It began when a thin strip of paper hidden inside a cookie told you your lucky number was 5. You realized your life was full of luck when you noticed five acorns beside the newspaper on the front step, when you found yourself in Aisle 5 at the grocery, when you watched the skeletal red limbs of the 4 on your alarm clock pop into a proud 5, regal and plump like a Shakespearean king.
You started to work 5s into your life because you’d never heard a man complain he was too lucky. When times were good: 5-day stays at 5-star hotels, taking the kids to adopt the puppy in the fifth crate and naming him Five. When times were less good (they were never bad with luck on your side): entertaining five friends, enjoying five sips of whiskey at a time. You were glad the cookie hadn’t given you lucky number 27 because that would mean more counting, and you were always counting.
When you tried to schedule for 5/5, you were told sooner would be better. You walked in counting 1 step 2 steps 3 steps 4 steps 5. You pressed the button for the third floor like it might unlock a curse and spent the elevator ride watching button 5 and feeling guilty.
No wall in the waiting room had 5 empty chairs in a row and there were no 5s on any of the check-in forms and it occurred to you for the first time that good old 3147 Strawberry Lane—how many times had you written that address?—didn’t have any 5s in it.
You searched the doctor for 5s (6 buttons, 3 visible polka dots on tie, 7 letters in first name, 4 letters in last name) and tapped your foot 12345 and when you were told that if you laid off the Lucky Strikes you had at best 5 years, all you could do was laugh.