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Drama Inspirational Fiction

Olivia had been busy since she entered the office at a7am. She had no time for lunch and now that she was on her way home for the day her stomach let her know she was famished.  She turned left on Third Street and pulled into the parking lot of her favorite take out place, The Golden Wok. She loved the fact that she could stop at any number of restaurants in the city at any time and they would be open. She also loved that fact that they delivered!  But not tonight. She was far to hungry to wait for delivery.

Just minutes after walking out with her favorite meal she was parking her car and walking up to her two-bedroom condo. Olivia lived alone and as she walked through the door she felt it. It was so quiet and a little depressing.  

With the takeout containers left on the table she went to change into her pajamas. Another depressing truth. At 7pm on a Tuesday she was eating take out in her pajamas, alone. 

The voice mail tone sounded on her phone as she walked back into the dining room. She hadn’t heard it ring while in the bathroom changing into her crisply pressed pajamas. Olivia didn’t understand why anyone would want to be clothed in wrinkled rough fabric. Everything in her wardrobe was crisply pressed.

She picked up her phone to look at the missed call number. She didn’t recognize the number, but the area code was from her home town of Cherry Creek. She grabbed a plate from the cupboard and a fork from the drawer and sat herself at the table. She punched in her voice mail code and began to dish the food onto her plate. She dropped the fork as the words rung in her ear. “No,” her voice dropped off in a breathless whisper.  

Olivia jumped up and ran to her room. She grabbed her suitcase and began filling it with the necessities. She went to the kitchen and cleaned her plate in the sink. She grabbed her purse, her suitcase and as an afterthought she grabbed the container of Chinese food that sat on the table.  She was out the door in less than 15 minutes after the call that would change her world forever.

When she was on the road and out of the city she picked up her phone and spoke into it, “Call Marie.”

Marie was Olivia’s boss. She was also her closest friend in the city. “Marie it’s me. I just received a call that my dad passed away. I’m on my way home right now. I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

“Oh, my Olivia, I’m so sorry honey. Drive carefully and call me when you get there. You don’t worry about anything. You be safe!” Her friend encouraged her.  

Olivia knew that Cherry Creek was a long drive. The 4 hours passed so slowly it seemed like an eternity. She wanted to get there so quickly, even though she knew her dad was already gone, and she didn’t get to say goodbye. She suddenly wanted to be around his things and be with her family. They were never close enough to get together on a regular basis, but they did check in quite often. 

On the way she had called her aunts Gladys and Sherry. They would be driving in the following day. She stopped only once to add gas and grab a coffee. Her favorite gas station with the huge neon red and blue sign had the coffee she loved. She pulled into town a little after 11:30pm. 

The streets were dark and empty at this late hour. She drove east though town and turned right onto Wildflower Road. Her dad’s farm was 3 miles from town. As she drove down the winding driveway she began to cry. It hit her that when she arrived he wouldn’t be waiting on the porch for her. He would’ve been so excited for her to see his farm. She hadn’t been back since he moved in 3 years before, but he always talked about how much he loved being in the country. 

She hadn’t thought about the fact that she’d be all by herself in the house with her thoughts and emotions. When her mom passed, they had each other. Now she was by herself.

She pulled up to the house and to her surprise there were lights on and cars in the drive. She parked and walked up to the steps feeling confused. She jumped when the screen door creaked open and smacked shut. A middle-aged woman appeared on the porch. 

“Oh, you must be Olivia!” The woman exclaimed.

“Yes, I am, may I ask who you are and why you’re in my father’s house?”

“I’m Elizabeth, my dear. Your father and I were dear friends.” The woman said.  “Come here dear.” Elizabeth pulled Olivia in for an uncomfortable hug. 

Olivia simply patted her back and stood stiffly and waited for the hug to end. 

“Come on in here. There are some people who want to meet you. Why don’t you leave your bags there?” She pointed and steered Olivia into the living room.

Olivia spent the next hours in a daze listening to her father’s friends tell stories. The door just kept creeping open and slamming shut as people came and went. 

After the final condolence was given Olivia felt as though she’d been hit by a truck. She sat down on the step with her head in her hands.

“Where did all those people come from? It’s 2am for Pete’s sake!” Olivia asked Elizabeth who still stood by the door.

“Your dad was so loved here. As soon as news got out, they called to see if they could come. They wanted to be here to welcome you and console you. They all brought food, so you shouldn’t go hungry while you’re her. Your dad talked about you all the time honey. Everyone that came feels like they already know you.”

