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Splitting the Lottery
by Peter McMillan

As soon as the numbers flashed on the screen, I screamed and dashed out of my cube to the elevators. 13-40-63-2-18-39, 13-40-63-2-18-39, 13-40-63-2-18-39, those were my numbers, alright. But I had to get home, fast, and find my ticket.

Ever since Leslie moved in, I've had to find a different hiding spot each week. We get along, I suppose, mostly because we never see each other. But there's something about Leslie I don't trust. Recently, my browser history has been erased twice that I know of, and I never do that. Somebody's also been going through my mail. I have to keep an eye on Leslie. All my meds are now locked up in my desk at work.

I grabbed the first cab, bright yellow with 1340 painted on the side. 1340, 1340, 1340 stuck in my head and it took me a minute to remember to give the driver my address — 1839 Lawrence West. All of a sudden, the middle numbers were coming up blank.

1340, something, something, something 1839 — the swarm of possible numbers swirled in my head. A deep breath and I leaned over the front seat to see how much further, then Cliff — and he looked like a Cliff — barked into the rearview mirror, "Hey, putcher seat belt on or I'm gonna pull over. Wanna make trouble or somethin? Cop sees that-n-I'm—"

That was enough distraction to get to my place, where I dropped a fifty on the front seat — magnanimity, I was going to love it — jumped out of the car, and raced to the front door. I'd left my key at the office — stupid! — but old lady Smithson was always home and she'd buzz me in. She lived for the buzzer and often heard it.

When she answered, I shouted into the speaker. I always say it's Leslie. She likes Leslie, and it's kinda funny, because she thinks I'm saying, "Wesley." That's her son she hasn't seen in years. Not my problem though.

This time of day, the ankle biters and slackers are napping, so I caught an empty elevator to the 7th floor and was at my door ... sans keys. Duh! Luckily, I hadn't left my cell at work, so I phoned the super, who, more good luck for me, was on 6 finishing up with Miss Rossi.

After agonizing minutes, I was in my apartment trying to recall where I'd put that damn ticket. Couldn't be in my Play— No, first place Leslie would've looked. The Hemingway — Mariel, not the other one — under the TV guide? No, that was last month. Taped to the back of my dresser? Hadn't tried that yet. In the freezer behind the ice trays? Done that. Underneath the bottom plate in the kitchen cabinet? Not sure, so I checked. Nope. Inside the vent cover behind the headboard? Too much heavy lifting and way too dusty. Wouldn't have bothered. The bathroom? Maybe, but where?

When I opened the door to the bathroom, the toilet was lying on its side. On the mirror in red lipstick, '13-40-63-2-18-39' with '63-2' double underlined. Sixty-three square feet — the area I counted every morning after too much dairy. Now I remembered. But how would Leslie have known? And that red … that wasn't Leslie's. It was mine and it's still in my purse.