Lotto tries to keep a sense of normalcy from Monday morning until Friday, if only for appearances sake. She saves her energy for when she has to interact with her parents, and continues the routine of ignoring her sister. She doesn’t think her Mom and Dad notice anything unusual. Lotto lets a smile slip here and there but she always keeps her head down so it is like she is enjoying her own personal joke.
When she does get to her bedroom with the door safely closed, Lotto lets loose. She squeals into her pillow, dances around her bedroom, and smiles flow freely. She lays on her bed, looks up at the ceiling and plays over and over the events from Sunday. Ned walking out of Cream, his saggy pants and vintage sneakers, and the way he smelled. Lotto takes a lot of deep breaths, trying to remember his aroma. He smelled the way Lotto imagined the love interest of the heroine in all the classic movies she loved would. He didn’t need cologne. Just ocean saltiness, sweat, and a hint of soap that only came from the bar kind. She could picture Ned’s friendly eyes looking down at her and shivers ran up and down her spine. She fantasized about what would happen on Friday night. What do kids her age do at night? And more importantly, how was she going to get out of the house without getting caught?
Friday morning Lotto got up as usual, relieved that she had it made through the week without any nightmares. She starts her math work and tries to focus on the pre calculus equations in front of her. After about an hour of staring at the numbers, she put the worksheets away and reviews her science notes. She knows she has an exam the following week according to her calendar so she wants to refresh her memory. But after 15 minutes she knows she is as ready as she is going to be. She picks up the only thing she knew would help her pass the time, the book she is currently reading. She takes The Handmaid’s Tale over to her bed and makes herself comfortable in her sea of pillows. She lays back and opens the book.
Lotto opens her eyes. But instead of seeing the light in her bedroom, she is faced with darkness. Lotto’s heart starts to go into overdrive. She couldn’t possibly be back in the same spot. She closes her eyes, not wanting to face this reality. The wind of breath entering and exiting. The grittiness of the dirt covering every inch of her skin. Pushing down a gag reflex, she reaches down to pull up whatever will get her through this one. She thinks of Ned and the possibilities that lie before her tonight. She isn’t going to let a nightmare keep her from that. She does what she always does: she climbs with all her might. She focuses and ignores her screaming muscles, refusing to stop. When she sees the eventual light she moves a little bit faster. It gets brighter and brighter, urging Lotto not to stop. And then she sees the foot. But instead of a boot, it is a suede navy blue Van with white trim. When it comes down towards her, Lotto quickly ducks.
Back down on earth, Lotto sits up in her bed. Frustration fills her and she can feel her temperature rise. She starts to cry, her tears a town under attack and the need to flee to safety. A size 10 blue Van haunts her. Lotto looks over at the clock. It is five, early evening. She must have fallen asleep after lunch. She get ups from the bed and steps on her book. She picks it up, puts the bookmark on the last read page, and sets it on her desk. It was time to splash some water on her face and have dinner. Analysis of this latest nightmare would have to be saved for another time. She needs all the energy she can muster if she is going to make it out tonight.
Lotto’s Mom and Dad are setting the table and placing food on the teal, antique, and scalloped chipped dishes that were a hand me down from her grandparents. Lotto goes to the drawer to get silverware. Once the plates and cups are filled Tera walks in and sits down. Lotto scowls but keeps her opinion to herself. She sits down and starts to pick apart her food, realizing she doesn’t have an appetite. When she looks up both parents are looking at her with suspicion. Before they can say anything, Lotto takes a big bite of her baked chicken and mashed potatoes. Mom and Dad go back to their dinner.
15 minutes later, Lotto asks to be excused. Her Dad nods. She scrubs her dishes and places them in the dishwasher. She can’t resist looking at her sister and saying, “See Tera, this is called a DISHWASHER. It CLEANS dishes. But you have to put them in first.”
Tera narrows her eyes at Lotto and replies, “Shut up Lotto. I didn’t ask.”
Dad swallows his last bit of food and looks at them both. “That’s enough. Tera, make sure you don’t leave your dishes in the sink. Lotto, I do believe you were excused.”
“Okay Dad. I am going to read in my room tonight.”
Lotto’s Mom shakes her head and tells Lotto, “You know tonight is family game night. We are all going to participate. You can read afterwards.”
Not wanting to make a big deal out of it, Lotto sighs and answers, “Okay Mom. But can we make it quick? I need to finish this book so I can write my report next week.”
“We will be done when we are done. Maybe that nap you took this afternoon could have been better spent reading.” Lotto doesn’t answer and goes back to her room until she is called for the game.
Two hours and three board games later, Lotto is finally allowed to go back to her room. She pops up from the couch, spins around with excitement, and manages to run right into the wall separating the kitchen and the family room. When she gathers herself and turns around, her family is staring at her. “Everything okay Lotto?” her mom asked.
“I’m fine Mom, just tired.” Lotto tries not to acknowledge the blush stretching across her cheeks while Tera shakes with laughter out of the corner of her eye. Lotto doesn’t wait for more questions and shuffles down the hall of shame back to her room. She closes the door and sinks onto her bed. The clock ticks with exhilaration, the time being 7:30. She has just enough time to clean up and pick out something to wear.
At 8:30 Lotto’s Mom knocks on her door and says good night. “Good night Mom.”
“Sweet dreams sweetheart. See you in the morning.” Lotto looks at her only window, adjacent to her desk. She knew that is the easiest escape route but its age worries her. To give it a test run she walks over and pulls it up an inch. Nothing, not even the tiniest of screeches. Relief pours through Lotto. She smooths down the wrinkles that aren’t on her aged jeans. Her outfit probably won’t measure up to whatever Erin is wearing but Lotto feels confident enough. She is comfortable in her favorite pants and nautical navy blue and white striped boat neck top. Her “I don’t care but look good” appearance. Her Grandma’s bracelet is secure on her right wrist. She pushes the window a little bit more. Still quiet. When she tries to push it up more than a bit, the window squeaks. Lotto yanks her hands back and jumps under her bed covers. After 10 minutes of waiting for her Mom and Dad to burst into the room and tie her to the bed for the rest of her life, Lotto decides it’s now or never. She pushes her pillows under the threadbare comforter, knowing full well that they are a poor substitute for her body. She assesses the space between the window and the sill, determining that she only has to push it up one more time and that should be enough room to squeeze through. One last shove, a calculated slide through the space, and Lotto is free.