by Nickie O’Hara
She sat on her faded, aged settee, clutching the crumpled lottery ticket, not daring to let it out of her sight. She’d chosen the numbers carefully – not the usual birthdays and anniversaries but numbers that she thought would be lucky. It was 7.30pm on a Saturday and the usual evening rituals of evening meal, washing up and the pouring of a glass of wine had been conducted. She was trying to stay calm but she always got jittery at the same time, every week. Her mind was full of ‘What if’s…’ and she almost couldn’t bear the tension but she knew that was part of her enjoyment of the weekly ritual… or torture, whichever way you looked at it.
At 8.05pm the familiar theme tune struck up, the blue logo and the red writing to which she had become so accustomed flew into view on the television screen and she could feel the excitement and tension building.
As the host of the quiz show (used to pad out the 30-second draw into a hour-long show) appeared she tutted and shuffled in her chair. More time to wait! But she felt that she couldn’t complain as the children enjoyed this bit, mainly because they had a one-in-four chance of getting the answer right thanks to the answers appearing on screen. And of course, they tolerated her little indulgence each week.
The crack of a can of lager opening to her right hand side made her jump slightly and she glanced over to her husband, sat in his usual chair, relaxing with his drink, waiting, uncomplainingly until the children had gone to bed, when they could snuggle together on the settee with a bootleg copy of a recent film from his “hush-hush-wink-wink-say-no-more-it’s-cheap” mate at work. The jolt back to reality prompted her to look around her cosy lounge and appreciate what she already had… a roof over her head, happy, well-fed children, a loving husband… but she had her dreams. She was allowed, wasn’t she?
A drum roll pounded out of the speakers of the television, a pretty, young, blonde female presenter stepped in front of the camera and proceeded to speak to a body-less voice who was known as “The Voice Of The Balls”. The usual banter about independent adjudicators and random machine selection took place and the weekly call of “Ssssshhhhhh” reverberated around the lounge.
She checked her ticket one more time and then kept her eyes glued to the television screen.
The first ball dropped into view…
The second ball dropped into view…
The third, the fourth and the fifth…
Then the sixth…
She looked at her ticket. Her family turned and looked at her. She looked up and shook her head and they all heaved a sigh of relief.
Another week without a win. She’d proved, once again, that she didn’t need to win the lottery to be happy and she tucked the two-year-old lottery ticket back into her purse ready for the following week.
Nickie O’Hara: 1972 model, good condition (fairly large scratch on bodywork), one careful owner since 1990. Genuine mileage. Full history available.