“But they don’t know me. I am not sure what I’m supposed to feel. I drove right here without even thinking of what comes next. Now what am supposed to do?”

When her dad moved to Cherry Creek, Olivia thought he’d lost his mind. Small town didn’t begin to describe the size of this place. It housed one gas station that also served as the post office and grocery store.  It also had a cute café and a bar. There was a small newspaper office that printed a weekly paper, but nothing else. He found this quiet little patch of land with a cottage and barn and said it was his dream retirement. 

Olivia could not understand the allure. She visited when he first moved into the house but hadn’t been back since.  Her dad came to the city at least once a month and she decided he probably needed that big city fix more than she needed the small-town fix. He asked her to come, but she had always been too busy with work.

“I’m going to go home and let you get some sleep honey; I’ll be back tomorrow. We can go through your dad’s papers and find his will. He has everything laid out and ready for you.” Elizabeth patted Olivia on the shoulder and walked to her car.

Olivia was left with so many questions, but she couldn’t bring herself to verbalize any of them. Who was this woman and how did she know so much about her dad and his wishes? Why hadn’t her dad mentioned her before?

She showered and fell into a fitful sleep.

She woke the next morning with the sun shinning through the small window in the spare room.  She had a slight headache and was not ready to face this day. She chose the spare room the night before, because she was not ready to face her dad’s room. 

Olivia entered the kitchen dressed and looking for coffee and something for her headache.  A small red gift box with a white ribbon and bow sat on the counter with a note.

The note read, “Good morning Olivia. I hope you were able to get some sleep last night. This gift is something your dad wanted you to have. I’ll leave you alone with it this morning. There’s a letter explaining everything. I’ll be over this afternoon to check on you.” Elizabeth’s words were so confusing. She made it sound like her dad knew he would die and had planned for her return to the house. 

This was all suddenly too much for her to handle. She teared up again and sat with the red box. She ran her fingers over it gently and began to sob. 

She dragged herself off the bar stool to look for the coffee and Ibuprophen. She found both and took it and the box into the living room. Her dad’s cottage was small and cozy. The wood furniture appeared to be handmade. She could see the craftsmanship and it was made from real wood. It wasn’t like the store-bought stuff that was made of manufactured wood or plastic made to look like wood. The plaid curtains fit the country cottage theme and the stone fireplace rounded out the living room to make it warm and very homey. She found a spot on the couch and pulled a beautifully crocheted blanket over her lap. 

The box sat in her lap. She removed the cover and lifted the folded paper from it.

My dear Olivia,

If you are reading this, then the cancer has ended my earthly life. I know how confusing this must be for you and I am sorry that I didn’t tell you about it. I was diagnosed 6 months ago, and I didn’t even really have time to deal with it myself. My sickness took over my body so quickly and I couldn’t burden you with taking care of me. When I didn’t visit last month, it was on my doctor’s recommendation.

I’ve made my life in Cherry Creek. I have a special lady in my life, and I have a business that I love! Elizabeth has been here for every moment of my sickness and well before that. I’m saddened that my journey will end so soon after it has begun here, but I’m so happy to have had this time. 

I want you to know that I had a great life. Your mother was the great love of my life. When she passed, I was so lonely and looking for something to fill my time. I started to play around with wood working again. I used to make wood toys with my grandfather, and I found some of his toy making plans in a box in the attic. I also found this toy that we made together. I want you to have it and pass it on to your children when that time comes. I love you so much and I’m so very proud of the woman you’ve become! I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.  

But my dear Olivia, you have got to slow down and start enjoying this life. It will go so quickly. Please spend some time in Cherry Creek and get to know it and love it like I did. I think you might find some peace that you’ve been looking for. 

Please be kind to Elizabeth. She has been kind to me and stayed by my side during this terrible time. I hope you’ll let her help you through this and enjoy getting to know her as I have.

I love you my dear.

Dad

Olivia sat with her tears and the wooden train engine her dad had given her. She had so many unanswered questions and his letter only left her wondering more.

***

The screen door slapping against the wood frame woke Olivia with a start. She had trouble opening her eyes and focusing on the person standing near the couch. She had cried herself to sleep after reading her dad’s letter. 

She sat up and rubbed her eyes. 

Elizabeth came a little closer and asked, “Is it alright if I come in?”

“You’re here you might as well stay. I think we need to talk. Can I make you some coffee?” 

“Yes, that would be lovely.”

