The Lottery Ticket – Part 1

The prompt: You have 500 words to write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, which includes the phrase to the moon.”

Now showing my age, I have to admit the first thing that popped into my head was “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason, where Ralph Kramden says to his wife Alice, “You are going straight to the moon, Alice.” However I couldn’t work that into anything helpful.

While I was trying to figure out what to write I pulled a bunch of books out of the shelves and read the first lines. One of them struck a chord and something flowed from it. I didn’t use that person’s line, but it was enough to send my creative juices flowing.

500 words seemed like a lot when I started and then once I got to writing I found that it wasn’t enough so I spent last night during my sleepless hours tweaking it down to about 496 words according to the word counter. This is my finished version.

The Lottery Ticket

By Teresa Smeigh

The wind whistled loudly down the alley and Tim Ryan tried unsuccessfully to turn up his collar to protect his neck and ears. He should have dressed warmer. He didn’t even have gloves or a hat. He couldn’t leave to go get them either because the line behind him was growing rapidly.

He had been daydreaming ever since they announced on the morning news that they were holding a special lottery at midnight. A lottery where you didn’t have to purchase a ticket. Only so many tickets would be handed out, but they wouldn’t announce how many they were going to hand out. You had to be there to win. They weren’t even going to announce the prize ahead of time, but they promised that it was a once-in-a-lifetime prize.

Tim Ryan was down on his luck. His ex-wife was demanding her alimony and he didn’t have it. She was threatening to report him and get him thrown in jail for not paying his support. He had lost his job a few weeks ago and hadn’t been able to find a new one yet, but being in jail wasn’t going to help. Surely she had to see that? He knew this lottery just had to be the answer to all of his problems. He would do anything to get her off his back.

So here he was, standing in a freezing alley with hundreds of others. He had hurried to the drawing spot as soon as he had heard the announcement. He just knew that the place would be packed. He noticed that the line was getting even longer behind him.

Tim was jumping around trying to keep warm. He certainly hoped that the prize was worth all of this. He was cold and tired. He had to stay alert to make sure no one jumped the line. This prize just had to be his.

The clock tower struck midnight and the crowd quieted down expectantly. The announcer stood on the back of a flat bed truck and spoke into his microphone telling everyone to stay in a straight line and begin moving towards him and take an envelope, but they were not to open it yet. The line would continue to move until all envelopes had been handed out.

Tim followed the line in front of him. Finally he was close enough to see that they still had a pile of envelopes. He was going to get one. He was told to move over with the others. Once the last envelope was given out, the announcer wished them luck and told them that the winner would know what their prize was when they opened the envelope, there were 99 blank tickets and one prize, but not to open it until he said “go!”

Once the announcer yelled “go” the crowd ripped open their envelopes. Tim ripped his open and his mouth fell open. Printed on his ticket was “ONE-WAY FLIGHT TO THE MOON.”

Hope you enjoyed my foray into the world of writing prompts.

Tessa

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About Tessa

Teresa (Tessa) Smeigh is now in her 60's and still going strong despite her disabilities affecting both physical and mental abilities. She has bipolar disorder (mental), Fibromyalgia (nerves), degenerative disc disease (spine), and arthritis (joints). Despite that she is active in Mental Health Advocating, writing for www.IBPF.org (volunteer for non-profit) and has 5 blog posts already published by them. She is also working on 2 fiction books (mysteries). She keeps her blog filled with useful content, daily devotionals (She is a Christian), stories and poems. Plenty to keep you busy. She has also been interviewed by blogs and had other posts published on many different blogs. She has 3 blogs so far http://www.tessacandoit.com and http://www.finallyawriter.com and http://www.sunnythoughtsandprayers.wordpress.com She is from Deptford, NJ. Her family and blogs keep her busy.
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20 Responses to The Lottery Ticket – Part 1

  1. Marg says:

    I enjoyed reading this Teresa.
    Marg

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    • Tessa says:

      Thank you Marg! I just finished another one and have to post it here, already posted it to the website that posted the prompt.

