Lucky Charm

“Babe, please do not forget to wash my lucky socks!”

“Daniel, for the millionth time, I know.” Megan only called me Daniel when she was annoyed, but there was no risking it, not this time.

“Sorry, you know that I am nervous. My interview is on Wednesday and I need my lucky socks.”

“Yes I know, lucky socks,” she mocked, “your luck is going to run out one day.”

“Hey, they worked when I asked you out right?” I laughed. Those socks have been with me since my freshman year in high school. My mom bought them for me for Christmas that year. At first, I hated those socks. It looked like someone vomited snowflakes all over a red canvas. The first time I wore it was when my mom accidentally packed them in my gym bag before my basketball game. At first, all of my teammates laughed when they saw how bright they were. They stopped laughing when I ended the game with 37 points. My coach labeled them my lucky socks.

“Yes, I remember that day. After your game was over you walked into the stance and tried to talk to me. You were so nervous, I almost burst into tears when you forgot your own name,” she giggled and swirled her glass of wine before taking a gulp.

“Hey listen, I get nervous when I am around beautiful women,” I put my arm around her, trying my go-to move that always worked in high school.

“Oh please, is that how come you are speechless every time my mother is around huh?” She moved my arm, taking another swig of her wine.

“I plead the fifth.” She saw right through my move. It’s probably because I don’t have on my lucky socks –I thought. I cleared the table and brought the dishes to the sink. The aroma of leftover steak flooded my nostrils. “Dinner was great babe.”

“If I don’t cook, we both will end up starving.” She was right. Even my lucky socks couldn’t save my cooking skills. I tried to cook once in high school while my parents were away, and I almost burned the house down. Megan came over of course to save the day and spare my stomach.

“Don’t worry, if I get this job then I’ll cook us dinner.” I snuck behind her and started massaging her shoulders. “I know you have been doing a lot since I switched to this part-time job. This is why I need everything to go smoothly on Wednesday so don’t please don’t forget my socks.”

“If you mention those socks one more time, I’m going to turn them to ashes.” She tilted her head back, resting it on my stomach. I could see the bags under her eyes. We had everything planned out, but then the stock market crashed. I lost my job the very next day. We couldn’t afford our home under her teacher salary so we sold it and moved to an apartment complex.

I found a part-time job as a receptionist for a brokerage, but the past wasn’t as great as it used to be. We were managing to get by, but not how we both pictured. It wasn’t until I came in contact with an old teammate last month, Thomas, who helped me get this interview with Tier Brokerage. It was the luck that I was waiting for.

The job search was impossible before I bumped into Thomas. I looked for job openings before work, after work and sometimes even during work. Most Brokerages refused to respond to any of my emails. The ones who didn’t have any available positions. The market crash turned my degree into a worthless piece of paper. Most days I sat at the park for hours before returning home to make it seem like I was doing something worthwhile. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. For the first time in a long time, I began to question myself.

“Okay, I promise I won’t mention them again.”

“I have a long day tomorrow so I’m calling it quits for tonight.” She got up from the kitchen table and trotted towards the bedroom. Throughout the modest times, she managed to keep good faith. However, I started to question my own faith in myself. She lost sleep because of her dedication to teaching. I lost sleep because I recently I couldn’t stop thinking what she actually saw in me. Her smile never disappeared, unless I was annoying her of course. But I knew eventually she would grow tiresome and her smile would turn into a scowl.

“Okay, two points before you go to bed. One, I love you and two, please don’t forget my socks.” Laughing, I ran to the bathroom before she let out a violent screech.

“Ugh, I hate you so much.” She slammed the bedroom door.

In a way, this was my coping mechanism. Being annoying to keep her from facing reality that I might not be the man she once fell in love with. I wish, I prayed, I hoped that my luck would last long enough for me to crawl out of the mud. My luck failed me once before, when my mom passed.

Minutes before my senior game, my coach pulled me to the bench and informed me that my mom got into a car accident on her way to the game. She didn’t make it. She was my biggest fan, my mom, the origin of my luck. My dad always put work before his family, so he wasn’t in the car when it happened. After that day, I vowed never to be like that man. However, now I would do anything just to be at work.

The same way I coped with my mother’s death was how I was coping with the crash. I hid behind the laughs and giggles, concealing the true pain that was devouring me from the inside. To be honest, I didn’t know who would crack first: me or her.

I washed my hands and face, looking up to my startling reflection. You can do this. You got this. This is yours to take. Nobody’ll take this from you –I gave myself a thumbs up and left the bathroom. Megan was already asleep, so I went to the couch. My failures often prevented me from facing Megan, so I was accustomed to sleeping on the couch.

I couldn’t sleep. This was my last chance to turn things around. I didn’t want this; I needed this. For the sake of my own sanity, this had to go well. For the first time in a long while, I prayed. When I was younger, my mother would make me pray before I went to bed. I stopped as I grew older, only doing it ever so often. But when my mother died, I abandoned my faith completely.

My eyes began to water as I set my alarm. They were gradually becoming heavier, until it was impossible to keep them open.

“Goodnight world.”

I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. I knew I was late! Out of all days, I chose to oversleep my alarm. This was the biggest opportunity of my life, and I was about to miss it.

I had no time to even fathom why Megan didn’t wake me up before she left to work. She knew today was my interview. I tried to blame her for this, but I knew it was my fault. My guilt wouldn’t allow me to blame anyone but myself. That’s the only thing that I had at this moment: guilt.

I quickly grabbed the first suit I could find and bounced around the house while dressing myself.  I dug into the drawer but something was wrong; they weren’t there, my lucky socks! Heart pounding, I ripped the drawer out of the dresser, scattering the contents on the floor. They weren’t there. Heart pounding, I poured all of the dirty clothes out of the hamper, and there they were.

“She was supposed to clean them.” I couldn’t go to the interview without my lucky socks, and I had no time to wash them. With no other option, I grabbed the Febreze and hosed them down. The mist of freshener made my nose run and my eyes watery.

With one shoe on and one shoe in my hand, I stormed out of the apartment. I had a brush in my mouth and my briefcase in the other hand. I opened the car so fast, the door almost ripped off the hinges. I tossed everything to the passenger seat and ignited the engine. Without looking, I pulled out my parking spot, almost crashing into an incoming car.

I didn’t know which was more probable, me getting a speeding ticket or Megan ripping my throat out. Both seemed more likely than anything else at this point. The meeting was in 15 minutes, but the office was 10 minutes across the bridge. With this traffic though, I was never going to make it. I picked up my phone to call Thomas, but a notification popped up. It was a voicemail from Megan.

“Hi sweetie, I know you have a busy day tomorrow with your interview so I decided to let you sleep in this morning. Remember, today is the parent-teacher conferences so I will be home a little late tonight. I know, your lucky socks. I will clean them tonight only if you promise to make dinner. And please, for heaven’s sake, don’t burn the apartment down. Better yet, just order us Chinese. I love you, bye.”

I removed the phone from my ear and laughed. Today was Tuesday. For the first time in months, I paused and reflected at how chaotic my life was. Through all of the chaos though, I saw a glimmer of hope. I realized I didn’t need any lucky socks to determine my life. I had the best luck charm anyone could ever ask for. I had the love of my life. I had Megan. No matter what job I had or how much money I made, I knew Megan loved me for me. I picked up my phone and called her.

“Hey babe, you’re never going to guess what I did this morning…”


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