How many of us are tempted to buy a lottery ticket...?*
Sometimes It Happens
a story, based on the novel, especially written for Discovering Diamonds
Doreen glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall and groaned, she was running late again and she still needed to pick up a packet of fags. No way could she face cleaning the office that was her employment without her tobacco fix. Just thinking about her job plunged Doreen’s, low spirits into free fall. She shrugged at the inevitable of having to work and reached over the counter top and turned off the radio.
‘Blimey,’ she cried as her neighbour’s TV filled her quiet flat with loud voices. With the palm of her hand, she banged on the wall.
‘Turn that volume down,’ she called. It was a waste of time, the noise continued.
She groaned, it didn’t matter right now, her girl was at school and she was off to work.
Heading towards the hall, she imagined the old boy next door slouched in his chair, a roll up dangling from his bottom lip and ash peppered over his threadbare cardigan. God only knows how old he is, she thought, and guessed he must be pushing eighty if a day. A soft giggle escaped her lips at how the dirty old devil liked to leer at her, not that she wore anything special, market bought jeans and tops, but it seemed to fuel his imagination. Despite his winkled old face, stooped walk and being almost toothless, she could see through the ravages of age and guessed he was probably a looker in his younger days.
Age can be cruel, she thought and pulled her jacket from the peg on the hall wall and slipped it on. Turning, she checked her face in the wall mirror and scowled, ‘Blimey Dor you might only be in your mid-thirties, but today you look like poor old Jack next door, well past your prime!’ She tutted at her reflection and with more effort than necessary slipped her bag over her shoulder.
Stepping out onto the landing, Jack’s TV could still be heard, ‘Deaf as a post these days,’ she grumbled and at the same time saw a blue balloon tied to his door handle. “Happy Birthday,” it read bobbing in the breeze on its flimsy ribbon. A card hung half way out of the letterbox. So old Jack's a birthday boy today, she thought and chuckled. He wasn’t a bad neighbour and he’d always seen her right when she’d done a bit of shopping for him, slipping her the odd quid for her trouble. The least she could do was get him a card, after all it was the end of the week and she’d be paid today. The thought of it being Friday lightened her step as she headed towards the stairs.
With haste she ran down the litter-strewn steps and it occurred to her that she could bake the old boy a cake for his birthday. She knew he loved chocolate. If she used the cheap cake brand stuff then she’d be able to afford to cover it. She smiled at the idea of making his day a little special and then grimaced at what her daughter would have to say.
‘What would an old man want with a cake?’ Trisha would cry with scorn and like all sixteen year olds, her daughter thought the planet revolved around her and her generation. Perhaps she’d make two to keep her gal happy? With this thought she quickened her step and headed towards Mr Greedy’s corner shop.
Stepping into the dingy shop, the overhead bell tinkled announcing Doreen’s arrival. Instantly her nostrils filled with a stale acrid smell and she ran the back of her hand across her nose in an attempt to deflect the odour. She wondered what Mr Greedy had on the rickety shelves and worse, what their sell-by-dates were. She swallowed and recalled picking up a jar of marmalade and seeing 1066 printed on the lid, she hadn’t been sure if it was the sell-by-date or something to do with the seaside town on the south coast. Her Trisha had once told her, at length, during one of her homework sessions about some carry on there. Hastings, Trisha had said and she’d only remembered about it because as a kid she’d had a day at the seaside there - not that she’d seen any evidence of a battle or even a skirmish. She’d said something about this visit to Trisha who’d erupted into hysterical laughter.
‘Oh my God Mama you are just so unreal.’
Her daughter might laugh at her ignorance, but there was no doubt, as her mother, she was so proud of her. Her gal was the apple of her eye and very brainy, she’d even passed exams and now went to a posh school. How she’d given birth to such a clever gal never ceased to amaze her, but she loved her to bits.
Now as she looked around the shabby shop, and not for the first time, wished she could shop somewhere else, but Mr Greedy’s was the only store in the neighbourhood, and on the estate, that allowed her to have stuff on the slate. She’d never survive from one week to another without it. Gazing around at the mismatch of jars and packets, her revere broken as the shop owner appeared in front of her.
