That night, the sky was completely black save for a few small stars, which is about as many stars as you ever see in the city or the congested suburbs, so it wasn't that unusual. The cold breeze cut sharply into the throats of any breathing creature around, including the tall, slim girl walking briskly down the sidewalk, hands stuffed in pockets, wearing nothing but a thin jacket filled with holes and some frayed jeans. Her hair, which would remind most who looked upon it of a rather droopy bird's nest, was of moderate length and greyish brown. Despite her physical appearance, she held herself with such natural dignity and confidence that when she walked into the gas station and asked to buy a lottery ticket, the store clerk automatically assumed that she was old enough to be buying one (which of course was not true at all.)
The store clerk, Jesse, had woken up that morning with a hangover accompanied by a splitting headache, and was still coming off of a bad day, and was also irritated at herself for having gotten dumped by another boyfriend and for having agreed to take the night shift. It was only 7:30 pm, but she was dead on her feet. So, it was in this way that she failed to notice that the girl who walked into the store and asked for a lottery ticket looked only to be about fifteen years old, if one looked at her close enough.
Jesse reached under the counter, pulled out a basket filled with colored pieces of paper, and held it out to the girl in front of her. The girl stared at the contents of the basket intently for a few moments, then reached a hand in and fingered the paper. This went on for a few minutes, at which point Jesse said, "You gonna take one a' those, or just stand they'a?"
The girl made no indication that she had heard Jesse and continued to put her fingers on every ticket, one by one, and put it back down into the basket. Jesse started to grow impatient. "Jus' take one, lass, and get on with it. Doin' that's not gonna improve ya' chances."
Finally the girl stopped, took her hand out of the basket, and without looking at Jesse, said with an unexpectedly quiet voice, "Nevermind." Then she turned on her heel and walked straight out the door.
The convenience store she visited next turned out to be more forgiving; it was warmer, and she found what she came there for in a shorter amount of time. The man who handed the lottery tickets to her asked if she might spend her thirty dollars buying some new clothes instead of blowing it all on one chance out of a hundred thousand. She didn't answer, as before; but this time, her hand lingered on one of the pieces of paper, and she took it out of the basket, and handed all the money she had over to the man. Astonished at how confident she looked in making this choice, and feeling sorry for such a foolish girl, the man offered her his heavy jacket. "I don't need it," was all she said, before smiling at him in gratitude and walking out the door.
In the morning the lottery winner was announced. It had went to a young woman named "Angst Avery."
Indeed, it had been the first time she felt grateful to anyone in fifteen years.