The prompt: You have 500 words to write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, which includes the phrase “to the moon.”
Now showing my age, I have to admit the first thing that popped into my head was “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason, where Ralph Kramden says to his wife Alice, “You are going straight to the moon, Alice.” However I couldn’t work that into anything helpful.
While I was trying to figure out what to write I pulled a bunch of books out of the shelves and read the first lines. One of them struck a chord and something flowed from it. I didn’t use that person’s line, but it was enough to send my creative juices flowing.
500 words seemed like a lot when I started and then once I got to writing I found that it wasn’t enough so I spent last night during my sleepless hours tweaking it down to about 496 words according to the word counter. This is my finished version.
The Lottery Ticket
By Teresa Smeigh
The wind whistled loudly down the alley and Tim Ryan tried unsuccessfully to turn up his collar to protect his neck and ears. He should have dressed warmer. He didn’t even have gloves or a hat. He couldn’t leave to go get them either because the line behind him was growing rapidly.
He had been daydreaming ever since they announced on the morning news that they were holding a special lottery at midnight. A lottery where you didn’t have to purchase a ticket. Only so many tickets would be handed out, but they wouldn’t announce how many they were going to hand out. You had to be there to win. They weren’t even going to announce the prize ahead of time, but they promised that it was a once-in-a-lifetime prize.
Tim Ryan was down on his luck. His ex-wife was demanding her alimony and he didn’t have it. She was threatening to report him and get him thrown in jail for not paying his support. He had lost his job a few weeks ago and hadn’t been able to find a new one yet, but being in jail wasn’t going to help. Surely she had to see that? He knew this lottery just had to be the answer to all of his problems. He would do anything to get her off his back.
So here he was, standing in a freezing alley with hundreds of others. He had hurried to the drawing spot as soon as he had heard the announcement. He just knew that the place would be packed. He noticed that the line was getting even longer behind him.
Tim was jumping around trying to keep warm. He certainly hoped that the prize was worth all of this. He was cold and tired. He had to stay alert to make sure no one jumped the line. This prize just had to be his.
The clock tower struck midnight and the crowd quieted down expectantly. The announcer stood on the back of a flat bed truck and spoke into his microphone telling everyone to stay in a straight line and begin moving towards him and take an envelope, but they were not to open it yet. The line would continue to move until all envelopes had been handed out.
Tim followed the line in front of him. Finally he was close enough to see that they still had a pile of envelopes. He was going to get one. He was told to move over with the others. Once the last envelope was given out, the announcer wished them luck and told them that the winner would know what their prize was when they opened the envelope, there were 99 blank tickets and one prize, but not to open it until he said “go!”
Once the announcer yelled “go” the crowd ripped open their envelopes. Tim ripped his open and his mouth fell open. Printed on his ticket was “ONE-WAY FLIGHT TO THE MOON.”