“Morning Doreen, let me guess what I can do for you today,’ Mr Greedy said, a beaming smile filling his pointed, clean shaven, face.
Doreen glared at him and wondered if she would one day find the courage to tell him what he could do for her, instead she restrained herself and forced a giggle, ‘I’d like to win the lottery so I could shop in a posh place,’ she said loudly and as the words left her lips she imagined herself sashaying into stores like Fortnum and Mason and buying everything she fancied; no slate nor worrying about paying it back at the end of the week. For a brief moment she let herself dream. The sound of a heavy box landing on the floor a few feet away, brought her back to reality with a jolt and she realised she couldn’t even afford to look around the food hall in M & S.
‘And wouldn’t we all,’ Mr Greedy said leaving the box in the middle of the aisle and strolling over to the lottery till, ‘but like most of us, having the chance to win means you have to buy a ticket,’ he added, his white teeth flashed as he pointed to a pile of lottery tickets in a glass cabinet. Doreen stared at them and wondered if he got commission for the sales because he was always banging on about her buying one.
‘People like me don’t win, so I’m not throwing my money away, but I’ll have my usual packet of fags,’ she said and wished she’d kept her mouth shut about the lottery.
Mr Greedy tutted, ‘They’ll kill you in the end,’ he said placing a packet on the counter.
‘So will old age,’ she replied smirking and knowing she should cut back on her fags. Maybe next week she’d give it up, she told herself as she did every time she bought a packet. ‘Oh and I need a birthday card,’ she added turning to look for the shelf where they were displayed.
‘Over there,’ Mr Greedy pointed at a stack of cards on top of an unopened box.
Doreen strode over to the pile and rifled through them. She took a deep breath of exasperation it seemed there was every card you could think of, but nothing suitable for an old man’s birthday. About to give up she spied a card on the floor. Bending down she picked it up.
‘Blimey,’ she said and giggled, ‘perfect.’
Standing up she read the words out loud, ‘Happy Birthday to a Diamond Geezer,’ she chuckled and took the card over to the till. Feeling bolstered with her find, she decided she would buy a lottery ticket. Maybe it was her lucky day after all. ‘Go on then, you’ve talked me into it, I’ll have a lottery ticket, but if I don’t win, I’ll be back for me quid.’
Mr Greedy rolled his eyes and handed Doreen her ticket. ‘Just put your lucky numbers down,’ he said handing over a pen.
Taking the pen she couldn’t think of any numbers in her life that had been lucky, maybe she shouldn’t bother. About to save herself a pound, she looked up at Mr Greedy and seeing his smug expression she scribbled down the only numbers she could think off then handed the ticket back.
‘Good luck, Doreen,’ Mr Greedy purred taking her money.
‘Mmm,’ she said pushing the fags and ticket into her bag, what had she been thinking about, wasting her money on a lottery ticket, she just might as well as dropped the coin down the drain for all the good it would do.
Clutching the birthday card she opened it and read the words inside, she stifled a giggle. A miserable old sod he might be, but as neighbours go on her estate, he was as the card said, a Discovered Diamond.
She tucked the card into her bag and with a broad smile hurried off to work.
© Pauline Barclay
A HUGE special thank you Helen for having me here for this special Christmas Diamond Blog and a big thank you for stopping by and reading my Discovered Diamond, story.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas.Pauline
You can find out all about Doreen and her daughter, and if her lottery ticket really did have lucky numbers, in the full story of Sometimes It Happens…. Click Here
You can find out more about Pauline and her books at…
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Pauline is also the founder of Chill with a Book Awards
* Did you notice the asterisk at the top? I thought readers might like to know that it is possible to achieve your dream because of a lottery win - I did! My husband's winning lottery raffle ticket number came up on the opening night of the Olympics in London. As a consequence we escaped London and now live in an eighteenth century farmhouse, surrounded by thirteen acres of the North Devon countryside! So yes, Sometimes it does happen!
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