Olivia puttered around the kitchen making the coffee and stalling a little bit. She wanted to gather her thoughts and questions before they sat down to talk.

“I’m going to wash up a bit while the coffee is brewing.”

“Take your time, dear.” Elizabeth called after her. 

Olivia knew why her father was drawn to Elizabeth. She had a calming presence and her voice was soft and gentle. Olivia heard a hint of the south in her words and wondered where she was from.

The two women sat across from each other at the white painted farmhouse kitchen table. A tray with mugs, coffee condiments and the coffee carafe sat between them. Elizabeth had brought some caramel rolls which were warming in the oven. 

Olivia’s first question surprised Elizabeth. “Where are you from? I hear a little southern drawl in your voice.”

“Oh! My! Well I wasn’t expecting that to be your first question, but that’s wonderful!” 

The rest of the afternoon was spent with easy conversation between them. They talked about how her dad and Elizabeth met. They cried about his cancer diagnosis and his death. Elizabeth had been a hospice nurse before her retirement, so she knew just how to care for sick patients and what they needed in their last moments. 

“I begged him to tell you and let you come. He said you had been through so much with your mother’s death that he didn’t want you to see him die the same way.  He wanted you to remember him as a healthy man. I can see his point, but I’m so sorry you didn’t get to say goodbye.”

“Thinking back to the last few phone conversations I had with him, I think I did get to say goodbye. I thought he seemed down, and we talked a little longer than usual each time. I think maybe he was letting me know something was wrong, but I was too busy to notice.”

“Alright, we don’t want to travel down that path. I want to show you something.”

They walked down a short rocky path to the humungous red barn. Olivia knew the property had a barn, but she thought it was old and dilapidated. On her first trip she didn’t notice what a beauty it was. 

They entered through a small side door and Olivia gasp at the sight before her. “What is all this?”

“This is what your dad left to you. It’s his legacy and your inheritance.” Elizabeth said. She stayed by the door as Olivia walked through the rows of finished and unfinished wooden toys and beautiful works of art. There were also crocheted blankets and beautiful intricately made quilts hanging on racks.”

“Your dad wanted to showcase the talents of people in town. He made most of the wooden toys you see, and he took the rest on consignment. He has quite a business here. The city office which is also the Chamber of Commerce advertises this on the website and we get visitors all the time.”

She let this soak in for Olivia before she continued.

“Your dad lives on the Wildflower Drive. Lots of people turn off the main road and want to drive along a scenic road. There’s also a revitalization initiative in town. They’re trying really hard to get the town recognized as a place to stop and stay. There’s a beautiful bed and breakfast in town and several cottages to rent. Your dad was so involved with this. It’s what kept him busy and happy.”

“I can’t believe I didn’t know any of this. Why didn’t I just come once when he asked me?”

“Oh dear, he knew how busy you were building your career. He was so proud of you.  He told everyone he talked to about his big city daughter and her career as a book editor for one of the biggest publishing companies.”

“After you took the year off to take care of your mom, he didn’t want to interfere with any of your plans. He did all of this for you. He knew one day you would have to slowdown and he hoped you would come to visit him. He hoped you would fall in love with this town like he did and decide to stay.”

“But my life is somewhere else. My job is somewhere else.”

“The choice is completely yours dear. He set everything up in his will. If you decide not to stay this will remain open and he has a staff prepared to run it. There is a large community of transplants that want to make this town a real destination. They want to keep your dad’s memory alive. They volunteered to run this place when your dad became sick and couldn’t be out here anymore.” 

“Well, I guess I have some thinking to do. He must have known I was unhappy in the city. I don’t have time for friends, I don’t have time for romance. I work to much and eat take out six nights a week. A change of pace wouldn’t really be an unwelcome change. Also, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing my own book.”

Elizabeth smiled at her. “Toying with anything you love is worth the time, that’s what your dad would have said. I’ll leave you now and I’ll be back tomorrow. We can visit some more and finish the rest of the plans. I am so glad you’re here dear!”

“Me too! I feel like he’s here with me.”

“He is dear. The more time you spend here the more you will understand why.”

October 03, 2020 00:44

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23 comments

19:10 Jul 11, 2021

Great story that covers essential aspects of life in a firm and stylized narration.

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19:13 Jul 11, 2021

Thank you so much! I appreciate you reading my story!

