500 Word Short Story
Beating the Odds
Scott A. Gese

500 Word Short Story

There was nothing left of the money.

They took it all. Wiped me out and then asked me to leave the table. Not even a “Sorry 'bout your luck” farewell drink. Bastards! Luckily it was only a thousand dollars.

It's not just my luck that's gone sour. For the past couple of months my whole life has hit the skids. The last of my kids moved out of the house. My wife was close behind. Said she had “fulfilled her obligation” and now her life was her own again. She made it quite apparent that I was no longer included.

It looks like I'm a free man now, except for the job I really despise, but need. So maybe I'm not as free as I think. I'm shackled to it for now.

The day the divorce papers were finalized I was feeling low. I stopped and had a couple of drinks after work. I bought a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket on the way out. I don't normally play the lottery, but as I said, I was feeling sorry for myself and I needed something to cheer me up. It felt good to fantasize about what I would do if I ended up being the big winner.

When I got home I threw the smokes and the ticket on my dresser and went to bed.

The ticket was promptly forgotten about. A full week went by before I remembered it. I had heard some lucky bastard had won the grand prize. Whoever it was was probably sitting on a beach in Tahiti right now sucking down one of those fruity umbrella drinks. I knew my chances of winning were slim to none and probably closer to the latter. The odds favor the house in a big way. That's why I never play.

It was Monday morning. I shoved the ticket into my pocket and figured I'd check it when I got to the office.

It was around noon when I finally checked the ticket. I pulled up the lottery website. My head bobbed between the screen and the ticket as I checked the numbers. Then I checked them again. Then I checked them for a third time.

Each time I checked I made excuses. My eyesight's bad. I'm not reading these numbers correctly. I must not be doing this right. But every time they came up the same. A perfect match. The prize was twenty million dollars. Things like this don't happen to me. My heart was pounding with excitement. I began to feel queasy.

I wasn't sure what to do next. I had to read the instructions on the back of the ticket before I realized I needed to sign it. I did, then tucked it safely into my wallet.

I regained my composure, walked into my bosses office and gave him my notice, effective immediately. I redeemed the ticket and booked a flight to Tahiti.

I was looking forward to one of those fruity umbrella drinks.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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