Striking Gold.

She marched out of the casino, chin held high as the city’s lights reflected in her charcoal-black wayfarers. This was the biggest success she’d had in months, and her purse was stuffed with hundred dollar bills. She could afford the down payment on that pretty little apartment now, and maybe a new pair of shoes…

A loud sob interrupted her thoughts. Sitting on the curb to her left was a blonde, mascara bleeding down her cheeks and a cigarette dangling between her fingers.

"What’s wrong, kid?" She sat on the curb next to the blonde as a taxi rocketed by. With hiccups between words, the blonde explained her woes: after her boyfriend-turned-lowlife kicked her out, she’d lost everything but a hundred bucks in a lousy round of poker.

She opened her purse, tugged out a tissue, and handed it to the blonde. “Listen here, kid. Love is a whole lot like gambling. You lose more often than you win, but you tweak your strategy, you learn from your mistakes, you keep playing. You swap your cigarettes for bubblegum,” she gently took the cigarette out of the blonde’s hand and crushed it on the pavement, “and you buy a decent pair of sunglasses and practice both your poker face and your winning face in the mirror. But that kind of effort doesn’t guarantee a winner. It’s a combination of chance and a carefully played hand. Even a good hand will lose with a bad play. Sometimes people get lucky on their first round, most play for years till they hit a jackpot. But Blondie, here’s the thing. You play and you play and you play until you either give up, or you strike gold.”

The blonde mopped away the last of her mascara, sniffed, and nodded. “Maybe you’re right…”

"I know I’m right, Blondie."

"How?"

She stood up and reached a hand down to the blonde while waving down another taxi. “Because it’s the same thing someone told me a few years ago when I was sitting on this curb trying to smoke and cry at the same time.”