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THE DORMOUSE

    Once a dormouse dreamed of winning the lottery.
    If it could just hit the jackpot, the timorous, withdrawn dormouse was certain, it would be able to do and buy all the things it had always wanted. It could quit its dead-end job, pay off its maxed-out credit cards, and begin living the good life at last.
    After winning the lottery, the first thing the dormouse meant to buy was a palatial mansion in Beverly Hills with garage space for twelve luxury cars, one for each month. It would fill the place with electronic goodies, and not the cheap stuff sold at discount stores either. And it would buy a private jet to whisk it here and there whenever the fancy moved it. Needless to say, it would take along its pick of knockout escort service companions as well.
    With the prospect of treating itself to the very best and the very most of absolutely everything once it won, the dormouse made the decision to limit its expenses for now to the barest of necessities. The money saved by this calculation also meant the dormouse could buy still more lottery tickets in hopes of hastening the big day.
    Each time a drawing took place, it would turn on the television an hour early to be sure not to miss the winning numbers, tormented by the thought that the prize it had waited so long for might slip through its fingers if it should so much as blink. If no winning numbers were drawn, the dormouse was disappointed but relieved to its toenails that nobody else had been lucky either.
    With every increase in the jackpot when there was no winner, the dormouse told itself, it would be able to enjoy even more of the good life when its fortunes finally did turn. Not only did its appetites grow with each loss, as a result, but the list of past disappointments and self-denials to be wiped away lengthened to the same degree. In that sense, winning too soon became as great a worry as not winning at all. Not being able to afford the ultimate thing you coveted might be just as bad as failing to obtain the least of them.
    Eventually, with its entire life devoted to the lottery, the dormouse no longer dared allow itself a moment’s distraction. Eyes never moving, it peered at the TV over mounting piles of torn tickets from one drawing to the next in an agony of endless agitation.
    Hoping against hope it wouldn’t hit the jackpot quite yet and ruin everything.