Summary: Written for the prompt: Adam wins the lottery. And that’s all there is to it.
Word Count: 750
The throng seems more of a melee than the happy gathering of people it is supposed to be. It’s atrocious. Heinous. Adam almost regrets he bought a ticket in the first place, but the Christmas lottery serves, after all, a good cause—the building of a new school house—and Adam is the last person to not support that purpose. That’s why he has bought a raffle ticket (ten, to be precise, but only one of them sported a prize-promising number, the rest were blanks), and now he’s wrestling his way through the crush of men, women, children, and dogs towards the stall where the prizes are handed out.
If he’s honest with himself, it’s not about the prize at all. It can’t be worth much, anyway, not when as much profit as possible is supposed to be benefitted to the school house. No, it’s the concept of having won in itself, and the…the surprise. It’s almost embarrassing—but also comforting and nostalgic…and suddenly he is ten again, with the first ever ticket of his young life in hand, and the suspense is almost too much for him to bear.
He has to laugh as he thinks back to that time—and promptly receives a scandalised look from a pretty blonde in a handsome fur-lined coat.
“How dare you!” she berates him.
He wants to beg off, resolve her misconception; but she throws her chin up, twists her mouth: her whole pretty countenance transforms into a disdainful scowl. Haughty, but so verily not endearing, (which haughty can be when paired with a good dose of self-mockery).
Oh, well, I guess not then.
Instead, he apologises in advance to the couple that now blocks his path as he tries to squeeze himself through between them. However, the two don’t even notice him, too much involved in hurling insults into each other’s faces. Apparently he had a few drinks too many, and she bought a few things too many. Then he tries it with puppy eyes—and she laughs him down. He starts to beg her, she to ridicule him—Adam almost blushes, so much is he embarrassed for them. Eventually they break apart, not much, only opening a small gap between them, but Adam sees to it that he gets away from his piteousness and her malice.
Finally he makes it to the raffle booth. There’s only one person waiting before him, a young woman with a toddler in her arms. The boy is whining, he sags limply in his mother’s clutch, his hands reach out for her face.
“Mamamamamam,” he wails.
“None of that!” she hisses. “Will you stop it already! That blubbering, always that blubbering! Just this once I want to have a little pleasure, and you’re ruining it. You always do that, always! Now be still, already. Be still, be still!” She rocks the little one, impatiently—even Adam can see that it isn’t doing any good, that the harsh jiggling only manages to irritate the baby even more.
For a moment he considers offering his help, but then the woman snatches her prize from the booth keeper’s hand, presses the small plush bunny at her son’s chest, “here! And now be quiet,” and dashes away towards the fairground. Her gait is furious, her voice, too. “If only I hadn’t had you,” he can hear from far, nearly but not completely drowned out by the child’s wailing.
The booth keeper shrugs—there isn’t anything he could do, could he?—Adam receives his prize; and then he struggles back, through the throng, past barking dogs, scuffling children, nagging mothers, bawling drunks, squabbling spouses.
Eventually he gets back. Back to where Juliet is waiting for him, beaming, and Henry on her arm is waving and gifting him with one of his wonderful, no-longer-completely toothless grins.
“I already began to fear the crowd had swallowed you up,” Juliet says, and reaches with her free hand for his. Squeezes it, gently. “Have you at least gotten something good?”
With a curt bow, he presents her with the red paper rose and smiles at her regal nod of acceptance. “I have,” he says then, and kisses the tip of her nose, and Henry’s too. “I have: the jackpot, no less.”
Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow