticket a winning one."

He looked at the ticket then looked at Rose with a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry, but this ticket was for Wednesday's draw, somebody must have thrown it away when they didn't win anything."

Rose’s heart sunk. Wishing the ground would open up and swallow her; she muttered an apology and turned to leave. "Don't go," said Mr Orrell. "I've got some news for you - you won second prize in last weeks raffle."

Rose turned back, all thoughts of the lottery disappearing. "What have I won?" A food mixer, a set of saucepans, all sorts of exciting things were going through her mind.

" Well, it's probably not a very good prize for you," said Mr Orrell, slightly embarrassed.

"Anything would be nice," said Rose, hoping for the food mixer.

"You’ve won fifty free entries on the lottery," he said.

Rose laughed. "Well, you never know, the raffle may be the start of a run of good luck." She was already thinking about what numbers to pick for next week’s draw.