I'm walking to the lottery store with a third generation lottery ticket in my hand. The rain is coming down softly, so I pull myself tighter into my hoodie and wonder idly how soon it will be before I need to invest in a heavy jacket. I've gone entire winters jacketless, and I find myself hoping I'll make it through another one without having to put down the two hundred bucks to grab a new coat.
It's been three weeks since I bought the first lottery ticket. A spur-of-the-moment purchase at the convenience store, grabbed entirely so that I wouldn't get so much change when I used that twenty-dollar bill to pick up a pack of gum. And so far, it's done pretty well for itself - each week, I get just enough numbers right to give me a new ticket.
It's almost a weekly ritual at this point. I walk into the store, make idle chit-chat, and check my ticket. When I get my free ticket, I grab another pack of gum with a ten, getting enough change for laundry that week.
Each time I check the ticket, I superstitiously avoid thinking about it - if I avoid thinking about winning, I increase my odds of winning. I know it's a completely pointless thought that lacks any sense or reason, but there it is.
It's a game. It's as if I'm using reverse psychosis on fate. "Look, fate, obviously I don't care whether I win or lose. In fact, I'm not thinking about it all... I WANT to lose. So, go ahead. Let me lose." And so far, it's worked. Each week, I win a free ticket, carrying on the period in which I subconsciously think I may be a millionaire, while consciously doing everything I can to avoid thinking about that possibility.
I get to the convenience store, walking past a small dog tied to a post. The rain drips off the eaves, collecting in a puddle that the dog drinks from. The asian couple nod to me as I enter, while they watch a chinese soap opera on a laptop. I mingle through the store, grabbing a pack of gum on my way to the lottery checker. Spearmint. I swipe the ticket, waiting. Trying not to think of what I would do if I won millions.
Trying not to think of the house I'd buy - small, but with maybe half an acre of land and maybe even on the water. With a bar in the basement large enough for a pool table and maybe a drum set. A kitchen with an island and a large stove. A garden.
Trying not to think of maybe buying a boat. Trying not to think of taking my friends out for some crazy party. Trying not to think of which charities would receive a portion of my largesse. Trying not to think of the guitars I would buy. Trying not to think of being able to be a full-time student.
Of course, I fail miserably. Just for a second, I think of what I would do if I won that money. And, of course, in that second, I've lost. Because the machine tells me "Sorry - Please Play Again".
I shrug, defeated, and approach the cashier. She smiles back at me, aware that my run of "free ticket luck" has died. She swipes my gum while I fumble in my pocket. All I have is a twenty.
What the hell.
"Can I have another ticket? With the extra?"