Raelene was beside herself when her wall clock struck thirteen. And it was only seven in the morning. Why did it strike thirteen? Thirteen is meant to be an unlucky number. It’s impossible, mechanically, for a chiming clock to strike thirteen… Unless of course unless the clock is possessed.
It was definitely going to be an unlucky day. She had planned to go with the ladies of the local Horticultural Society in a van to view prize gardens in the area. They did that once a month. They would use Helmy’s van, with Helmy driving. It was more a social get-together. A garden visit was followed by a coffee, a slice of cake, and a gossip.
Raelene phoned up to say she wasn’t going to make it this time. Something had cropped up. She intended, although she didn’t say, to stay at home on this unlucky day and tidy her own backyard.
That was when she slipped, fell own a bank at the back of her house, and broke her leg.
If it falls on a Friday, the 13th day of the month is meant to be unlucky. Today is the 13th but it’s a Thursday so it’s not unlucky. I don’t believe in that stuff anyway. Like a broken mirror will bring seven years bad luck, and it’s bad luck to walk under a ladder, and opening an umbrella inside is asking for trouble. A bride and groom seeing each other on the wedding day before the wedding doesn’t bode well for the future.
Every country has its bad luck things, like in New Zealand it’s a harbinger of death if a fantail bird comes into the house – which they do all the time and they clear the place of spiders and mosquitos which sounds like good luck to me. Besides, when you don’t have hummingbirds it’s nice to have little birds fluttering around. Just don’t have a cat or keep it away.
On the other hand, having an ornament or picture of an elephant in the house is meant to create good vibes – although it should be facing the exit door apparently. Then having specific crystals in the house is meant to bring love, happiness, prosperity, and good luck. My Aunt Sybil has a heavy ceramic elephant, various crystals on the window reflecting sunlight, and a dream catcher in her house. She claims it’s why her house is so welcoming. She also has fantails and a cat. The other day she was trying to catch the cat because it was trying to catch a fantail and she knocked the ceramic elephant and it fell on her head and now she’s dead.
Owen had this thing about calendars. It would bring bad luck to hang a calendar on a wall before New Year’s Day. It was equally bad luck to turn a month over before midnight. The prior-to-New-Year would bring bad luck all year; the prior-to-the-first-of-the-month would bring bad luck all month.
Leila, the wife of Owen, had no such hang-ups. She was super-organized. Sometimes she might even turn the calendar over on the 28th or 29th even if it wasn’t February. It became a full-time job for Owen to keep watch.
This was more than a game; it was an epic challenge. Owen was serious about it; Leila though it was nonsense. If Owen hadn’t shown such passion for something so ridiculous then she would never bothered even to look at a calendar. Her stubbornness had grown however, and now she would secretly creep out of bed around 30 minutes to midnight and turn the calendar month over. She would hardly have dozed off before Owen was out of bed and returning the calendar month back to its rightful last 25 minutes.
Of course in the morning they were both tired and grumpy, which Owen attributed to bad luck and Leila attributed to stupidity.
New Year was coming up and Owen conceived an idea. Each year they would order a tailor-made calendar with pictures they had selected themselves. For example, January had a photograph of the long-deceased pet hamster Leila had as a child. Owen secretly had an extra calendar made with twelve Decembers and twelve identical photos. He secretly hung it on the wall before retiring.
Around 11.30 there was a quiet commotion going on. Owen had stayed awake. Leila had crept out of bed. Leila returned and said to Owen, “I suppose you think that’s funny.” Owen sniggered. He had won!
The next morning, to his dismay, there hung January with the hamster photograph. In fact every month of the year was January with the hamster photograph. It was going to be a bad-luck year.
Why did I answer the phone that morning? I had been vacuuming the house. When the phone rang I had to turn the vacuum cleaner off, and step over the vacuum cleaner’s cords and tubes to reach the phone.
Was I interested in doing a survey? It would only take a few minutes and I would go into the draw to win a trip for two to Hawaii.
Since I’d gone to all that trouble of turning off the vacuum cleaner and stepping over it, I thought I might as well. So several questions later (the questions were all about what brand of soft drink is imbibed in the household, so I told them a lie; coca cola I said because it was the only brand I could think of) I was in the draw to win a trip for two to Hawaii.
And win it I did! Wow! I had never won a thing before and now hubby and I were off to Hawaii!
That’s when the trouble started. Our son drove us to the airport, and on the way home (unbeknown to us) he crashed into a wall, wrote off his car, and broke both legs. Not long after take-off we were diverted. For two days we were stuck in a foreign airport. The airline people were most unhelpful. We had to pay for accommodation and meals instead of being in Hawaii all expenses paid. When eventually we did arrive in Hawaii the hotel was booked out. Since we hadn’t arrived on the appropriate day the hotel had presumed we were not going to turn up and booked other visitors into what was meant to be our room. The hotel wouldn’t give a refund because it was part of a promotion and no money had changed hands. So we had to pay for a further three days accommodation and food elsewhere.
We’re back home now from our all-expenses paid vacation. I’ve never been so happy to be doing housework. At present I’m vacuuming and…
Cristobel’s bad luck seemed to have no end. Compared to her adult-life misfortunes, her mass of traumatic childhood misadventures – death of parents, broken limbs, failure at school – paled into insignificance.
Just after Cristobel suffered a severe case of scabies, her husband slipped in the garage and cut his head off at the neck on the saw bench. On the way to the funeral, Cristobel ran over her pet cat.
Need her misfortunes continue to be listed? Possibly not, except she dropped dead suddenly with a heart attack not long after the death of the cat. I was there at the time.
I realised she was clutching a winning lottery ticket. The excitement was obviously too much.