Darren had never considered himself a lucky sort of person, nothing came easily to him. He fought, struggled and pushed his way through life achieving things despite the way the universe always seemed to conspire against him. No matter what he did, how high he climbed, something unlucky would occur and he felt like he had taken two steps back.
He had made it onto the basketball team but the skin of his teeth, despite the unlucky shot during tryouts, he made it through sheer determination. He studied hard, trying his best but it was the multiple-choice questions that would throw him for a loop. The wording tripped him up and even though he knew the answer, luck seemed to guide his hand to the wrong one.
Worse still, was that a new kid had just transferred in, and this kid seemed to be made of good luck. He was popular, winning his place on the team when one of his teammates twisted an ankle just as this guy had arrived, he found coins, 4 leaf clovers, randomly, on the street. Luck spilled from him like light from a lantern on a cold night, but Darren’s luck remained bad.
Desperate to change that, Darren had bought a lucky rabbit’s foot, a 4 leaf clover and carried a gold coin, but the foot made him feel depressed, after all it hadn’t brought much luck to the rabbit. The four-leaf clover withered and died shortly after he got it and the coin fell out of the hole in his pocket leaving him unlucky and miserable.
That night during the final Basketball game of the year, he had slipped, dropped the ball as he skidded across the floor, the other team stole it, scored and it cost his team the game. Worse, Sara had been in the audience and when he had stolen a glance in her direction, she wasn’t even watching the game. Instead, she was making eyes at the new kid, Mr. Lucky himself.
After the humiliation, he wasn’t too keen on spending time in the change rooms, he showered in record time. Threw on his clothes and bolted so fast he managed to snag his shirt on the way out the door. It tore, leaving him a gaping hole that exposed his left nipple. Mortified, as cruel laughter spread like a wildfire around the small locker filled room. Darren fled, cursing his terrible luck and his utter misfortune.
“Why me?” he wailed silently, as he stomped to his locker, grabbed his belongings and decided to skip the after party. Who wanted to be around those hyenas any way? Angry and frustrated he stomped right out of the school and headed to woods. He would make a fire, he decided, maybe camp.
By the time he arrived, his gear awkward on his back, he was tired and sweaty. The sky already fading into darkness, he set up his little camp and carefully lit a fire. Sighing heavily, he sat back against a log and contemplated his life.
“You know, your luck doesn’t have to stay as it is, I could change it for a price.” The voice startled him, and Darren whipped around to find the source. The new kid stood there, a smirk on his face and an easy confidence that put Darren’s teeth on edge.
“Oh,” he said with disappointment “Its you. What do you want, new kid?” Darren was in no mood for this little twerp and just wanted to be alone, but the new kid sat down on a log and even helped himself to a few marshmallows, licking his fingers before dipping into the bag. Darren winced at the gesture. He himself would have used tongs, or at the very least dry fingers. He wouldn’t be eating any more of those tonight he thought wistfully and angrily poked at the fire with his stick.
“I came to offer you a deal, I take your luck, you take mine, it's simple really.” the boy smiled serenely and Darren’s skin crawled. He didn’t trust this guy as far as he could throw him, and that was saying something. Darren was a big guy, tall, well built, but clumsy and a little awkward. Whereas, this new kid was lean and small, quick and agile. He reminded Darren of Puck from a midsummer night’s dream, a trickster, too clever for his own good.
“Why would you do that?” asked Darren suspiciously. No one did something like that for no good reason, he was aware that people thought he was stupid. They were wrong.
“Well,” said the new kid, examining his fingernails, not looking at Darren directly. “ I know how much you like Sara, but she doesn’t see you does she? Doesn’t even know you are alive, so sad, so sad” he mimed wiping a tear away and Darren wanted to smack him. “With my luck though, maybe you would run into her at just the right time, save her from something perhaps, that always gets a girl’s attention, hmmm? Knowing your luck, she would probably need to rescue you.”
Darren Bristled at the implication and wondered if anyone would notice if this kid made it back a little lumpier, perhaps from a bad fall in the woods. He smiled at his own joke but said nothing. After a while, the new kid continued.
“Think about it Darren, no more slipping on the gym floor, no more missed answers on test, just put down any option, luck will guide your hand to the correct answer, imagine being able to trust that.” Darren looked at him, this sounded way too good to be true.
“It’s amazingly simple Darren, you take my luck, I will take yours, it would be a trade, nice and easy. All you have to do is agree, and you can have all my luck. Luck is a wheel my fine young friend wouldn’t you like to be on top for once?”
“You still haven’t told me why? The what, and the where, and the when, but not the why. Why would any sane person trade good luck for bad?”
“Maybe I’m tired of the easy life, maybe I want to be challenged a little. I’ve always had it easy and now I would like to share that good fortune, you look like you could use a little luck and so here I am with a gift horse, and all you can do is check its teeth. Typical human.” He said and then his eyes widened slightly, and Darren could tell he had said more then he had meant to. A long moment stretched silently between them as they eyed each other over the flames.
“I don’t think so,” Darren said with finality, it was way too good to be true and he didn’t trust any of it.
“You may come to regret this, you know.” Said the new kid, his voice deep and resonant all of a sudden, and Darren shivered.
“Maybe” he admitted, “but I doubt it. I have a feeling this is a little more complicated than you make it sound. How long would I stay on top eh? Before my star begins to rise and yours begins to fall? Luck is a wheel, right? I think I will take my turn on its own.”
“And If Sara never ends up with you?” That stung a little, he had been in love with her since he figured out what love was, but he steeled himself and answered.
“Then I hope whoever she ends up with, will love her like I do. If it’s meant to be luck won't have anything to do with it, and if not, no luck could change that either. “
The new kid stared at him for a while, hatred written on his features replacing the earlier smugness.
“ I guess your not as stupid as you look,” he said with disgust and stood up. Angry, he stomped off into the woods, and Darren was surprised to find that he was no longer angry or embarrassed. Suddenly the events that had brought him out here seemed silly and unimportant. His life wasn’t so bad he decided, after all it wasn’t luck that had gotten him onto the basketball team, It wasn’t luck that was going to get his exams written. It was hard work, and he was ok with that, he wondered if he tried just talking to Sara, would that take the luck out of it too? He smiled, resolved to find out in the morning.