YA Contemporary
75,000 words

Eighteen-year-old Mallory is in love. With her lottery tickets. As her world falls apart, Mallory sees them as the only chance for a better life—one where her parents aren’t going broke, her college dreams are still possible, and she can find the sister who left without any goodbyes.

Mallory arranges her whole life around her trips to the downtown mini mart famous for selling winning lottery tickets. However, it’s not so easy when she has to lie to everyone around her. Her parents certainly wouldn’t approve of the new part-time job that funds her dream, and they go to great lengths to avoid any discussion about their financial woes or her sister’s sudden exit. At school, it’s no easier. After starting the year as “that girl whose boyfriend cheated on her at the end-of-summer party”, she needs the comfort of friends more than ever. Even though they would probably understand, Mallory doesn’t want to risk being the awkward poor friend in their privileged world. So she nearly gets herself arrested trying to keep up with them.

Amid all the anxiety and lies, though, is a growing friendship with Adrian Lopez, the tough yet totally hot transfer student with his own struggles. Despite running in different crowds from opposite sides of town, Adrian becomes the one person with whom Mallory can be honest. And when it looks as though Mallory could lose everything—her home, her sister, her friends, and her college tuition—her budding relationship with Adrian could prove to be the key to understanding real luck.


No one ever talks about how unlucky brides are. On the most important day of their lives, they have to wear white. White is dull. It’s not even worthy of being a color. Toilet paper is white, along with boys’ undershirts and my grandmother’s wiry hair. Nothing amazing is ever white. Even brides know they need something blue.


So I don’t know why I let my friend Sara convince me to wear a white V-neck shirt to the party tonight. Surrounded in this car by Sara’s sunshine yellow tank top and Taylor’s orange floral mini skirt and Nicole’s lilac-colored skinny jeans, I feel dull. Boring. Very unlucky on a night when I really need something good to happen for a change.


I should be in my lucky green shirt. My first ‘A’ in pre-calculus, a spot on varsity cheer, and my boyfriend Ben are all gifts from its magical cotton. Tonight, though, my lucky shirt is in the laundry room buried under a mountain of dirty sheets and towels. Very unlucky.


I didn’t think I’d need it. I was supposed to be held hostage at my uncle’s retirement party but was suddenly freed on a ransom of equal parts begging and annoyance. I stood shirtless in the aftermath of a cotton polyester tornado when my friends arrived to pick me up. Sara threw the white cap-sleeved top at me and told me it would accentuate my summer tan. Nicole and Taylor agreed, so I put it on and we left.


“I think I should’ve worn the red ruffled top,” I say to Sara who sits next to me in the backseat of Nicole’s Prius. I sigh and smooth out the accordion of wrinkles that show up on white.


She’s absorbed in a text and doesn’t even notice I’ve spoken.


“You look fine, Mallory” Nicole says, eyeing me in the rearview mirror as she puts the car in park. We’ve finally found a parking spot on the street a few houses down from the party.


I pull a Usain Bolt and am halfway up the sidewalk before my friends have even gotten out of the car. They move at a snail’s pace toward the blaring music of the party. “Hurry up!” I tap my foot on the stone walkway.


The three of them are discussing Taylor’s new pixie haircut. We all encouraged her to chop off her long hair last week, and Taylor can’t stop reaching for the hair that used to fall at her shoulders. I can’t focus on that, though. My heart somersaults in anticipation of seeing Ben. He started his first year at college and left early for fraternity rush. We’ve talked and texted, but this is the first weekend he’s been able to come home.


I didn’t text him after my sudden family prison release because Sara thought a surprise would be so much more fun. I want our reunion to be romantic-comedy perfect, so I agreed. I miss him so much. I miss that fresh-from-the-dryer smell of the sweatshirt he always lets me wear. And the taste and feel of his soft lips when he kisses me at the end of our dates. And most of all, I miss his smile, that special treasure that always dissolves my troubles.



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