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The man and the woman sit on their futon, watching the lottery results. A ticket rests on the cardboard box that serves as their coffee table for now. They both know the odds of winning are low, but they secretly think they’re special. Everyone casts themselves as the hero of their own story.

The man will buy a flashy sports car if they win. A Ferrari or a Lamborghini or something equally outrageous. He’ll buy a real coffee table and a penthouse in South Beach. He’ll blow a hundred million on smooth-as-hell tequila and finely tailored suits and still have millions to spare. He will be disgustingly, grotesquely rich. Most importantly, she will quit nagging him to get off his ass and get a new job. He’ll walk up to his old boss, tell him off and then buy the whole chain of lumberyards. And the sawmills that feed them. And the forests. He won’t let anyone log it anymore, not because he’s an environmentalist, but because it will make his ex-boss furious.

He smiles and watches the numbered balls tumble in their cages. Somewhere in there, he thinks, are his lucky numbers.

She smiles at him, but she feels like she’s tumbling in that cage. If they win, she’ll call her mother and brother and probably get her nails done. Then, they’ll fight over the money. He’ll want to spend it on luxuries; on parties and clothes. She’ll want to be sensible.

“Let’s invest,” she imagines herself saying. “Let’s give some to charity. Or go back to school. Let’s think about the future.”

And she imagines him buying her a diamond necklace just to redirect the conversation while he guzzles Dom Perignon because he can. She imagines their winnings in cash piled into a high, impenetrable wall between them.

She imagines herself leaving before the debt collectors start hounding him for the reckless spending of his youth. She imagines herself watching from afar as relatives and old friends devour him. She imagines herself in roughly the same place a year from now, on her futon, eating dinner and watching TV alone in front of a cardboard box that serves as a coffee table for now. Until something better comes along. Until fate intervenes.

That’s what the lottery is, she decides. It’s a desperate hope that fate will intervene and save you from having to save yourself. Maybe if they don’t win, he’ll revise his resume. Maybe she’ll go back to school. Maybe they’ll stay on the futon, watching the lottery drawings.

She rests her head on his shoulder as the numbers are read. They come slowly. The first number matches. Then the second. His shoulders tense. Her jaw clenches. The rest of the numbered balls line up in a neat little row on the screen. None of the rest match.

“Damn,” he says.

She reaches for the remote control to change the channel, saying nothing.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. He did not win the largest lottery jackpot in history, but his written work has appeared in Creative Colloquy, which is also pretty cool. You can find him on Twitter.

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