Winning

It was a long time ago, when I was a young boy. I did a good thing. I bought a two dollar donation ticket for some charity. I was indifferent to the act, being too young to understand what donation even meant. But my mother told me to be proud of myself, and so I was.

Later on in the day, I studied the ticket carefully. There was a lucky draw to be held on a certain date, the results of which would be printed in the newspapers. Then I saw it, the first prize, a whopping twelve thousand dollars. A thrill ran through my body. I could win. I had a ticket after all. I could win it. Honestly, I did not even know what I would do with twelve thousand dollars. But it was the thought of it, the thought of owning that large sum of money, to show it to my mother, to hear the happiness and pride in my parents’ voices, and maybe even to show off to my friends. These grand visions swam before my eyes and I grinned from head to toe. For the rest of the day, I kept thinking of the ways I would use that money and the joys it would bring. Somehow, all that dreaming made me feel like I was sure to win, that it was fated. That night, while lying in bed, my eyes were closed but my mind raced. I would be the first boy to be so rich! I got out of bed and turned on the side lamp. I reached for the ticket on my desk. I read it again. Even the second prize of a thousand dollars is not that bad I thought. I switched the light off. I clutched the ticket in my greedy palm and murmured a silent prayer. If I won, I would donate a thousand to charity. I will win, I will win, I will win. Please let me win?

The day of the draw arrived. By then, my ticket was creased and worn with my constant care. I woke up that morning and immediately rushed to the stack of newspapers. I took the lot of them away to a corner of the living room. My parents were having breakfast at the dining table, wondering at my odd behavior. I flipped through the papers impatiently, leaving a crumpled mess in my wake. Finally, I found the results. I averted my eyes quickly as I took the ticket out of my pocket and placed it next to the results.

The number of the winning ticket was unfamiliar. So too was the second prize. And the third. I scanned through the consolation prizes with a touch of desperation. The ticket lay next to the results, forlorn, foreign, and it grew more and more unsightly with each passing moment. I snatched it up and tore it in two. I realized that my mother was standing behind me. How much had she seen? I calmed myself down and straightened the newspapers. I folded them back into a neat stack. I turned around and smiled innocently at her, grasping the torn halves of the ticket in a clenched fist behind my back.

“What was so important in the paper?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said. I could not come up with anything quick enough. “Well, just the results of a lucky draw.”

“Did you win?” she asked with a sly smile.

“No. But it’s okay. I wasn’t expecting to anyway.” I lowered my eyes.

“Good. Don’t expect too much boy. Winning only happens to those who deserve it.”

“Don’t I deserve it?” I blurted out.

“Oh? And what did you do to deserve it?” My mother towered over me, arms akimbo.

“I donated! And I would even donate some of the prize too if I won.” I was saying too much but I could not control myself, the words fizzled out of my mouth like a shaken can of Coke.

“Oh you donated did you? Boy, I wish I won something every time I made a donation,” she said. “You silly child! You lost the moment you read the ticket.”

My mother grabbed the hand I held behind me and pried my fingers open. She took the scraps from my hand and walked away. A few days later, when I came home from school, I found the ticket on my desk. It was smoothed out, taped, and laminated. I picked it up. Somehow, I liked it and I have kept it with me ever since, a trophy of sorts.

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