The Lottery Line by Susan Gibb

Every Saturday morning they come around and have us draw numbers from a small wooden box. Then we wait. They’ll come back and call twenty numbers as we crowd in the main yard, its dust oddly red and muddy as nothing I remember from the outside to be.

Some women whisper nervously about being freed. We hold our numbers close to our breasts, afraid to let anyone see, to be holding someone else’s lucky number. But luck is dependably random.

Some of us are silent, having gone through months of Saturday mornings. We see hope as a wisp of breeze that blows through the camp on its way somewhere else. Eyes shine through the lack of expressions, expectation nearer oblivion, some flickering a final spark. It’s mostly the new ones, the latest arrivals, who are excited, believing that this week their number will be called, that they are already on their way home.

She had just arrived three weeks ago, a young woman, her belly bursting with child. We found an extra blanket, shoes for her feet. She stands anxiously, her face innocent and naive. She had become my friend and that frightened me.

The guards return. My number is called. She silently begs me. I wipe her eyes off my face, turn and join the line. Her hope brands my back like a hot iron. I’ve never told her what I suspect, in case I am wrong. But for this week, at least, I think she is safe.

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8 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

8 responses to “The Lottery Line by Susan Gibb

  1. Randal Houle

    Good use of the theme. There is plenty not spelled out in the text. I liked how I thought of this story in several ways by the end.

  2. Suspected this was where your were heading (I’ve perhaps read too much distopian fiction), but you easily held me all the way. I especially liked what you did with the young girl, how her want added an extra level of misery.

  3. As I sit in front of the Boob Tube absorbing nothing but the comforting photons, this story is making me feel sad, Thank You.

  4. Ganymeder

    I think this might just be my favorite this week. So much implied but left unsaid.

  5. Thanks, folks. This story took a longtime to form.

  6. Amazing story with so many layers, both disturbing and compassionate.
    And so interesting, the parallel in theme and constellation between this and Elizabeth’s story “The Evacuation Queue”.

  7. Pingback: Week #23 – long lines « 52|250 A Year of Flash

  8. Sibel Catana

    I loved the story, the atmosphere you created is very dark, yet there is compassion in all that angst.

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