William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

Writing Exercise: "What do you mean you lost the winning lottery ticket?"

This was an exercise I did for the April 18th meeting of the writer's group at the Sherbrooke Library. Meetings are presently held every second Thursday night at 7pm. Newcomers of any experience level welcome.

"What do you mean you lost the winning lottery ticket?" she said as I rooted around in the office nook. "You must be making one of your attempts at a 'joke'."

This was not good. I hunted through the house in panic. Everything I wanted in the whole world was in that lottery ticket. Oddly enough, upon reflection, it wasn't actually that much worse than losing my car keys, the day I thought I'd dropped them in the snow somewhere. The car is almost as much of a promise as the winning lottery ticket.

My wife Selma was working in the kitchen and gave me a blank stare over her shoulder as I scurried here and there like a very large, maladroit squirrel. She was good at not saying what was on her mind. It didn't take much in the way of clairvoyance to deduce it was something like, "Again? You're such a screw-up, and even when you get lucky you screw it up."

Why was she with me? I wasn't asking myself that at the moment, of course - I'm asking you right now. Though in general, yes, I'm asking myself that all the time. I would describe all the places I was looking for you but you can probably imagine all the couch cushions I'm pulling up, all the bedsheets I'm shaking out, all the beds I'm kneeling or downright falling beside to look under, all the coat pockets I'm digging in, all the pants pockets I'm sticking my hand into... including the ones Selma was currently wearing. She wasn't impressed, but I didn't want to bother her while she was drying the dishes.

Drying the dishes is a very exacting process in our house. Many people just wipe them with a dishtowel but after even just a few dishes it gets greasy and then you start leaving the dishes feeling greasy. Sometimes if I'm in a panic I'll use paper towels, but don't tell Selma. Anyway, what she does is pick them up with tongs and rotate them slowly under a heat lamp. It's a very delicate process and she doesn't like to be disturbed when she's doing it, but I really wanted to find that lottery ticket.

Right. Why was she with me? A long time ago a good friend told me that the person in a relationship who wants it less has most of the control. That, I think, was the case here. She's very precise. Don't let her see this story - I'm not so worried about her knowing the content, it's just that she'll wonder why I'm not using smart quotes and apostrophes and she'll check to see if I'm following some published writer's no-consecutive-paragraphs-shall-begin-with-the-same-letter rule. She also objects to my use of semicolons; she believes I go looking for opportunities to use them. Keep her away! I love you, dear.

I was having no luck finding the ticket, as if all my luck had been used up on the ticket itself. Not that good luck in one place comes at the expense of luck in another; it's unlikely that you'll flip a coin and get ten heads in a row but the chance of getting heads on that tenth flip by itself is still one-half. But I seemed to be getting nothing but tails now.

"Well, you have a year to find it," Selma said as I collapsed on the couch and wrestled some pillows in frustration.

Oh, great. A whole year to fret about where the ticket might be. Just another reason to dread looking at the calendar.

"By the way, did you put the wet clothes in the dryer?"

Oh, no. No. I raced downstairs to the washing machine.

In it were clothes. I pulled out the first pair of blue jeans on top of everything, and... they were dry. And there was a lottery ticket in the back pocket.

Thank goodness! I was awash in relief. Glee followed - I started dancing around the basement, kissing the ticket. Then I went back upstairs.

"It's okay, Selma! I was figuring out how big a wash it would be by putting the clothes in it and then I got distracted!"

She paused. "You mean my clothes aren't even washed yet?"
Tags: exercises, fiction, writing
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