“Ryan, our daughter is depending on you to show up for her party today.” I hesitated for a moment turning to look at the colorful balloons bestrewn across the kitchen floor.

“Danielle I wouldn’t miss her party,” he proclaimed. “I can’t apologize more than I already have… I’ve gone to the meetings. I’ve completed the steps. Isn’t it time to cut me a bit of slack?”

I have picked up our shattered pieces and glued them back together for long enough. He could no longer afford to gamble with our daughter’s heart.

“Trust needs to be re-established, Ryan— without it we’ll never be able to move forward. This family can not shoulder yet another heart break.” My attention focused on all the unwrapped presents. “Do the right thing this time.”

Hanging up the phone, I immediately dove back into party preparations. I hoped that it would becalm my anxiety because a wave of disappointments often followed that man. I wouldn’t allow it to envelop this household…not on our daughter’s birthday, not this time.

Gambling quickly became Ryan’s addiction without him even knowing it. He lusted tirelessly for that feeling of winning “just one more time”. Within six months he had been gambling daily. Coming home from work he’d venture off into the room, the one with the computer. It’s the place he voluntarily traded his family in for. A place of gorgeous sounds and flashing lights. His compulsion led him down the path to stealing. He did so from both me, and his workplace. Our family was torn asunder.

Guests finally arrived at the party. Half an hour in there was an unexpected knock at the door. It was Ryan. He cheekily quipped, “I bet you didn’t think I would come!”

I am no betting woman. What I have though, is the best of poker faces. For that day only, for that moment in time, the house won.

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Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
3 months ago

A moving story. The gambler holds out hope for the future at the expense of the present. At least in this case there was eventually a timely response.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
3 months ago

Susan is right. It is so moving. My emotions are mixed as I read this story, Melissa. But in the end, I feel so happy that finally, home wins over addiction to gambling. Well-written.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
3 months ago

You’re welcome, Melissa.

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Sandra OReilly
Sandra OReilly (@sandra-oreilly)
3 months ago

Well done Melissa for capturing the horror that gambling can inflict on the rest of the family. Well written.

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei (@margarida-brei)
3 months ago

I like your play on the word “house”, Melissa. Gambling is such a horrific addiction.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
3 months ago

Gambling is such a destructive addiction and you’ve described so well what effect it has on families, Melissa. It takes a strong woman to tackle it and that is what your protagonist is, ultimately for the sake of her daughter. That final paragraph is brilliant.

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
3 months ago

Great story, Melissa. Like Margarida, I enjoyed the play on the word “house”. The title and picture drew me in and the story kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. I hope Ryan sees this moment as the first of a new kind of winning streak!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
3 months ago

A very convincing picture of a family, suffering from the husband’s/father’s gambling addiction. You have conveyed the emotional situation in a very realistic way, Melissa,with the fear and uncertainty of what might happen in he future. I love your play with words, for example, “I bet…” and “poker face.” Very well done!

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Heather C
Heather C (@heather-c)
2 months ago

I always enjoy your stories Melissa. This was excellent, per usual!

Henry Vinicio Valerio Madriz
Henry Vinicio Valerio Madriz (@henry-vinicio-valerio-madriz)
2 months ago

Action from beginning to end! What a blast!

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