Two days later is Lotto’s favorite day of the week. Monday through Friday she is stuck doing homework and following rules set upon by her parents. Saturday she gets to do “family time”. But Sunday is her day of the week, the day where she gets to leave the house and do what she wants. It has been this way for almost ten years, ever since she began having her visions.
Lotto’s visions started in second grade. She would see spots and then blackout. Lotto would see people from all different backgrounds. They would appear one by one, as if they were presenting themselves to her. Then they would start to show signs of being in pain. This would terrify Lotto, triggering her awake. In the beginning they would only come once a week. But as time went on they would become more frequent, almost every other day. Lotto’s teacher, Mrs. Jones, started to lecture her about falling asleep in class. At the rate they were coming, Lotto knew she had to tell somebody. She finally broke down and told her teacher after a vision of a little girl came to her. Her teacher called her parents and they all agreed to have a meeting.
Lotto, her teacher, her parents, and the principal sat down the next day. Lotto tried to give them as much information as possible but she felt that nobody believed her. It was agreed that she was too much of a distraction in the classroom and she would do school from home for the time being. She continued to have the visions at home and her parents started to become worried, afraid their daughter was having hallucinations. They took her to their family doctor and she was given a series of tests that were very invasive. The doctor would take her parents into a separate room from Lotto to discuss the results. Nobody every told her what was going on. With more tests came the nightmares. She would wake up screaming, thinking she was being buried alive. She stopped talking about the visions and never brought up the nightmares. With her silence came the stopping of the doctor visits and tests. Lotto went inward and only spoke when she had to. She kept her head down and completed her school work, thinking they would send her back. But six months turned into a year and Lotto is now going on 10 years at home, with as little social interaction as possible. The visions come and go. Lotto has accepted them as part of her life, keeping notebooks on each person she sees, hoping eventually she will be able to help them. And the nightmares only come when Lotto starts to feel the walls of her prison-like home cave in on her.
It is peaceful as Lotto enters the kitchen and makes her usual breakfast. Her family is still asleep and Lotto hums to herself as she sits down at the table and eats. Her dad walks in and gives her a peck on the cheek. “Morning sweetie. Sleep okay?” Lotto nods and smiles.
“Yes, Dad. And you?”
Peeking his head out from the top of the refrigerator, he says, “Not too shabby.” Lotto pushes her chair away from the table, throws away her trash. As she gets up to leave the kitchen her Dad asks, “Library, movie, and then home, alright kiddo?”
Lotto turns around and answers, “Sure Dad. I will be home by dinner.”
Lotto grabs her sweatshirt out of her room and heads for the door. “Lotto! Tell your mother and Tera goodbye.” Lotto snorts in disgust and says at the lowest volume she can get away with, “Bye Mom. Bye Tera.” She doesn’t hear a response so she heads out the door. The largest of the three windows in the living room of Lotto’s house are taken up by her mom and dad, holding hands. They both don’t take their eyes off their youngest daughter as she crosses the street.
Lotto walks with her head held low as she moves down the street. She is an expert at this, not running into anybody or anything that gets in her way. All the buildings she pass melt into one another, copycats of each other. They are building versions of her bedroom, white and gray, no bright spot to catch a passerby’s eye. Windows are blurry, in desperate need of a cleaning. Cracks line the sidewalk, the broken bones of the street. Some buildings are apartments, filled with families who can only afford the pocket sized homes they provide. Others are various businesses, with signs in English and Spanish.
Lotto has to move for more stray animals than people. She steps on the tail of a chihuahua, who yelps a bark as pathetic as his size, as she crosses from one block to another. She slows her pace down, not wanting to draw attention to herself by injuring the stray pet population. Comfort comes with the lack of people she has to dodge. Pretending she is in her own world with no fears is something Lotto likes to do when she is out. Freedom makes her mind wander and with hardly any people on her walk to interact with, she is able to let her guard down. Talk of the latest illness that is going around is keeping people from participating in recreational activities outside the home. But Lotto doesn’t care. She isn’t allowed out of the house except for Sundays and she isn’t going to let fear keep her indoors. The smog is a constant in her vision while the smells of trash, animal waste, and tar invade her nose. Lotto revels in the lack of rules and walls. Nothing will bring her high down, not today. Sickness has never touched her, and she doesn’t think it ever will. But she would gladly trade her nightmares and visions for the sickness that most can’t afford to cure.
Lotto turns the last corner to her destination and finally lifts her head. The letters that spelled out library are long gone but the burnt red bricks that make up the building are mostly intact. There are no windows and just the one door that used to open automatically. Lotto pulls on the metal handle connected to the door and feels her mood lift even more once she steps in. The stuffiness and the scent of old books replace the smog as she starts to make her way towards the back of the room. She weaves through a collection of tables that were used for school cafeterias at one time, passing just a couple of patrons who are seated at them. She waves a silent hello to Shelley, the lady behind the counter. Shelley returns the wave, beckoning her to come over.
“Good morning Lotto. How are you today?” Resting her arms on the laminated wood counter that separates her from Shelley, Lotto says, “Much better than yesterday. Have anything new for me today?” Shelley bends down and pulls a stack of magazines out from below.
“I found these in the back room and thought you might enjoy them.” Lotto picks up the top magazine and looks it over. The writing of the magazine leaps out at its reader, with bubbly writing colored with sugary pink. There are pictures of teen boys on the cover with the title Teen Beat at the top. Lotto assumes the ones on the cover were famous a long time ago. She can’t wait to read why. “Thank you Shelley! I love them.”
Shelley grins and replies, “I thought you might. Just remember to bring them back up here when you are done.” Lotto picks them up and tells her, “I will. Thank you again.”
Lotto carries the five magazines to her spot, the back of the library on the left side. It is Lotto’s favorite spot due to it’s privacy. Shelley even found an old chair for her and positioned it where Lotto could sit for hours and still have a full view of the library. She sinks into the chair, relishing the warmth and softness of the sand colored corduroy. The chair wobbles due to its uneven legs and there are a number of rips in the fabric due to it’s age. But Lotto is at home. She opens up the Teen Beat and sits back with a happy sigh, letting everything else become white noise.