Prompt No. 6
Imagine if your favorite character from 19th-century fiction had been born without thumbs. Then write a short story about them winning the lottery.
“What do you mean I’ve won the pools?” I said, more than a little sharply. It was rather pleasant to see him wince, though I suppose it was horrible of me to go at him before tea. Ever since his incessant tea time had ended, the caffeine withdrawal had been rather arduous, apparently. “I didn’t buy a ticket.”
“No, of course you didn’t, my love,” the Hatter said in his most placating tones. I hate it when he uses that tone of voice, as though I were mad and needed calming down. In a minute, he’ll offer me a biscuit and a cup of warm milk.
“It was an unbirthday present. I bought one for you, one for the Hare, and one for the Dormouse. I thought it right, as I’m the only one with—” He broke off, looking just a bit guilty.
“Opposable thumbs, yes, we all know,” I said impatiently. It’s really too shaming to be living amongst animals and no better than they when it comes to managing things with one’s hands—or ought I call them paws? The March Hare says yes, but I think he’s merely being malicious. At any rate, there oughtn’t to be any onus attached to it. It’s not as though I misplaced my thumbs. I just … haven’t got any. An oversight on Nature’s part, and hardly my fault. “Do come to the point.”
“Well, I bought three tickets, and marked them each for each, and yours won!” He was looking just a bit timid now, having gathered that I wasn’t utterly overjoyed.
“What did it win?” I asked, rather suspicious. It wasn’t an unreasonable question, especially since I found that our bank pays interest in treacle, though, to be fair, that was my fault for sending the Dormouse to open the account.
“A thousand pounds!” he cried, pulling off his hat and quite elated.
I didn’t come to Wonderland yesterday. “Pounds of what, precisely?”
He began fidgeting and turning his hat over in his hands, and that was when I knew that my habitual pessimism had, as usual, been justified. “Pounds of—of—”
“Jam,” he whispered, shamed.
I closed my eyes, trying to manage the impulse to tear out my hair. Thus far, I’d always been successful in such efforts, but failure is always a possibility. A thousand pounds of jam … how many lorries would it take to deliver that? Just trying to do the sum was painful. “Can we give it back?”
“N-no … but it’s a thousand pounds, and …” He stopped, then sighed. “Perhaps a nice biscuit and some warm milk? Or an oatcake with some ja—”
It’s really a treat to see the way the good china smashes on that beaky nose of his, though I ought to have hurled a saucer instead of the sugar bowl. Those break even more engagingly.
“Do you know what I would give for a normal supper? Something not involving treacle or jam or honey or biscuits! Sometimes I wake up at night from dreams of jugged hare—” It was my turn to stop abruptly. He looked so stricken.
“He’s a very old friend, my dear,” the Hatter whispered, quite miserable.
I took several deep breaths, attempting to regain my composure. “I know. It was just a dream, after all.” I turned to the curio table and drew out the funny little syringe. “Here, never mind. Let’s stop all this crossness.” Cocaine does wonders in dealing with his fits of withdrawal, and I could tell he had a headache—or at least, if he hadn’t had one before I flung the sugar bowl at his head, he certainly did now.
He rolled up his sleeve with alacrity, and I injected him. I’ve gotten quite good at finding veins, if I do say so myself. It only took a moment or two before his eyes were back to their normal brightness, and that cringing, beaten expression was gone.
“My dear, shall I—?”
I moved to drape myself on the un-fainting couch. “Go talk to the Hare and the Dormouse. Find out how much jam they can eat a day, and we’ll work out a timetable.”
“I’ll do it, as I’m the only one who can manage a pen—” He broke off once more, but smiling this time. “Gone already!” he trilled, dropping a kiss on my forehead, though his nose always preceded him so far that his lips never quite reached.
I composed myself for a rest, curled on my side, paws neatly folded.