Number twelve in the series of Flash Fiction challenges.
L is for Luck
People have made many appeals to luck throughout history. Whether it’s a gambler blowing on the dice before a crucial roll, a sports fan wearing the same pair of socks to every match, or a lottery ticket with your loved ones’ birthdays picked out, we know luck plays a vital part in our lives.
At the same time, we don’t like to believe that anything might be outside of our control. Nobody wants to consider that their successes are down to anything other than their own hard work, but will gladly concede that their failures can always be pinned on bad fortune.
Sometimes personified as ‘Lady Luck’, known as Fortuna in Roman times or as Tyche to the Greeks she can be a fickle goddess. The sheer number of items or actions in mythology that pertain to good or bad luck is overwhelming. Just in British folklore we might imbue horseshoes, four-leaved clovers, wishbones, heather, chimney sweeps, rabbits’ feet or black cats with good luck, while the poor cat also gets lumped in to the bad luck category along with breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder, spilling salt or putting shoes on a table. Interesting that the omens of bad luck are almost always things you do, suggesting you somehow deserved your ill fortune…
L is for Luck
He ran the numbers in his head, trying to tune out the cacophany of ringing bells and showering coins from the slot machines lining the walls. Was his count at two, or three? Did it matter? Basic strategy said to hold, but so many high cards had burned on the last hand that he might be able to risk one more card.
The squeal of another drunken bachelorette at the next table derailed his thoughts. He closed his eyes, shuffled his feet on the sticky carpet, shifted on the under-padded stool. When he opened his eyes the dealer was staring at him. Not impatient, not suspicious, just bored.
In Vegas, they smiled.
“Come on man,” the guy next to him slurred. “I’m on a hot streak.”
The dealer’s hand showed a ten. Worst case, he reasoned. His mouth was dry.
In Vegas, they’d be bringing him another free drink.
Not worth the risk, he thought, and rubbed the rabbit’s foot in his pocket. Wasn’t lucky for you, he thought, but I need any edge I can get.
His eyes tunneled into the card on top, ink worn away by hand after hand revealing the shattered dreams beneath. If that was a four or less…
The penny he’d tucked into his shoe dug into his heel. Surely it was his time now, he couldn’t lose again, he was due. He didn’t just want this, he needed it.
“Hit me,” he croaked, and closed his eyes again.
Time stood still, the sounds around the casino faded into the peeling wallpaper, and he held his breath. Someone say something, he pleaded in his head.
“Twenty one,” said the dealer.
In Vegas they’d have kicked him out.
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