Lottery Ticket

Henry finished eating his pasta. Allison and Tanya had already finished, their places abandoned for whatever teenagers do in their room. Jamie was just finishing up. “When you’re done, bring your plate into the kitchen.” Henry took the container of parmesan, totally empty, even of the dust in the bottom. It hit the bottom of the trash can with a hollow sound. He stacked his plate in the sink with the ones already there.

Henry heard Jamie’s little feet come in behind him. She put her plate on the counter next to him, the silverware clinking. “Are we watching tonight?”

Henry looked at her skeptically. “I’ll be watching, but have you finished your homework?”

“Yeeeees.”

“Let me see it.”

Jamie squirmed. “I did most of it…”

“Jamie…”

Jamie sighed and disappeared into her room.

Henry turned to the dishes on the counter, he carefully scraped the pasta sauce off each one with a spatula before rinsing them and putting them in the dishwasher.

Jamie came back and dropped her bag on the table with a clunk. She pulled out some paper and stared at it, the end of her pencil in her mouth.

“What have I told you about biting your pencil Jamie?”

“But I’m not biting it, it’s just in my mouth, see?”

“Don’t do that either, that pencil is disgusting, who knows where it’s been?”

Henry pulled the detergent out from under the sink. It was almost empty. He sighed, just another thing. He tried to use only just enough to get the dishes clean. He closed the dishwasher and stood leaning on the counter, eyes unfocused. He took a deep breath to revive himself and opened the fridge. There wasn’t much in it, some eggs, and some milk. There was grape jelly in the door that he grabbed. It would be enough, if he spread it thinly enough. He took out the bread and peanut butter. He made three sandwiches with jelly and one without. Lunch for one more day.

The clock on the stove said 7:47, about 10 minutes until the lottery drawing. Henry knocked on his daughters’ door. “It’s almost time girls, come on out.”

Tanya’s voice was muffled through the door as she called back, “Okay, be right there.”

He tapped Jamie’s shoulder. “You done?”

“Almost.”

“If you promise to finish after, you can come watch with me.”

“Okay.”

They had had a hard time all squeezing onto the couch together, but they made it work. Tanya held the ticket in the middle where they could all see it. It didn’t matter really, they knew the numbers by heart, but it was tradition.

Henry asked the same question he asked every week. “What are you going to get if we win?”

Jamie answered first, “I’m going to get all different kinds of lipstick so I can wear a different color every day.”

“You’re not even old enough to wear lipstick.”

“You said we could get whatever we want, that’s what I want.”

“Okay. And you two? What are you going to get Allison?”

Allison didn’t hesitate, “A computer.”

“And you, Tanya?”

“I saw this really cool collection of paints.”

Then Jamie asked the question she always asked, “And what about you, Dad?”

“I’m going to get a new house to hold all this stuff.” Nobody laughed at the joke, but they smiled from familiarity and comfort.

Henry turned on the TV, already on the right channel. “Shhh. They’re about to pick them.” He said and turned up the volume on the TV.

The presenter’s voice came over the video of an attractive woman in front of a machine, “And tonight’s lottery numbers are…”

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