International Writers Magazine: Big Winner:
Careful what you wish for
12, 40, 36, 10 and 22. The numbers that ruined my life.
So we didnt 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 Tescos that week, and
we mainly wore Primarks finest. But I was working and saving,
and I had big plans.
One Saturday though,
it all changed. The twins were at their dads 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 on teletext, I almost chocked on my own
breath. My fingers were tingling as I dropped the ticket, the TV behind
the teletext seemed to silence, and 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 couldnt believe my luck.
For the next few hours, you couldnt 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 didnt work out like that did it? Remember my
three closest friends? Well thats three million I wouldnt
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
Give me a trip to Peacocks with less than a tenner in my Calvin
Klean purse with my Mum down any day.
My friends didnt 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
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 theres 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 didnt 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
Calling up the bank, checking all of my accounts (something Id
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
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
Francis November 2008
Charlotte is studying
for her degree in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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