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Zea Bowman
02:13 Oct 07, 2020

Hey, Karlynn! First of all, great story! Second, I wanted to let you know that I wrote a "Zombies Sound Safer Than My Family - Part 2." You had read the first and seemed to enjoy it, so I was just letting you know that I had made a second if you wanted to check it out. :)

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01:51 Oct 08, 2020

Thanks! I will check it out!

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Charles Stucker
22:31 Oct 03, 2020

She was far to hungry to wait for delivery. - too hungry and sat herself at the table. - you can omit herself or replace with down to have sat down at the table “Yes, I am, may I ask who..." - Run-on, make this, "Yes, I am. May I ask who..." “I’m Elizabeth, my dear. Your father and I were dear friends.” The woman said.  “Come here dear.” What a deer sentence...You repeat dear too many times in a row. Maybe "I'm Elizabeth. I was a close friend of your father," Elizabeth said. "Come here, dear." creeping open and slamming shut- dou...

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00:07 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you Charles! I appreciate your editing very much! Great advice and I will use it! This is actually a piece of a book idea I have, so it was very hard for me to use less words. I see your point about tightening up the beginning and will do that on my next short story. Thanks again!

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Lucy Splendid
09:33 Oct 04, 2020

I was thinking the same with regards to reduction of words.

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Maggie Deese
17:52 Oct 03, 2020

This was really sweet, Karlynn! It was a very creative and emotional take on the prompt and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some suggestions I have would maybe do a little more describing of the person's surroundings. It read like a summary instead of an actual story. Your vocab was really good, though. Also, maybe I just missed it, but what is the childhood toy being passed down? Overall, great story! Well done!

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18:11 Oct 03, 2020

Thank you! I will work on my descriptions. The toy was in the red box. It was a train engine her dad made. Thanks again!

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Maggie Deese
18:19 Oct 03, 2020

Okay, I don't know how I missed that! You're welcome!

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18:33 Oct 03, 2020

I'm having trouble keeping it to 3000 words! Thanks!

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Maggie Deese
18:42 Oct 03, 2020

I totally feel that! Mine are usually a little over 1,000 but my latest story was over 2,000!

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23:06 Jul 11, 2021

Great story!! It had definitely a sweet note the whole time. In the end, it almost gave off a mysterious feeling, like something about the place was not as it seems. A sequel, perhaps? :)

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21:59 Oct 14, 2020

This was a sweet story, very homely and cosy to read once it got to the small town part, even with the sadness of the father having died. I think doing a reread or two and getting someone else to read it would help with getting rid of some of the little mistakes here and there that I see others have pointed out. I've posted plenty of stories with a few minor problems that someone else had caught the first time they read it, so I try to get someone I know to read it before I post it and I'm finding it very helpful! I can also relate to the ...

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Thom Brodkin
18:30 Oct 05, 2020

This reminds me of how I write. You are a storyteller and you tell a very good story. I could feel all of your characters and see the settings. I felt cheated by her dad's death because he seemed like the kind of man I would have liked to have met. I'm really glad this is part of a book because there is so much to flesh out. There is a Netflix show called Virgin River and I get that kind of vibe. It could be a series of books or a television show. I really loved everything about it. I am actually going to ask you to read two of my ...

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Lani Lane
01:48 Oct 05, 2020

Hi, Karlynn! This was touching. I also really love the lesson of: “Toying with anything you love is worth the time." What a great way to end the story. Others have already pointed out things to fix, and it's too late to edit these now--but please let me know if you write for the new contest and need someone to critique it! :) Looking forward to reading more of your stories!

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Lucy Splendid
10:01 Oct 04, 2020

Recently I have had one of my own stories (not submitted yet) edited by a friend, at first I was upset that she had cut a good 1/3rd of my story away, but when I read the new edited version, I realised it had been improved. As writers we put so much of ourselves into our stories, that cutting out sentences can be difficult. So any advice given is from a place of fellowship and not just to criticise. I like the story, and the themes within but I think you tell too much instead of letting the reader sit with it and find their own understan...

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16:18 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you so much! I appreciate any and all feedback! I'm not new to writing, but I am new to sharing my work. To have other writers give their feedback and advice is so valuable to me in my journey! Have a great day!

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Lucy Splendid
15:53 Oct 05, 2020

I hope you will share more, as I did enjoy reading your work.

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A. K. Wilson
21:38 Oct 03, 2020

So heartbreaking but very well done💗💜💗💜

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00:08 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you for reading my story!

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A. K. Wilson
00:29 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you for writing it 💝

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A. K. Wilson
00:29 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you for writing it 💝

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