Money. Unfortunate. Oscillating.

Can three words spark something creative? For me, absolutely! That's why I asked my Facebook fans for some noun-adjective-verb combinations. Thanks to Priscilla Haynes for the money-unfortunate-oscillating combo (you had me at oscillating--the rest of the words were a bonus!). Read on for the resulting short story.


      My life was the pits. Eight months ago, I walked in on my husband burying his stick inside an inflatable sheep. Further investigation produced various flavors of barnyard porn on his laptop. Needless to say, we divorced two months ago, which also coincided with my being laid off from my glorified errand-runner job for West & Able, Attorneys-At-Law.

      To make matters worse, my sudden lack of funds had forced me to move in with my sister, whose perfect life often had me contemplating suicide. She had it all--the breadwinner husband, two well-behaved kids, and no need to work. Plus, my hopelessness had only served to strengthen her resolve, and she had made getting me back on my feet her new life's mission.

      "Emma," my sister called, using her incredibly chipper but annoying singsong voice.

      It was eleven o'clock, and my sister had no doubt been up for hours. I padded down the hallway toward the nails-on-chalkboard happiness.

      "Yeah, Joy," I said, rubbing sleep from my eyes.

      "I think I found you a job," said Joy.

      I walked past her and fumbled for a cup of coffee. "Uh-huh."

      "I'm serious," she said. She started bouncing up and down, barely able to contain herself.

      I stopped mid-pour and glared at her. "What?"

      "I got you an interview at Wilson & Associates," she said. "I know it's not much, but they're hiring for a runner."

      "You know," I said, resuming my coffee pour, "I won't be able to move out on a runner's salary."

      Joy agreed. "But at least it's a step in the right direction." She scribbled down an address on a nearby notepad. "You'll need to get ready fast. They want to see you in an hour."


      The interview was painful. Despite being a law firm, Wilson & Associates had opted to ask about my personal life, and I had been too exhausted to lie. As it turns out, barnyard-loving ex-husbands are not job-winning interview topics.

      I sulked all the way to my car, when a brilliant idea hit me--my money problems would be over if I won the lotto. I yanked my car door open and slid behind the wheel. Next stop, O'Leary's Liquors and Subs.


      I exited O'Leary's with half a sub, a bottle of bourbon, and a lotto ticket. Since I had drained my bank account to its last thirty cents, I hoped the lotto ticket would pan out.

      Dripping mayonnaise and lettuce down my shirt as I drove, I couldn't stand the thought of heading back to my sister's house. With visions of Joy's disappointment playing like a mini-movie in my head, I aimed my car toward my friend Nate's auto repair shop. I hadn't seen Nate in a while, but we were like chocolate and peanut butter. No matter how long we'd been apart, we'd always be good when we got together.

      Thirty minutes later, I pulled into Nate's shop. Bourbon in hand, I decided to bypass reception and head for the garage. As I passed the threshold, a symphony of air compressors and wrenches buzzed, clicked, and hummed and an industrial-strength fan whirred, whipping a much-needed breeze into the stuffy garage. The noise set me on edge, so I cracked the bourbon and took a swig.

      Gene, one of Nate's best mechanics, noticed me first.

      "I'll be damned," said Gene. "If it isn't Emma Rhodes."

      "Emma Wright," I corrected. "Rhodes probably screwed the horse after he rode off into the sunset."

      Gene chuckled. "I think I read about that in the paper. I seem to recall a headline about a local doctor with some kind of sick barnyard fetish. Very . . . unfortunate."

      I flushed and asked for Nate.

      "Nate!" Gene yelled. "You got a visitor!"

      Nate rolled out from beneath a Toyota a couple of bays down the line. His eyes locked onto me. "Holy shit! Emma!"


      Many hours later and less one bottle of bourbon, Nate, me, and the Toyota were the only ones left in the garage.

      "Didn't you say you bought a lotto ticket?" asked Nate.

      "Yup." I said, sifting through my purse for the ticket. I produced it, holding it as if it were a life preserver.

      "Ya know," said Nate, "the lotto drawing's about to come on. Wanna watch?"

      It was a no-brainer. I agreed, and we hurried into the shop's waiting room, where a television awaited us.

      Nate clicked on the TV as I clenched my ticket. We were just in time to see a wannabe Vanna White select and read the winning numbers. After ball number three, my heart skipped a beat. After ball number five, I nearly fainted. And after ball number six, I almost wet my pants.

      Nate looked confused as I jumped up and down. So, I held out my ticket. He snatched it, and then his eyes went wide--I had all six numbers! He joined in, jumping like an idiot alongside me. He handed over the ticket. Our hands touched. Jumping in unison, we hugged. And then his mouth found mine. Either I was too drunk or too happy, but he was a damned fine kisser. The kiss deepened, and before I knew it, we were bouncing off chairs, disrobing each other as we headed back out toward the garage.

      I clung to the ticket, using my other hand to unfasten his pants. My shirt was unbuttoned, and he had my front-latching bra unclasped as he teasingly nuzzled my nipples. We backed onto the hood of the Toyota, and he kissed his way down my belly. As he unzipped my pants, I let go of the ticket. The oscillating fan whipped the ticket about, sending it flying into an air duct. I screamed.


      Nearly two hours later, Nate and I had retrieved my winning lotto ticket. Apparently, nothing kills the mood like crawling around air ducts, and even though we hadn't finished our business, we were both done. We sat shoulder-to-shoulder, faces smudged with dust, beneath the garage's main vent. Heart pounding, I stared at my ticket. The jackpot was thirty-two million, and I didn't know if I was the only winner. Nate grabbed my hand. The look in his eyes sent my pulse into orbit.

      He leaned in for a kiss. I hesitated, shoving the ticket into my pocket.

      "Can't be too careful," I said.

      "Good call," said Nate, closing the distance between us.

      Hopes soaring, I melted into him.