A Little Luck

The day began badly for Mark. From the kitchen window, he spotted a single magpie perched on the garden fence. He saluted it instantly.


His aunt Madge, a superstitious soul who lived next door to Mark and his folks, had taught him to do this.

 

As he grew up, Mark had picked up her ways.

He needed to ward off bad luck, especially today. He was scheduled to give an important presentation to clients.

The panel were from a major department store, and they'd asked the company Mark worked for to commission a new website.

Mark was put in charge of the design. He'd taken a risk with edgy lines and eye- catching colours, but this was why he loved working in the creative industry.

He glanced at his watch. Time was getting on. He quickly donned his waistcoat and leaving the buttons undone for the moment, he shrugged on the jacket of his suit.

Then he scooped up his rucksack and under a darkening sky, he set off.

As he opened the door, he glanced in the hall mirror but - oh no! There was a slight crack in it. How the heck had that happened?

There was no time to dwell upon the seven year's bad luck - he was late for his bus.

Slapping a tree (touching wood was meant to ward off bad luck) Mark raced along the street - only to see the bus pull away from the stop.
Just my luck! he thought glumly.

It was a twenty minute wait for another bus - and to make matters worse, it looked like it was about to lash it down. Naturally, there was no bus shelter and he'd forgotten his waterproof jacket, too.

He sighed as took his place at the head of the bus stop queue.

'Mark!' Mark spun round to see a colleague, Tony pull up in his car. 'Want a lift to work?'

He certainly did.

It was funny though, Mark thought. Tony never usually drove this way...he slid into the passenger seat just as the heavens opened.

Well, he reasoned, that lucky escape must be down to touching wood and saluting the magpie.

***

Before the presentation, Mark took his time searching the office floor for a drawing pin.

'See a pin and pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck...' Aunt Madge used to chant.

'I see the clients have arrived,' Tony said.

'Have they?' Mark was too absorbed in his task to notice.

'What are you doing?' Tony asked.

'Looking for a pin,' he muttered.

'I've got a box of drawing pins in my drawer,' he said and immediately began rooting around at his desk.

'Thanks, but it doesn't work like that,' Mark said desperately.

Tony frowned. 'What do you mean?'

Before Mark could reply, he spotted Stella, a colleague who was late in, shaking the rain drops from her damp umbrella.

He rushed over. Mark couldn't risk an umbrella put up indoors – it was sure to bring bad luck!

'Take it out please Stella,' he instructed.

'It's ok. It's well away from the computers,' she said airily.

'Look, I don't want to be awkward, but -'

'Chill out, Mark. I'll store it in the ladies. It'll dry off in there,' she replied, and trotted off.

Before he could congratulate himself on averting a disaster, Mark's name was called.

It was time for the presentation.

'Good luck, mate,' Tony called.

As Tony was at a more senior level, he wasn't working on this project, so he wasn't required for the meeting.

Mark hadn't managed to find a stray pin, so he crossed his fingers tight instead.

Yet he hesitated when he realised the meeting room they were using was room thirteen.

His heart raced. Oh, why did it have to be room thirteen? Oh just forget about it! he told himself. He needed to focus on the presentation, instead of fretting.

He took a deep breath and began.

'Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming along today...'

***

It was over - and the clients had loved his off the wall website design!

What a relief!

The celebratory mood in the office lifted everyone's spirits. Stella dashed out to buy everyone cream cakes.

'I'll miss all this,' Tony remarked, when he and Mark were tucking into chocolate eclairs.

'Miss what?' he asked absently. Mark was still searching the floor for a stray pin.

'Working here.'

Mark looked up. 'Are you leaving?'

Tony nodded. 'Yep. I've got another job. That's where I was this morning – at an early morning interview. I received a text ten minutes ago. They offered me the position.'

'Great!'

Mark shook Tony's hand.

'Are you still looking for a pin?' Tony asked.

'Er...' Mark was embarrassed.

'This is about attracting good luck, isn't it? When you told Stella off for her umbrella, I thought to myself, I bet Mark's secretly superstitious.'

'Is that such a bad thing?' Mark asked.

'No, but you've got to understand that you make your own luck in life. Look at today and your presentation. That had nothing to do with luck. That was down to one thing, and one thing only – your talent', Tony concluded.

'Maybe,' he muttered.

'Don't be daft. Of course it was. You need to drop all this silly good luck stuff.'

'Well, you wished me good luck earlier,' he pointed out.

Tony shrugged. 'It's just a saying. You need to believe in yourself and your abilities more.'

Mark nodded. He was right.

He admitted to feeling insecure. The good luck rituals and symbols had provided a sense of comfort and security.

But the obsession had ruled his life for long enough. It was time to let go.

'And don't forget that old saying - 'the harder you work, the luckier you get,'' he added.

Then Tony said: 'Hey - why not apply for my job?'

Hmm, Mark mused, that was a thought...

Mark stopped looking for pins, concentrated on his work instead, and the day flew by.

Later, in the gents, when Mark caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he noticed something odd.

He peered closer and his suspicions were confirmed. He'd forgotten to button up his waistcoat - yet that wasn't all. His waistcoat was on inside out!

He chuckled.

He recalled one of Aunt Madge's sayings: 'Clothes put on accidentally inside out are supposed to bring the wearer good luck...'

By Sharon Boothroyd.

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