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The Megaball Slip

by Noah Madrigal 11 months ago in humanity

Lucky Break

23, 32, 61, 53, 68, 19
5, 14, 21, 66, 27, 10
41, 56, 63, 12, 59, 22
64, 3, 45, 11, 47, 20
17, 36, 62, 29, 8, 3

Antonio jotted the numbers swiftly down onto the next fresh, blank page of his small, black notebook which was gifted to him by his AP English literature teacher. He befriended his teacher, Mr. Robertson, and bonded with him over his love & passion towards writing. Mr. Robertson gave Antonio the notebook at the end of class one day, as a little surprise, since earlier that week he admitted how he developed a habit of writing everything on his phone, for which he jokingly scolded him for.

Antonio tried switching to it ever since, and didn’t take long for him to get the hang of it, while Mr. Robertson made sure to constantly point out and congratulate him on the improvements in his handwriting, since that was one of his motivations for gifting the notebook in the first place.
Antonio noticed it seemed like he had less trouble thinking about what he wanted to write when writing in the notebook as opposed to using his phone, and how he wanted to approach it, requiring way less effort to move thought to reality. Antonio didn’t think much of it, and just chalked it up as being about concentration, there were far less distractions focusing on a static page than one he could just swipe to change to something else to entirely capture his attention.

After getting the notebook one day, as he was washing the dishes after dinner, Antonio’s father asked him to participate in playing the lottery for the first time since he was now sixteen. The lottery was big in their house, both of Antonio’s parents played it religiously, the day of the drawing was like their family’s Superbowl. He didn’t share the sentiment though, Antonio didn’t ever pay much care towards the whole thing, no way they would ever win, he thought.

Due to knowing how important it was to his parents though, Antonio decided to try and take it seriously. Legally, as he was a minor, he wasn’t technically allowed to do the lottery or buy the ticket. However, his dad bought the ticket, would be the one to return it, and his chances were astronomically low in the first place.
Antonio indulged his parents this time, it was special, his younger brother and sister, Xavier & Luisa couldn’t so he was thrilled. They were eleven and thirteen respectively, so wouldn’t have been actually able or interested in it, but they might’ve whined & complained about the prospect of not being able to help with it if they knew, even if they would’ve been greatly confused or just bored of it altogether upon actually trying.

His dad, Guillermo, had explained how to do it, “It’s kind of simple, really, you only need to choose six numbers each. There are five chances per slip, so you have five groups of six numbers to fill out.
“The first five numbers on each are for the regular balls which get drawn, for those you choose any number from one to sixty-eight. For the last, ultra-ball, you choose from one to twenty-four.

“Pretty much all to it, just have to think about what numbers you’re going to pick. That’s Megaball! Thank you for playing for us, it means a lot, you know how important it is for your mother and I.

“I wanted you to try because I think you’re old enough now to get a taste of it, and it’s not like I let you drink or anything, what’s the harm? You’re only picking numbers.”

He laughed, and Antonio laughed out of force, to show enthusiasm, even though he was nervous & otherwise didn’t really like the idea of it. It wasn’t something he would enjoy or really saw the point of, and every single year his parents make a point to buy many slips, though they’ve never won anything. In a way though, he admired their persistence, and they at least had continued hope, who was he to stop them from it.
Guillermo let his son know he would drop all their slips off early the next morning, so he had to give him his later that night, before he went to bed. Marie cheered Antonio on, “Go Antonio! First time trying the Megaball, love you! Make us proud.” Before he left to his room to tackle the number game.

When he was in his room with slip in hand, Antonio tried to concentrate. He wanted to make sure he did his best for his parents, so he took some time to think about it. All the endless possibilities then hit his head, however. So many possible choices, so many combinations, it was unfathomable. He stressed himself out about it, and gave himself a headache.

He sat himself down at his desk in order to think, because he realized he was unconsciously pacing about the room. Then he thought, he could just take it easy, calm down a bit, and simply start out by writing everything in his notebook first. The idea gave him some relief, so did just that. Antonio then wrote it all down after thinking for another brief moment.
It all started flowing out from him thereafter, almost like cutting through butter, all from his head to lead with ease. Another one for the notebook, he’d have to thank Mr. Robertson again for it the next time he saw him, after the weekend was over. When he was satisfied with his choices, took a quick pause to think about which sets of numbers he felt good about picking to go on the slip.

Finally, he settled on five he was happy with, the last ones including the numbers: seventeen, thirty-six, sixty-two, twenty-nine, eight, and lastly; his lucky number, three. Had to include his lucky number, of course. It was obligatory. He walked out of the room and gave his dad the slip, said goodnight to both parents, then went to bed.

