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R is for Raffle

Tim Pratt's stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and other nice places. He's won a Hugo for his short fiction (and lost Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, and Nebula Awards). He lives in Berkeley CA with his wife and son. Find him online at timpratt.org

Jenn Reese lives in Los Angeles and is currently writing a middle-grade adventure series for Candlewick Press. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons and the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities, among others. Follow her adventures at jennreese.com.

Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, gardener and aikidoka living in Berkeley, California with her husband and son. She's had fiction in Strange Horizons, Polyphony, The Year's Best Fantasy, Escape Pod and other nice places. She just finished her first middle-grade novel, "Keaton T., Junior Gene Hacker" and is looking for representation. For more, visit heathershaw.org

Greg van Eekhout's fiction for adults and children includes the novels Norse Code and Kid vs. Squid and stories published in Asimov's, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and other places. He lives in San Diego, CA. For more information, visit writingandsnacks.com.

The raffle at the spring fair always had the usual sort of prizes--canned hams, dinner for two at Monty's, a new black-and-white TV for the grand prize--before Serena Draffin came in last year and said she wanted to donate her life. "It's perfectly good, and there's still a lot of use in it," she told me, "but I just don't want it anymore." Being in charge of the raffle is an important responsibility, and I take it seriously, but our first rule is never to turn down any donation that might make a decent prize, what with one man's trash being another's treasure. So I agreed, and Serena wrote it all down on a little sheet of paper so we'd have something to hand over to the winner. We did the drawing at the end of the night, and I was sad that I wasn't allowed to take part, what with me being the one running the show, because I'd always thought Serena's husband Doyle was a handsome man with kind eyes, and she had a lovely home on Willoughby Street besides. But it was old Mrs. Harrigan, the widow, who won Serena's life, and to his credit Doyle was gracious about her stepping into his wife's place. Serena was last seen on a train heading southbound out of town, without a bit of luggage, and the railway conductor said she looked radiant.
Radiant or not, she started something. This year we're getting all sorts of odd donations for the raffle. Stanley Blakeney donated his skill at football, saying he doesn't really like the game and is sick of the pressure. Antoinette Bolton brought her mother-in-law, who's always been a little peevish since she doesn't have a grandbaby to dote on. The widower, Mr. Cosper, brought his heart, hoping that whoever wins it will love and keep it. Myrtle Hitt, the most serious fourth-grader you've ever seen, brought her childhood, because she's in a hurry to grow up, and surely there are those in town who'd make better use of youth than she does. Roy Arbuckle tried to donate his hatred for the Japanese, saying he doesn't need it anymore, but I told him this wasn't a white elephant sale. You've got to have standards. Anyway, we'll make enough money this year to put a new steeple on the church for sure.
I can't win anything in the raffle, of course, but I can donate. My donation is right here. It's my most precious secret, wrapped up in linen. Curious about it? Well sure you are. So buy a ticket, then. Buy two. It's for a good cause, and everyone's a winner.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
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