She had caught the vaguest scent of the winds of change long before they had begun to blow. It was no surprise, then, when they arrived in earnest and her world began to spin, and then her world began to crumble around her. The devastating death of her familiar had shut her heart firmly against the possibility of further pain, and as event after event showed her more and more clearly the direction in which she was to head, she found herself moving towards it without hesitation.
For several weeks now, she had been actively searching for a new house. The one that best suited her needs and the one she wanted the most remained just out of reach, however, and now, cash poor, she cursed her lifelong habit of financial generosity. But it was what it was, she told herself; though no longer quite such an optimist, she still had faith she would end up exactly where she most needed to be.
And so it was that despite the utter, aching exhaustion of having worked an ungodly number of hours this particular week, the evening found her feeling rather happy. It was a quiet kind of happiness she hadn’t felt in a long time; if pressed to explain it, she would say it was as if great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. A great weight she hadn’t even known she’d been carrying. But she knew its source. She had made the decision to sell a valuable piece of old jewelry and had just sent it on its way to be repaired before being put up for auction. An auction that would be one of the financial keys to a new home.
She had felt little more than simple resignation for so long now that the evening’s touch of happy anticipation caused her to wonder if it might not be time to check the numbers of the little stack of lottery tickets sitting next to her computer. She bought them quite regularly, just one ticket containing one randomly-chosen number, but had fallen into the habit of simply setting them aside, ignoring the results of the weekly drawings. It had finally dawned on her that she preferred the possibility that she might be sitting on a small windfall rather than face the reality of seeing her dollar had been wasted.
One of her friends had recently teased her about it; reminding her that if she was holding a winner her life could become just as she wished, with no more worrying about how to pay the bills each month and no more aggravation from the demanding job at which they had met. She had explained her reasoning but laughingly agreed that it was rather stupid, for how much grief would she have saved herself by now if one was, indeed, even a small winner?
The hours passed and finally grew late as her thoughts continued; she glanced at the little stack of small papers. There was really nothing to lose and everything to gain, but she still couldn’t bring herself to go through them. She’d been disappointed so many times in her life; perhaps that is the price one pays for being an optimist, she thought to herself. But weary to the very core of her soul, she had learned to shy away from self-created disappointments, particularly when it was so darned easy to do so.
She turned off the computer, turned off the lights in the office and went to bed, leaving the little stack of small tickets untouched. And leaving her little bit of hope intact for another day.