Lucky Charm

Su­per­sti­tions are in doubt in this light-hearted story by H. John­son-Mack.

The People's Friend Special - - FICTION -

DON’T put those new shoes on my ta­ble!” Jim Bunt­ing yelled as Sam was about to un­load her shop­ping bags. “It’s bad luck.”

With a lit­tle squeak of ex­as­per­a­tion, Sam dropped them on to a chair in­stead.

“Re­ally, Gramps. You and your old wives’ tales!”

De­spite the gen­er­a­tion gap, James and Saman­tha Bunt­ing had al­ways been the best of friends.

Jim was in the au­di­ence for ev­ery one of Sam’s sports days and school recitals; he’d in­tro­duced her to the joys of Dick Fran­cis nov­els and glam rock, and was now just as sup­port­ive to her five-yearold son, Josh.

Sam and her hus­band, Cal­lum, both ad­mired Jim im­mensely, apart from this one lit­tle thing.

“I know what you think about my su­per­sti­tions, you be­ing a sci­en­tist.”

Jim car­ried the gro­ceries through to the kitchen and fetched a drink for Josh, who was cur­rently danc­ing round his legs.

“Call me old-fash­ioned, Sam, but this world is as full of mis­for­tune as it ever was, so if a lucky charm can of­fer me a bit of pro­tec­tion, I’m happy to carry one.”

Sam looked up from the per­co­la­tor she was fill­ing.

“Rab­bits’ feet and four-leaf clovers? You re­ally be­lieve in all that stuff?”

Jim laughed.

“Per­son­ally, I’d rather not tempt fate. Here’s an idea, Josh. Why don’t you see if you can find Mummy a lucky four-leaf clover in the gar­den?”

When he came back in from show­ing Josh the clover patch, Sam was shak­ing her head.

“We may be liv­ing in the age of tech­nol­ogy, but when it comes to luck, there’s noth­ing wrong with a help­ing hand.” He grinned. “Take your in­ter­view next week, for in­stance.

“I know how much you want this job, so wouldn’t you feel just a bit less ner­vous with a lucky charm tucked into your hand­bag?” Sam wrin­kled her nose. “No charm is go­ing to se­cure me a po­si­tion with one of the lead­ing re­search com­pa­nies in the coun­try, Gramps.”

“No,” Jim con­ceded, “but it might make you more at­trac­tive to the in­ter­view­ers! Now, where did I put that cake?”

****

On the day of her in­ter­view, Sam found her­self think­ing back on that con­ver­sa­tion. She’d spent a lot of time pre­par­ing for this, but still she was full of self-doubt and stomach but­ter­flies.

Would she be able to sell her­self and con­vince an in­ter­view board of strangers that she was the one they were look­ing for?

She took her time get­ting ready, smil­ing when she spot­ted some­thing that re­minded her of Jim.

Her hand hov­ered over it. Did she re­ally need to take along a good-luck charm? After all, she didn’t be­lieve in su­per­sti­tions.

****

Walk­ing down the road to Josh’s school some hours later, she was still smil­ing, but this time with in­ner tri­umph.

The in­ter­view had gone well; she’d man­aged to qui­eten those nerves enough to con­vey her en­thu­si­asm for the job and what she could bring to it.

As he’d shown her out, the head in­ter­viewer had promised she’d get an an­swer by the end of the day. If only it could be the one she wanted!

Sam crossed her fingers. Well, as Gramps would say, with a lit­tle bit of luck . . .

Her mind in the clouds, she nar­rowly avoided walk­ing un­der a lad­der against a shop win­dow.

“Whoops! Sorry!” she called to the man on the top rung en­gaged in care­fully re­paint­ing sign let­ter­ing, and whirled out of the way.

“Look out!”

The cry came too late. Sam had barely time to turn be­fore she felt some­thing slam into her.

****

Jim was tak­ing ad­van­tage of the af­ter­noon sun­shine to tidy up the gar­den. His lit­tle sci­en­tist would be call­ing soon to let him know how the in­ter­view had gone.

When the shrill ring came, Jim went to an­swer the tele­phone with an un­earthed weed still in one hand.

“So, tell me,” he de­manded, laugh­ing as he picked up the re­ceiver, “when do you start?”

But his smile soon faded when he heard what Cal­lum had to say.

****

“No need to look so blue,” the nurse told Jim as she led him down the hos­pi­tal ward. “She’s go­ing to be fine.”

“My poor girl!” Jim wailed when he saw Sam’s leg. “What on earth have you done to your­self?”

Sam gri­maced.

“You won’t laugh?”

When Jim nod­ded, she sighed.

“I was avoid­ing walk­ing un­der a lad­der and crashed into a cy­clist. Hey, you promised!” She protested as Jim cov­ered his face with his hands, his shoul­ders shak­ing.

“Ac­ci­dents hap­pen,” the nurse soothed as she plumped up Sam’s pil­lows. “It could have been worse than a badly sprained limb and some bruises. You must have been born un­der a lucky star.”

“Some­thing like that.” Sam waited un­til the nurse had gone to at­tend to an­other pa­tient be­fore she beck­oned Jim closer with a con­spir­a­to­rial grin.

She drew a book from her bag on the bed and opened it at the ti­tle page to re­veal a four-leaf clover – or, at least, an ex­tra pe­tal stuck care­fully on to a three-leaf plant to make it so.

“Josh was dis­ap­pointed not to find a four-leaf one after all his hunt­ing so we de­cided to cre­ate one,” she ex­plained. “I took it with me to the in­ter­view. The job is mine – once I’m back on both feet again!”

Jim laughed de­light­edly. “That’s bril­liant, Sam. But I thought you didn’t be­lieve in those old wives’ tales.” Sam shrugged.

“As a wise man once said, when it comes to luck, there’s noth­ing wrong with a help­ing hand.”

Sam was a sci­en­tist, and cer­tainly did not be­lieve in luck!

The End.

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