The Lottery

Doubt. It is my constant companion — my friend? Maybe.

It’s the only thing in my life I can count on, so doesn’t that make it my friend?

I’m Emma Wallace, and yesterday I was an average 38 year old woman — today I am the winner of a lottery that millions entered, and only I was chosen.

But it’s still there — doubt, telling me I don’t deserve it. I’m certain the Commissioner will come in and inform me that it was all a mistake.

I’ve been sitting outside his office for more than an hour, ‘Why is he taking so long?’

Finally, his secretary says, “He’s ready to see you now.”

I enter a very large and extravagant office, ‘Why does that bother me?

Because I see no signs of the sacrifice he encourages all of us to endure. “They ask us to do what they won’t,” the voice of doubt says.

“Hello Miss Wallace.” The commissioner is a tall handsome man, “I am honored to meet you young lady.”

“Is he really?”

The Commissioner must see the questioning look on my face because he asks, “Are you alright Miss Wallace?”

“Yes sir, just a bit nervous.” His secretary set down a tray with coffee and pastries, she glances at me on her way out, ‘What was that look…disgust?’

“I’ve been looking at your records Miss Wallace,” The Commissioner says, “And the council and I find that you are an ideal candidate.”

I am relieved. My parents were so proud when my name was called. Since my older brother Daniel’s rebellion, as they call it, both have been ostracized by some important people in the region. But now that I’ve been selected, they can hold their heads up high again.

The commissioner stares at me, unblinking, then he asks, “What’s the one thing you wish for most in regards to your selection.”

Now for the obligatory statement that will be played the night I make my ascension. It will show everyone that I am a patriotic citizen of the region. There’s no chance in me blowing this answer, I’ve been trained day and night on what to say in my final interview.

“I wish to make the committee and the commissioner proud. As well as do what’s in the best interest of my people and my family.”

‘You don’t believe that.’

Shut up doubt.

The commissioner believes it, and that’s all that matters.

Mom and dad are throwing a lavish party in my honor — although it is more their re-introduction into society, than a celebration for me. The doubt creeps in again, “You can’t do this,” it says.

But it’s all I have. I’m 38, unmarried, and I have a nothing job. I know the probability of finding a husband is zero, because I’m past the regions prime age for childbearing, and no worthy man would take a chance on me. So this is it, the lottery is my last chance at glory.

“Is it?” The voice said.

I have a full week of television and newspaper interviews, plus elegant dinner parties to attend — it’s almost too much to bear. “You don’t want this,” the voice said. And maybe it was right.


Tonight the most respected family in the region has invited my parents and me to their home for dinner. My older brother Daniel, whom I haven’t seen in years, suddenly appears at my window.

“Daniel, I’m so glad to see you. Have you heard that I — “

“I don’t have much time Em. I need you to come with me, you can’t do this.”

I shake my head, but I want to go with him.

“These lotteries won’t save the region, they’re nothing more than — ”

But before Daniel could finish, The Commissioner’s guards burst in and take him away.

“We thought he might try and contact you,” Mom said. “That cult he belongs to keeps interfering with the lottery, and you being his sister, well…” Mom didn’t finish, she saw the look of anger in my eyes.

The voice of doubt says, “Why won’t they let him talk to you Emma?”

Mom kept trying to justify her actions, “We couldn’t take a chance that he’d take you away so close to the celebration.”

“Don’t trust her.” Doubt said.

Part of me never did.

The day has arrived. After spending weeks as the name and face of the region, I am now going to cash in my lottery ticket — on prime time television in fact.

They bring me into the final room, camera flashes blinding me, and the media making a noisy and furious ruckus. My friend doubt appears again, “Maybe Daniel was right.”

Why was I doing this? Was I trying to earn my parents love?

“Of course Emma, it’s always been about that.”

Doubt…my only friend, telling me what I need to hear.

The council assistants help equip me for my mission. As I step out onto the balcony of Commissioner’s Hall, I am greeted by the raucous cheering of the crowd — it is overwhelming.

“Today ladies and gentlemen,” The Commissioner says, “We have our first female lottery winner. And as I’ve gotten to know her over the course of these many weeks, I am certain that she will take the fight to our enemy without hesitation. She is an inspiration to us all!”

The crowd is cheering again, as the suicide vest tightens around my midsection — so much so, I can hardly breathe.

I am one, in a long line of lottery winners — all have failed to secure the peace. I am certain that none of this will make any difference, still, I doubt that I’ll be the last.

At least I know that in a few moments, there will be no more doubts.

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