The Lottery Winner
by Tiffany King
Ben leaned heavily on the handrail of the escalator as he rode to the second floor jewelry department. A woman’s voice crooned “Silver Bells” over the sound system, mixing with the hollow clang of the Salvation Army bell. The thought rushed into his mind that this could be his last Christmas.
He slammed his fist onto the handrail, causing the woman in front of him to jump. Why did he have to leave behind all his hopes and plans? How could he ask Karen to marry him when his future was so uncertain? All for some war half way around the world, which he didn’t even understand. When he watched the television broadcast of the draft lottery a few nights ago, he knew he would see his own birth date drawn out, but when it was the first date called he felt it like a blow to his chest. The air rushed out of his lungs and he hadn’t been able to fill them since.
Now he stepped off the escalator and found himself looking into a case of gold lockets. A heart shaped locket with filigree etched into the gold caught his eye. It would be something for Karen to remember him by. A morbid thought.
“May I help you?” a young woman asked.
Ben wavered a second before asking, “May I see the engagement rings?” He couldn’t leave for Vietnam without knowing Karen loved him enough to wait. Her promise would give him the will to survive.