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Contemporary Christian Drama

THE WINNER


“I’ve got a plan,” Annie said enthusiastically. “I’ll have a garage sale! She glanced at her best friend Tuck, who was less than enthusiastic about her lofty ambitions, considering the forecast. He continued to feed himself a twisted glazed donut from a pink box while he sat on a black metal stool in Annie’s garage.


“Tuck! Well, aren’t you going to say anything”? Tuck held up a finger and nodded as he finished chewing the last of his confection. He cleared his throat. “I was just going to say that I don't think this is a good idea.” His brown eyes were pleading with Annie to hear him out. “Those puppy dog eyes won’t work on me today. Besides, I need another thousand to pay rent next month. “How much have you made so far?” He asked cautiously.


Not deterred by his doubtful tone, Annie proudly exclaimed, “I haven’t made anything yet, but I’m halfway there with the thousand I keep in my savings for emergencies.” 


She grabbed a long, plastic folding table from inside the garage and hauled it a few feet beyond her garage door entrance.


Tuck peered at the overcast sky. He could smell the earthy scent on the dry soil and he knew it wouldn’t be much longer before the torrential downpour overcast the day and Annie’s plans. 


“Annie, I really think it’s going to rain. It’s already sprinkling” he got up from the black stool and walked toward her. He lifted his hand to the sky and tiny rivulets of water puddled in his palm and ran down his forearm.


Annie continued to unfold the plastic table and place it upright before turning to Tuck, “it can’t rain!” she exclaimed. “I need this money. How am I going to explain to my parents that I need help again?” she asked Tuck rhetorically. 


She wanted to prove herself responsible and financially mature, like her older sister. Tuck merely patted her gently on the shoulder, sympathizing with her plight. 


“You’re always welcome to stay at my place until you get back on your feet if this doesn’t work out. Besides, it’s been more than a year since you last asked them for any help.” he gave her a rueful grin.


Annie and Tuck had grown up living next to one another. He was her first friend, besides her sister, and she never let him forget it and how much he meant to her. Sometimes it bordered on manipulation the way she used their friendship to get what she wanted. 


Most days, Annie was a listening ear as Tuck confessed his undying love for Rosaline. It would explain why he frequented the bakery even though he wasn’t really a sweets person.

No sooner than Tuck spoke those words, a steady and sudden rain pelted against the tabletop, ricocheting and hitting Annie in the face. Her hair became wet and soon her clothes were drenched as well. 


She refolded the plastic table as quickly as she could. She and Tuck carried the table into her garage, leaning it against a concrete wall as they stood, smelling the petrichor and watching the rain pour from the heavens. 


“Maybe we should wait it out. We haven’t had rain in a while and I doubt it will last longer than five minutes.” She said with the last bit of hope she had.


Thoughts ran through her head a mile a minute about how she could make the thousand needed to pay her rent. She admonished herself for going to the concert, buying the merchandise, and getting as close as possible to her favorite band. She couldn’t pass it up. 


In her mind, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. No bands ever came to Berry. Even though Berry had roughly 100k people, it wasn’t a tourist attraction. 


The newest mayor was a billionaire. Rumor has it that he used some of his own money to fund the stadium that took less than a year to build. He said he wanted to turn their small desert town around and bring in talent.


Truthfully, she wasn’t sure how she felt about that prospect. More people meant more money for their town, but it also meant crowded streets, stores, and malls. It meant they would build more apartment buildings, eventually blocking the serene view of the mountains. It meant city dwellers enacting their culture, beliefs, and attitudes on their town. Things would never be the same.


So much was changing, she didn’t know if she was ready for it. She hadn’t expected her parents to have friends that could rent out the entire house to her for less than most people’s rent in the area. It was a wonderful college graduation present. She was ecstatic at the offer.


It wouldn’t have been her first choice based on location alone; however, it gave her solitude without distractions to create her art pieces. This house was the perfect starter house for Annie to rent. The house is a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom. It sits on about ⅓ acre of land and there’s enough space between her and the neighbors’ house for her to have cookouts during the summer without too much commotion. 