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  2. This was evocatively described and I liked his prize, I’m not sure if that was quite what he was hoping for or if it’s going to be any good at fixing his problems. I wonder where it does take him, I suppose metaphorically rather than the moon, maybe that would be worth exploring. Historically when they’ve got Joe Bloggs involved in space travel, it hasn’t always ended as well as might be hoped, that’s what that final line brought to my mind. 🙂

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    • Tessa says:

      Thank you! This one is actually pooling in my mind and I am thinking of expanding it. I had to take a lot out to make it 500 words. Haven’t decided if it actually fixed his problems or not, but it is always possible. Just have to see where it takes me.

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  3. Well, it isn’t jail. I was expecting something terrible, like in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” I guess, in a way, it is. Or maybe this is a future world where going to the moon is an amazing opportunity? Now I want to know more.

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    • Tessa says:

      Thank you. I don’t believe I have ever read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, but if I did I have forgotten it. I am thinking of expanding it to an actual story. It will take some thought as I don’t know yet how I want it to go, but I did have to cut out a lot to fit into the 500 word limit.

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  4. nice! One way to the moon can be problematic. For someone down on his luck, it could be good or bad. Lovely vivid and cold. I shivered!

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    • Tessa says:

      Thank you for reading and the compliments! I was leaning toward it being good, getting him away from earth and his problems. One way because he is going to have a hard time getting back LOL, but will he want to come back? Look at what is waiting for him here.

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  5. You did a great job setting up the anticipation and tension here. I have to admit I was a little worried, and I guess there’s still a sense of foreboding, since we don’t know exactly what a ticket to the moon entails.

    You mentioned you were having trouble cutting things. Something that could, perhaps be cut, especially if you are expanding this was the level of detail about his loss of a job/child support issues. If you leave out a few of those details, it will add even a little more ambiguity to the story. For example, if you cut out the part about him looking for new work, it leaves more room for the reader to wonder if they should be rooting for or against Henry. (just thinking out loud!)

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    • Tessa says:

      Thank you! My thinking was that the loss of job and child support would make the trip to the moon a way to fix that problem and take him away from the situation. Although I realize it should have been just alimony because if he was happy to get away from his ex-wife, great, but not so good to be happy to get away from the child so the prize wouldn’t have been quite as lucky if you know where I am going with this. Not sure I know where I am going with this myself actually. It will takes some thought since I plan to expand. That was actually my first time writing in a very long time so it went better than I thought it would and practice will make it easier to know what to include and what to leave out.

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  6. i need a winning lottery ticket as well! Though, going to the moon doesn’t sound bad at all, either. 😉

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  7. Wisper says:

    Nice. If you didn’t know what the prompt was, the ending would be a great twist. I would love to see you go back and expand this. I think it would make a great short story at bare minimum!

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    • Tessa says:

      Thank you! I am thinking about expanding it to a short story. Still trying to figure out where to expand though. Thanks for the comment. I am glad you liked it!

      Like

  8. jannatwrites says:

    I liked this! (When I saw “alley” in the first line, I thought of the Trifecta challenge, too.) The moon might be far enough to get away from his troubles with his ex, but it will no doubt create another set of troubles (problems have a way of morphing and following us :)) I won’t think about that, though. I’ll choose to think it’s the answer to his prayers.

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    • Tessa says:

      Thank you for reading. I am still considering expanding this a little more into a short story. I used the word “alley” in this and then when “alley” came up as the prompt I was trying to figure out what to do, but it wasn’t working. I don’t write a lot of poetry, but then it came to me. So “alley” became a poem LOL! I have been enjoying your blog as well, especially the story about Arkansas’ birthday party. How precious!

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  9. El Guapo says:

    Well done! that was an unexpected ending, and fit the story perfectly.

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