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The International Writers Magazine: Big Winner: From Our Archives

Be Careful what you wish for
Charlotte Francis

6, 12, 40, 36, 10 and 22. The numbers that ruined my life.
So we didn’t have it all. Just a two bed roomed, slightly damp smelling bungalow, meaning the twins had to share a room. Dinner seemed to be whatever was on offer in Tesco’s that week, and we mainly wore Primark’s finest. But I was working and saving, and I had big plans.

One Saturday though, it all changed. The twins were at their dad’s house for the weekend, and I was relaxing at home, drawing up my dream extension complete with a games room for the pair of nine year olds.

Checking the lottery numbers, I almost chocked on my own breath. My fingers were tingling as I dropped the ticket. My mouth was so dry I could feel the spit swirling around inside it. £13 million pounds. I double, triple and quadruple checked, my eyes aching as I refused to waste time blinking. I had just bloody won £13million pounds!
A warmth rushed through my body, and I was on my feet. My mind was racing, and I felt speechless, even though there was nobody around to hear me. Little did I know, the next couple of hours were to be the best few hours for a very long time.

I rang the twins and made Jack bring them home. I rang my parents, my brother, and my three closest friends. I ordered two of everything on the menu from that posh Chinese up town, and started up my rusty, but trusty, Peugeot 106 to buy the most expensive bottles of champagne a little council-flat-filled town had for sale. I had just won the lottery, and I couldn’t believe my luck.
For the next few hours, you couldn’t have wiped the smile off of our faces. I fantasised about a future without work, without a mortgage, and with zero worries.
Only of course it didn’t work out like that did it? Remember my three closest friends? Well that’s three million I wouldn’t see again ever. So my possessions were changing, I was swapping Primark for Prada. Maybe not choosing what I liked, but letting a personal shopper do the thinking for me was less hassle, but I can see now much less fun.

Give me a trip to Peacocks with less than a tenner in my Calvin Klein purse with my Mum any day.
My friends didn’t like it. Being stuck working 9-5 everyday while I was off slurping Cosmopolitans in the most amazing bars. It was making them bitter, and I had better things to be doing then going for our usual instant coffee mornings in a cheap and dingy café on Church Street.
It was true, the priorities I called my own were changing. But I still felt I was me. I still possessed the strong feeling of wanting the best for myself and my children, and there’s nothing wrong with that, right? And so when drifting away from old friends, I felt that settling for my old life when I could have something so spectacular, was ironically a selfish thing to do.

At the time I thought there was no need for Max and Alice to fulfil their doctor and lawyer ambitions now that we had so much money, so I persisted in pulling them out of school for ski holidays with my new friends anyway. It didn’t occur to me that these ambitions they possessed might not have been for purely financial reasons. Perhaps, just perhaps they might have enjoyed such occupations and been successful.
It did eventually hit me though. A couple of weeks after our umpteenth ski holiday since the win. Like a double-decker, gold plated, diamond encrusted bus, realisation of the past few years flashed before me.

It only took one phone call for my feet to slam back down to planet earth. Cancer. Funny how after you hear that one word, the rest of the sentence just vanishes. My mum had fucking cancer.

Crying, I called up one of my new friends only to put through to their butlers before hanging up. Looking around my mansion, watching the gardener weeding around the pool from a beautiful bay window, I felt physically sick.

Calling up the bank, checking all of my accounts (something I’d made a habit of doing every morning to keep me smiling), I knew I had £6.7 million left. Only this time, the figure actually made me sick. I rang the number on the webpage. Shaking, and feeling so incredibly foolish.
“Is this cancer research?” I asked, fighting back more selfish tears, feeling the blood drain from my face in disgust. “Good. Because I would like make a rather large anonymous donation”

© Charlotte Francis November 2008
Charlotte is a graduate of Portsmouth University

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