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The Lottery
by T.B.H. Ames

Maggie's face was as pale as the gray skies barely discernable through the old, dirty window.  "I'm here," Thomas said to her softly while holding a crumpled piece of paper between his fingers.

"Did you get one?" she said, her mouth barely moving.

"Yes, beautiful, I got one."  He looked down at the small, white piece of paper, twirling it between his fingers, carefully avoiding touching the words written on one side of the slip.

"What numbers did you pick?" she said as she turned her head towards a beam of sun shining through a break in the clouds.

"Our anniversary," he responded while touching her cheek, warm from lying on the pillow for much of the last four months. "8-14-20-21."

She smiled and turned back to look at him.  "Do you think we'll win?"

"Yeah, I do," he said, taking her hand and scooting next to her on the bed.  "You deserve it."

They fell asleep, arms wrapped around one another, the window darkened by the returning clouds.

Thomas' eyes opened gently at the sound of the theme song for the evening news.  He looked up from the bed with excitement, momentarily losing the small slip of paper between the sheets.

"Maggie, wake up.  The lottery is starting," he said, almost whispering in her ear.  As his chin touched her cheek, a rush of cold overcame his body.  He looked at her face and touched her hand, her entire body as white and cold as the snow outside the window.  The sound of his tears running down his face drowned out the television.

"Today's numbers are… 8… 14… 20… and 21," the news anchor's voice rang from the corner of the room.  "Congratulations to the lucky person who won today's health care lottery.  Good luck to that person and his or her treatment, and, as always, may you all have good health."

TB.H. Ames authors novels, screenplays, an educational children's series, and is a published poet. He is also an interdisciplinary innovator and inventor.  Contact Thomas.