The Lottery Ticket: A Short Story
Polly put the two Bingo scratch cards on the table. She always felt a little guilty — her dad’s words burrowing their way uninvited into her consciousness: “The lottery is just a tax on the stupid.”
The £6 she and Paul spent each week in the hope of winning the £300,000 jackpot should be going into their meagre savings account, but they justified it as their way of giving to charity.
Paul didn’t entirely approve, but Polly was a volunteer at the Saffron Lane Estate, a local community project offering work experience and training to adults with learning difficulties. She adored being out of doors, digging, planting and harvesting in the gardens. The management had recently invested in a polytunnel — money that had come from The National Lottery Fund, so Polly liked to think of the money she and Paul spent on scratch cards as a contribution to the plastic tunnel she sheltered in when the rain came.
“I’ve got the scratch cards,” Polly shouted up the stairs.
“On my way,” Paul called back.
Their 2-bedroomed terrace home on the outskirts of Leicester was only small, but they had worked hard to improve it. They often talked about what they would do if they won the jackpot. Or better still, the Premium Bonds — her father had given her £200 worth as a wedding present, and she had hung on to them even when times were tough to keep the dream alive. Two heart-breaking failed attempts at IVF treatment on the NHS meant that their first outlay would be for private fertility treatment. Then they would pay off the £80,000 mortgage, relieving the pressure on Paul’s income as a plumber and her nursery assistant salary.
They dreamed of being able to pay all their bills without worry, having options and freedom, and maybe taking a Caribbean cruise.
Polly got up to make a cup of tea as Paul used a twenty pence piece to scratch away the yellow squares and reveal his numbers. She didn’t want him to see her face — she had some good news she was desperate to share, and she couldn’t believe she had managed to keep it a secret for twelve long weeks. She couldn’t wait to see his face when she told him, but she wanted to save it until the evening when they…