Week 34

One million dollars. The number one with six zeros after it.
Hannah blinked several times and turned away from the computer screen. When she turned back all those zeros were still there.
She’d won! After playing her six favourite numbers week in, week out, for seventeen years, they finally came up.
One million dollars.
It was hard to fathom having that much money, yet here it was, about to be deposited in her bank account.
Possibilities suddenly became reality – paying off the mortgage, the kids’ student loans, the car, the credit card… A holiday and gifts for friends and family. It was a dream.
Heart quickening, head swimming in thoughts of luxury, Hannah nearly passed out at her desk.
Instead she did her best to compose herself long enough to click the “OK” button and “Accept”, which sent the money to her nominated account.
She, Hannah, was now a millionaire!
Hannah could feel the corners of her mouth pulling wide across her face. Her face began to hurt from smiling but there was no way she could stop.
She closed the Lottery tab and stood up. As Hannah looked around her small home she felt the excitement building inside her. Was it real? Was it really real?
Hannah walked over to the kitchen, grabbed a glass from the cupboard and held it under the tap. She hesitated just a moment before wondering what she was doing.
“Water? I’m a millionaire! Where’s the bubbles?” she crossed over to the small liquor cabinet in the lounge. It hadn’t been opened since her ex-husband moved into his own place last year. An even wider smile formed across her face and she realised how jealous he would be! This was pure glee!
There wasn’t as much alcohol as she remembered and not much to her taste. Certainly there was no champagne.
She pulled out a bottle of vodka instead and poured a cap-full into her glass, drinking it down in one swallow.
It may have burnt her throat but at least it already seemed to be calming her nerves.
One million.
One million dollars.
Hannah returned to the computer – the empty glass in one hand, the vodka bottle in the other – and opened a new tab. This time, her bank.
After three security steps it finally brought up her new grand total of…
$11,842.09
Wait? What? Her smile faltered.
She read the numbers again. Eleven thousand, eight hundred and two dollars, and nine lousy cents.
Something has gone wrong. Someone has gotten to her money first! Her ex? How could he have known?
No – a banking error. Surely.
Another pour of vodka, another quick shot, and Hannah’s stomach felt like someone had scooped out the insides.
She re-opened the Lottery tab, signed back in, and checked past tickets.
There they were. The six zeros she had so quickly fallen in love with, and the decimal point she had somehow missed.
$10000.00
Ten thousand dollars. Not one million.
As her dreams of luxury disappeared, a new warmth entered her. Enough to ease the mortgage. Enough to pay off the credit card. Enough for a short trip. Hannah smiled again.
It may not be a million, be it was certainly more than enough.

Week 33

Reds, oranges, and yellows burn from the walls, intended to wake the occupants at just the right moment in their sleep cycle. Michael’s body is still heavy with the night’s dreams and he struggles against letting them go. Even though it didn’t totally make sense, he was enjoying the train ride with winged creatures and felt a new adventure was about to begin. But as soon as his eyes are open, the dream evaporates and the reality of today’s depression sets in.
Michael swings his legs over the side of the bed as the walls ease to a light yellow, and takes six short steps towards the black circle on the floor. As soon as both feet are flat on it, a circular wall encloses him. The space left inside for Michael is wide enough for him to stretch his arms out wide, and rises from floor to ceiling. Water and soap then rushes down on him, and once he is clean, the water is replaced by hot air to dry him.
As the cylinder retracts and he is standing in the open space of his bedroom again, Michael thinks over the day’s schedule and lines form across his forehead.
On the wall behind him is an empty closet. Not for long. He touches the screen on the door and an image of himself appears in bright red underwear. He taps the screen several times until a pair that are plain black appear instead. He taps a green tick in the corner and goes through a similar process until he can find a plain black suit. Black tie. Black socks. Black shoes. No hat.
When complete, the screen spins the image of this well-dressed version of Michael before flashing the question “finished?” He feels a stab in his chest before again selecting the green tick. Michael pulls open the closet door and the clothes he selected are on the shelves.
Standing in front of his mirror, Michael looks ready for the ceremony but feels far from prepared.

Week 32

Once upon a time in castle far, far away, there lived a Prince who was very sad.
He was sad because he had been told he must marry before his thirtieth birthday or be cast out from the Kingdom.
His birthday was just weeks away and the Royal Law was clear. He had to find a Prince or Princess to wed! After all, he had been brought up in luxury and was not sure how he would fare without the royal lifestyle he was accustomed to.
“Well it’s silly just sitting here,” the Prince said to himself. “There could be dozens of Princes and Princesses waiting for me outside of this castle!”
And so he donned a feathered hat and his best walking boots, and set out for a stroll around the Royal Grounds in the hope of meeting someone to fall in love with.
As The Prince walked across the fields he smiled at the beauty that surrounded him. The tall trees, the singing birds – all of this would be his… if only he could meet someone.
His smile quickly disappeared.
The Prince came across a bridge, standing wide over a curving river. As he began to walk across it, he saw something shimmer in the water below.
He stopped in his tracks, peered over the edge and called out “Who’s there?”
But all he could see was his own image! The Prince was sure that was not what caught his eye. In fact, the Prince already imagined a beautiful Princess to be trapped beneath the water – one that he could rescue and live happily ever after with!
So the Prince leaned over the bridge. He leaned so far… the Prince toppled into the water below!
And the water swallowed the Prince whole. Only his feathered hat was ever found.
The Kingdom mourned the loss of their Prince and on what would have been his thirtieth birthday, they tore up the Royal Law that would have cast him out of the Kingdom had he stayed single and alone… but alive.