Hidden Treasure by Steven Thompson

It should seem surreal to have so much riding on a lobster, but it’s routine now. Lobsters, Pirates and Treasure Chests sound exotic, eh? Maybe not when you’re freezing your bits off outside a petrol station in Gateshead. I reckon the scratchcards are more important when I don’t have a coin on me. I used my last one to buy this one and I have to scrape the greasy silver film off with my thumbnail. The card creases under the pressure as I use my left palm as a rest. Standing in the doorway – If I win, I can go straight back in and collect.   

Three lucky starfish are all I need to win even the smallest prize – another scratchy. You need three lobsters for the top prize – £5,000. If I win big I’ll buy one of those lobsters, from somewhere. The fish quay. I wonder if they’ll tell me how to cook it. I’ve heard you have to cook them while they’re still alive. Not sure I fancy that – might be bad luck. Maybe I’ll go to a restaurant and have them cook it. Pick one out of the tank, like they do on the telly.

A starfish. That’s the lobster out the window. I clean the surface. Smoothing the card out so I can see it properly. I worry that I’ll miss something one day and throw a winning card out. The thought makes my belly ache.

Another starfish. The hope of another chance warms me as I flick the silvery crumbs from my thumbnail. A clean nail makes for better purchase on the card’s surface. Deep breath. Willing it to win, as if it hasn’t already been decided. Like my fate hasn’t already been settled beneath the opaque covering, and images are spinning like the wheel of a fruit machine, waiting for me to scratch – Lobster, Pirate, Chest, Starfish, Lobster, Pirate, Chest, Starfish…

Lobster. I watch as my breath temporarily envelopes my hands. The wind is making my eyes water, it’s so cold. There’s a bin not far from the entrance to the shop. One last look:

Starfish, Starfish, Lobster
Starfish, Starfish, Lobster
Starfish, Starfish, Lobster

Better luck next time. 

About The Author

Steven is new to writing fiction, having branched out from writing the music and gig reviews for his blog. He has a number of works in progress, including novels, short stories, poems, songs and plays and spends most of his spare time either writing, reading or reading about writing. In 2019 he joined the Holmeside Writers group in Sunderland and was shortlisted for the University of Sunderland In Association With Waterstones and Short Story Award for his short story Glass.”

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