As time went on, and a couple weeks passed, Antonio forgot all about the Megaball. It got buried deep under a lot of class worries, which were way more pressing to him. It completely escaped his mind all the way up until his dad picked all the kids up from school on a Tuesday, and shouted out in excitement it was that night. His siblings of course cheered, they relished the spectacle, it was a little special occasion to them.

Every year, every drawing, they watched it as a family and celebrated with chips, dip, and soda. A true family staple, never grew tired of it, even if never winning. They all gathered and crowded on the single sofa which couldn’t hold all of them, so some piled on both armrests on either side. The family loved to shout & cheer; they loved the whole thing; and even if they never won themselves, they made sure to express & think about the fact someone somewhere did win, and their life was then changed forever. At least rejoiced in that.

This time, Antonio took his notebook with him when he sat down to pass the time, not feeling very interested when it started. He got distracted, and wasn’t paying attention to what the announcer was saying until, “..thirty-six, the next number looks to be sixty-two..” Antonio froze, and was filled with astonishment. Those were his numbers being called, he was sure of it! He immediately ditched his pencil then flipped quickly back through the pages until he found the page with the Megaball numbers on it.

“The last two are twenty-nine and eight!”
“..And now finally folks, the Ultra-ball number for this drawing is three! Congratulations to the lucky..”
Antonio didn’t let the announcer finish his last remarks; he dropped his notebook, stood up with his mouth held open, then started jumping crazily and lost it. “Oh my god, those were my numbers! My numbers! I got four and the Ultra-ball!”

He may not have got the monumental prize, but matching four numbers along with the special Ultra-ball, he had won twenty thousand dollars. He kept freaking out, and couldn’t believe it. His parents were in a state of disbelief most of all, his dad fell to his knees & yelled out of exhilaration. Marie held her hand tightly to her mouth out of such surprise, and shook, couldn’t help but express audible bewilderment.

“I can’t believe it! You almost got the big jackpot! Oh my, you’ve won!” Guillermo expressed out of immense amazement.
“Your first time! We’ve been doing this tradition for years and never even managed to match a single one! How lucky you are! What are you going to do with the money?” his mother let out in a thrilled voice. Antonio paused and went silent for a second, he never thought about that, never expected this at all.

It was a no-brainer, really. The money wasn’t his to claim, it was his father’s ticket, after all. Even if he didn’t have to think about it like that, he did. Sure, he had numerous dreams and could picture various outrageous uses for it, but he didn’t need the money yet. He wasn’t the one the money should go to, there was a big reason why his parents were so engulfed in this fixation with the lottery, it’s because they needed it.
They were a working-class family, his dad worked in a labor-intensive factory, and his mom was a librarian. Both parents both constantly severely struggled to keep up with bills and to put food on the table, and on top of that, his father was trying to pay off medical bills from his knee surgery from a few months before. The choice was clear, he had made up his mind.

“I..I think it should go to you guys, not me, you need it way more than I do. And plus, it was your idea in the first place, dad, I never even wanted to. It could really help with the bills, I know how much you guys struggle to keep us afloat, and how much of a toll it takes on you.

“This would help so unbelievably much, and it’s exactly what you hoped for! Of course I’m giving it to you, it’s yours, I won’t let you argue. Let me do this for you, please!” Antonio stood his ground, and looked both parents in the eyes, now standing in front of the tv.

His siblings had been going insane running back & forth around the room, screaming out of excitement. They couldn’t even process what had just occurred. Antonio’s parents didn’t know what to say, but they were so unbelievably ecstatic, that was for sure. “No, how could we possibly do that, it’s yours! You won it! But my boy, I’m so proud of you for even thinking like that,” Guillermo said.
“Are you sure? Shouldn’t it be yours? This wouldn’t be right!” Marie exclaimed.

Antonio didn’t budge. How could he, he believed that it was the right thing to do, and wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Eventually, he managed to get his parents to agree only if they had to make sure to store some money left from pressing expenses in a savings account for Antonio. He deserved something, and they would see to it that he had something for college or whatever he chose to do with it.
Obviously, they wouldn’t feel right about the whole thing otherwise. Twenty thousand dollars was a huge amount to them, it meant they didn’t have to worry so much about living paycheck to paycheck uncomfortably like it has been. No one could still believe it, those numbers in his notebook, their greatest win. He made sure to embrace his parents closely & tightly for what felt like forever, all shedding tears of profound happiness. No one could contain themselves that night.

humanity

Noah Madrigal

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