She’s paid her rent on time and even in advance sometimes. But after quitting her job, which was a sound move to preserve her mental health, she quickly depleted her savings and made some poor choices. Now she was faced with either getting evicted and possibly ruining her parent’s reputation with their friends by not paying her rent or asking her parents to bail her out and being viewed as the irresponsible daughter, yet again.

In the two years she lived here, she had come to see the house as her home. Her art adorned the walls and while she hadn’t been able to renovate the home like she would have had it been hers, she painted a fresh coat of paint in different rooms, making it feel like different themes throughout the house. 


The open floor plan where the kitchen dining room and the living room met made the house seem more spacious. She painted it a bright white. Faux trees were strategically placed throughout the living room and dining room.


As she thinks about these things, the rain pelts down harder, not letting up. Tuck is still standing next to her, “it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon” he sticks his hands deep in his jeans pockets and hunches over. He looks like an overgrown teenager instead of the successful real estate mogul that he is. 


His family and Annie’s family are both in real estate. It’s one of the reasons their parents get along so well and why he and Annie became best friends. Their parents were frequently hosting get-togethers, and the children learned to play and entertain themselves, which led to their current friendship of over twenty-five years.


Annie sighs, putting her face in her hands. “Why don’t you just tell your parents the truth? That you made a mistake? I’m sure they’ll understand that plans don’t always go according to plan.” Tuck reasoned.


She shook her head and relented. “Let's head inside,” she pressed the button for the electric door closer and the garage door closed shut, blocking the elements that continued to pelt against the garage door.


Once inside, Tuck sat on the sofa, and Annie headed to the kitchen. “Do you want a bottle of water? I was about to grab one for myself.”


“Yeah, sure,” Tuck said, reclining on the sofa with both arms spread out on either side of him, resting on the cushions.


“Here ya go,” Annie says while handing him a cold bottle of water.


“You’re the only person I know that prefers room temperature water. “He said, taking a swig of the cold liquid.


“I guess that makes me special.” She shrugged and downed almost half the bottle. “I guess I was dehydrated. She says, looking at the half-full bottle before setting it on a coaster on the coffee table.


“You know what you need to do,” Tuck encouraged her.


“I know” she felt worse the more she thought of it. She just needed to rip it off like a bandaid and call her parents.

“I’ll give you some privacy,” Tuck said, standing and heading to the guest bathroom around the corner.


Annie nodded and dialed her parents’ landline. “Hi Mom, how are you?”


“Oh Annie, what a surprise. Your father and I were just talking about how proud we are of you. You’ve come a long way, you know? How are things with your art and the house?”


“Well,” she took a deep breath, “things haven’t been as good as I would like.” She continued telling her mom about the art studio she left and how she needed help again paying her rent. Her parents would probably be disappointed, but she did it. She told them the truth. 


She waited while her mom was silent on the other end. “Mom?” Annie spoke into the phone.” Are you there?”


“Yes, I’m here, sweetheart. I was just thinking. Your Dad went fishing with a friend of his. Why don’t I call you back after talking to him when he gets home? How does that sound?”


“That sounds good. Thank you Mom”


They continued the call catching up on the latest news, her parents’ lives as empty nesters, and how they were enjoying retirement. Annie also shared news about the potential growth in her town and Tuck’s obsession with Rosaline. 


“Don’t you worry about a thing. You know the Lord supplies all of our needs. Everything is going to be alright.” they ended the call and surprisingly Annie felt better since the weight of the secret had been lifted off of her chest.


After the phone call, Tuck ordered pizza and they watched a few episodes of a popular comedy sitcom. It was Saturday and both enjoyed the relaxing day. 


Annie’s phone chirped, and she saw a missed call and voicemail. It was her parents’ house phone. She listened to the voicemail. 


“Hi sweetie, your father and I spoke and we will help you, but this is the last time. You will have to come and pick it up. We love you sweetheart.” the message ended.


“What’s wrong?” Tuck said, reading Annie’s face.


“It looks like I’m staying the night at my parents’ house.” Tuck looked on, not understanding her. 


“Apparently, they’re willing to help me this last time, but I have to drive to them to pick up the cash.” She sighed.


