by Janice Daugharty
Copyright 2010 Janice Daugharty
First published in the Georgia Journal
I won the lottery, Eileen keeps saying to herself, stoking coals of happiness in her head. Also, she says it to get in the practice of thinking I and not we won the lottery. But she can't help imagining the twist of newspaper headlines when it's official: DUCK AND EILEEN DIXON OF CORNERVILLE, GEORGIA, WIN MEASLY MILLION FOLLOWING THE BIG 83 MILLION FLORIDA LOTTERY OF LAST WEEKEND.
For the hundreth time, she places the winning ticket alongside the correct combination of numbers in the newspaper column: 8, 21, 47, 16, 22, 11. Exact match.
One problem--among many--though: who owns the winning ticket, Duck or Eileen?
On Friday evening, they had bought twenty-five LOTTO tickets each out of their own personal money; by Saturday evening, count-down to drawing time, Duck could lay hands on only twenty-four of his, and Eileen could scrounge up only twenty-four of hers too, and the winning ticket later turned up on the floor before the tv set.
Eileen, not Duck, had found it and matched the numbers called out on the midnight news. So, by rights, she'd argued, the winning ticket was hers and he had lost his twenty-fifth ticket, which she refuses to search for in their stuffed mobile home, because holding the lost losing ticket in her hand now might be taken as an admission that it is hers.