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Thursday, November 12, 2009

What if?

“Damn it, where is it!” she cursed softly, reaching into the bulging leather of her designer Coach knock-off.

Probing the bottom, her fingers wrapped around a dried up tube of Lancôme Champaign pink, and a wrinkled grocery receipt dated October, 2007. Boneless chicken was on sale that day.

Crumbling the sales slip and tossing aside the lipstick, she reached into the bag again. “It’s gotta be in here,” she muttered, feeling for her wallet in a side pocket. Rifling through, she found seven dollars, a quarter, exactly thirteen pennies and a dry cleaner receipt—“Oh, that’s where my linen blouse is. Who cares? I’ll buy ten new blouses. Come on, come on,” she moaned, opening an inside pocket. Pursing her lips, the old Girl Scout phrase: “Be prepared” drifted through her mind. “Well I sure am,” she thought, as she placed the unused plastic contact lens case on the counter beside her old eyeglasses. Pushing her current half-rimmed frames up on her nose, she smirked at herself, “Good thing. You never know after all, when you might be ‘blindsided’—ha, ha.”

Purse pocket number two revealed her cell phone, mercifully turned off, two chap sticks, a pay stub, hand disinfectant and a small bottle of aspirin.

Digging through another interior pocket, she yanked out a hairbrush, eyeliner—burnt umber—ugh—hadn’t used that color in years—and her pocket calendar. Leafing through the calendar, she noted the bold red print on today’s date. “Check lottery ticket.”

“Got that right anyway. Oh why do these purses have so many pockets?” Reaching into a zippered compartment, she emptied out a mirror, a stale pack of Juicy Fruit, two crumpled tissues and a scrap of paper with a color code for a paint intended for the dining room scribbled on it.

Turning the purse over and shaking it, she winced as a compact umbrella landed next to the rest of her bounty. An additional thirty-seven cents plus an unwrapped breath mint rolled to the edge of the counter where the lottery clerk leaned. “I know it is here. I know it is. I had it just before I came in.”

“That’s fine lady, but it’s not going to do you any good, if I can’t see it.”

Burrowing to the bottom of the purse, she plucked at the lining, pulling it inside out. “It was here, I saw it. I compared the numbers with the newspaper. I know I have it.”

The clerk raised one eyebrow.

Sweat beaded under her arms as she pawed through the pile on the counter. “This cannot be happening to me. I’m not crazy. I took the ticket out this morning. I signed the back. I sent the kids off to school. I put on my jacket. I drove down here. Where could it have gone in the meantime?”

“Maybe right there?” the clerk responded, pointing to a folded corner of paper sticking out of the breast pocket of her navy windbreaker.

“YES!” She cried, grabbing at her coat. There it was—the lottery ticket containing the numbers 5, 7, 8, 15, 22, and 28—representing the combined birthdays of her children. Grinning, she held it up next to the sign indicating the matching numbers of the previous day’s Mega Million lottery:

Pay out $2,456,327.00.

“I knew I wasn’t crazy!”

“No, you’re not crazy,” the clerk said unfolding the ticket. “But you are calendar-challenged. This ticket is for last week’s game.”


glnroz said...

I 'bout got wore out waiting and wondering what you were looking for.. That was a "good'un".. :)

Sharon said...

I think I own that very same purse, with the very same contents. This was great! I couldn't stop reading.

Tabitha Bird said...

Oh damn. I'd be spitting chips if that were me! Great work Liza.

Tamika: said...

You had me on the edge of my seat! My heart leaped when she found the ticket. Then plunged into despair at her mistake. Thanks for a great roller coaster ride.

Ginger B. (Barbara) Collins said...

It was a heartbreaker! I had no idea what she was looking for but I was right there with her every second. Great work!

Ginger B.

Liza said...

Thanks all for your comments. If you happen to catch this comment, would you mind if I ask a question? I am wondering if the end of this is like a cop out...similar to: "She woke up and it was all a dream." Is it too contrived? Might I ask you to share your thoughts on that? Thanks!