“Well, that’s a relief! From the expression on your face I thought they said no.” he laughed. “I’m going to get going. I’m going to stop at the bakery before heading home.” He smirked.


“Tuck,” Annie said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Take your own advice and tell Rosaline the truth. Tell her how you feel about her. The worst she could do is to say she doesn’t feel the same way or that she’s already taken.”


“You’re right,” Tuck said bashfully at her words. He knew it was time, but it didn’t make it any easier. He was afraid of being rejected. Rosaline was beautiful, and he was, well, he wasn’t every girl’s dream guy, at least on the outside.


Annie pulled him in for a hug. “Thanks for everything,” she said as they embraced. “Go get her tiger!” They both laughed as he exited through the front door of the house.


Annie quickly gathered her weekender bag, put in her church dress, toiletries, and everything she would need for this impromptu overnight visit. She locked the house and drove two hours to her parents’ beautiful home, not far from the beach.


She knocked on the door and entered using her emergency key. “I’m home,” she shouted throughout the house. Her parents sat under the umbrella in the backyard. She closed the front door and dropped her weekender bag in the foyer, removing her shoes as well. 


When she reached the french doors to the outside she said again, “I’m home”. Her mom stood, “Oh honey we thought that was you” she walked over and gave her mom a hug, next was her dad. They embraced, and he extended his hand, motioning for her to sit. 


The seat was hot from the sun’s warm rays. “Is this the hot seat?” she laughed nervously.

Her mom smiled. We made your favorite, a virgin frozen strawberry margarita. Her mom said, extending the cool drink with a pink umbrella. 


“Thank you,” she smiled sheepishly and took a large gulp before getting a brain freeze. She put her hand to her head until the pain went away.


Her dad straightened in his chair. “So your mom tells me that you’re low on your savings and need help to pay your mortgage?”


“Well, I didn’t say that to mom”


“But is it true?”


She lowered her head in shame, her voice barely above a whisper, “Yes sir”


“So tell us what happened”


She looked at her father incredulously, “I already told mom what happened,” she said more forcefully than she meant to.


“The entire story Anne Elizabeth '' her Dad used her first and middle name. She came out with the entire story. 


How her boss at the art gallery had been showing nepotism to certain employees, allowing them to work with well-known artists and get overtime. He knew she was a young artist and needed the backing of a reputable art gallery like his to get her name out there. 


He had been asking her out, and she always thought it was as a friend or a work date, but he made his intentions clear one night when it was just the two of them and he made his move. 


She barely escaped the clutches of his grubby hands. She left and sent him an email the following Monday stating that she was quitting. At first, she drowned herself in pity. 


Eventually, she told Tuck what had happened, and he wanted to give the guy a piece of his mind. Annie talked him out of it. Instead, they ended up playing video games and eating ice cream. To balance things out they took a couple of long hikes and watched an inspiring religious program on tv that reminded her of her worth. The concert was the last part of her healing but since she couldn’t afford it, she shouldn’t have gone.


Her parents listened in shock to the whole story and consoled their daughter before sharing a secret of their own.


“Sweetheart, thank you for your honesty. Don’t worry about your former boss at the art gallery, he’ll be dealt with.” her father said, taking a sip of his drink. “Now, for the rest of it.” Her father slid a manila envelope to her. She opened it and her eyes lit up when she realized what it was. 


“You bought the house for me?”


“Many years ago, the year before you were born.”


“Wait, I don’t understand. I thought a friend of yours owned the house.”


“Well, we weren’t really forthcoming about that” her mom chimed in. “The house is actually owned by the family trust and we had it taken out of our trust and put into your trust. It is owned by you now.” Her mom said, surprising her with the shock of the century.


“What?...I?” In shock, she stuttered as she looked at the paperwork, and then she was really confused. “Then what happened to all the money I’ve been paying for the rent?”


“You’ve paid about 2k a month for about two years. After some very good investments in real estate and a small bit of compound interest, your money has doubled and now is at about $100k. We also put that in your trust. It’s yours.”


“Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier that my plans didn’t work as I wanted.” she said. She didn’t know the plans that her parents had for her. This was better than she could ever imagine.


The End.





November 01, 2022 22:09

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