Things are looking up

Submitted into Contest #134 in response to: End your story with a character looking out on a new horizon.... view prompt


Christian African American Creative Nonfiction

The buzzer on Briana’s desk phone went off. “Briana, can you come into my office please?” said the voice on the other end. “Yes, just a minute”, Briana answers. She pushes herself back from her desk, grabs her notepad, and heads into her boss Mark’s office.

When she enters the room, she notices that Mark has a disheveled look about him. She sits in front of his desk and asks if he’s okay. Mark brushes his hand across the top of his head, scuffing up his hair more than it already was. “Mark, what’s wrong?” asks Briana. Mark looked at her with tear-stained eyes and said, “I just got a call from the hospital, my parents have been in an accident. I need to leave, but we have the Wilkerson presentation in 30 minutes. Can you handle it without me?”

“But Mark, I’ve never led a presentation before, can’t we reschedule it? Surely they can understand that you have an emergency?” Briana became tensed, nervous, and almost in tears herself. Mark stands and comes around his desk to sit in the chair next to Briana.

“Listen, Brie, you can do this. Wilkerson is on his way out of the country and plans to make a decision on this contract before he leaves. It’s now or never. I know that you can do this, and if you can pull this off for us, I promise that I will recommend you for the Management Consulting training program. All you have to do is go over the changes that Wilkerson wanted, just like you heard me practice yesterday. If he has any additional questions, just let him know that I had a family emergency, but we knew that he wanted to move forward. Answer his questions as best you can and if he still isn’t satisfied, let him know that I will follow up with him in a couple of days. Okay?”

Briana took a deep breath, “Will you shadow me in the training program?” “Yes, I will request to train you and recommend you for JR. VP once you complete the program. This deal will make us or break us. I know that you can do it. When you look at Wilkerson, just pretend that it’s me. Just guide him along in the review like you did yesterday. Wilkerson only looks mean, but he is a gentle giant. Mark rubbed his forehead again. Brie, I have to get to the hospital, can I count on you?”

Yes, go ahead. Once the presentation is over, I will stop by the hospital to give you an update. If you need me to bring you anything before I get there, just call and leave me a message. I’ll be praying for your parents. Mark jumped up, gathered his jacket and briefcase, gave Briana a shy smile, and ran from the office.

Briana walked quickly to the lady's room to calm her nerves and get herself together. As she sat in the handicap stall, she reviewed in her mind the changes that she incorporated in the presentation for Mark earlier in the week. She reviewed all of the errors that Mark made while rehearsing and also remembered how calm she was in giving him feedback to make sure that his statements were accurate.

Briana took another deep breath, said a quick prayer for Mark, his parents, and for the presentation. She knew that she could do it, however, Mark had never allowed her to take lead before. She always felt that he was threatened by her and he had a way of making her feel less confident than she was. This was her chance to prove that she had what it took. She found herself praying as she washed her hands, fixed her hair, and headed back to her desk to retrieve her laptop that already had the presentation queued for Mr. Wilkerson.

As Briana approached the conference room, she could see Mr. Wilkerson already seated, along with the rest of the team. She walked in, greeted Mr. Wilkerson with her Vanna White smile, and ran that presentation as if she had been doing them all along. By the time she was done, Wilkerson was not only ready to sign but thanked Briana for carrying on for Mark in his absence.

“Young lady,” Wilkerson said. “Normally I would have not shown up in a situation like this, but my wife asked me to give you a chance. We received a call regarding Mark’s emergency and that you would be doing the presentation. Betty just happened to be in my office when the call came in. She made me promise that I would give you a chance. She’s actually waiting for me downstairs. I will not only let her know that I gave you a chance, but that you shined. I want only you and Mark handling my account and if that can’t happen, then I don’t want to move forward.”

Wilkerson glanced to the end of the table to get the approval from the higher-ups and once received, stood, shook Briana’s hand, and told her that he would give her and Mark a call in about two weeks. Briana smiled and told Mr. Wilkerson thank you and to thank his wife and for them to enjoy their trip. Once she got back to her desk, she saw that Mark had left a message on her phone to bring a few items from his office with her. She went to Mark's office to retrieve his workout bag, grabbed the files from his desk, and headed for the hospital. She decided to wait until she go there to give Mark the update on the presentation.

After fighting through the afternoon traffic, Briana reached the hospital and parked. She followed the instructions Mark left her so that she could find him when she got there. When she entered the emergency department, Mark was standing at the front desk completing forms. She could see the worried look on his face. She looked at the nurse at the front desk and asked if there was any way she could assist her boss with the paperwork and bring it back out to her. The nurse looked at Mark with a snarl, sighed, and said sure, you can take them back to the back with him, just make sure you get them completed and returned in the next 15 minutes. Briana gave her a smile, took the clipboard from Mark, and motioned towards the door once she heard the door release.

Mark no longer looked like the confident man she was used to. He looked more like a little boy who was lost and couldn’t find his parents. Briana reassured Mark that everything was going to be okay and that she would be there to assist in any way that she could. After getting back to the waiting area where he previously sat, Briana started asking Mark the questions that were remaining on the form. She asked him for his id, credit card, and insurance card. She told Mark that she was going back to the front desk and would be back shortly.

Briana returned from delivering the paperwork and handed Mark back his cards and paperwork. She explained that his card would not be charged, but they needed it on record for any co-pays that may come back from the insurance company. Mark waved his hand, put his cards back in his wallet, and put the forms into his briefcase. “Briana, I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t here. I know that it might have seemed as if I didn’t appreciate you, but that’s not it. I have a lot going on, and I just wanted to make sure that we got this deal. By the way, how did the presentation go?” Mark asked while staring at the floor.

“It went great! I was so nervous, but after I said a prayer for you and your parents, I asked God to help me prove myself and get this contract. I sucked up my nerves and did my thing. Whenever I started getting overwhelmed, I remembered what you said and I pictured you sitting there instead of Wilkerson and I was able to push through. At the end of the presentation, Wilkerson said that he was ready to sign and that he only wanted you and me to handle the account. Management had no choice but to agree. You, know, I need to send Wilkerson’s wife a thank you gift, because if it wasn’t for her, Wilkerson wouldn’t have given me a chance.”

“That’s great Briana. I knew that you could do it. I’ve been grooming you for a long time because I knew the day would come when I would need to count on you to do more. You have really proven yourself to me and to management. As long as I’m at this company, you and I will always team up on accounts. Management is aware of my wishes. As VP of Accounts, I promise you that I’ve got your back. Brie, you didn’t have to do this. You didn’t have to come to the hospital, but by doing so, you are showing me just how much I can depend on you. I know that I’m a mess now; I’m just so worried about my parents. Once things settle down, I owe you a weekend on me.” Mark looked at Briana with a shy smile, “thank you so much. Words cannot express how grateful I am for what you have done. Now, I want you to go home, no, take yourself out to dinner on me.”

Mark reached into his wallet and pulled out a hundred-dollar bill.

“Go treat yourself. You don’t need to stay here. I’ll be okay.” Briana asked if he was sure because she didn’t mind hanging around and he reassured her that it was okay. Briana touched Mark’s hand and said, “I just believe that your parents are going to be okay, I can feel it. I’m going to do what you’ve said, but if you need me, you know that you can call me, anytime, okay?” Mark smiled and agreed. Briana left the hospital and while on her way home, called her girlfriends and invited them out for drinks.

While sitting at the table with her girls, Briana relived the day and all that transpired. She looked around at her girls and told them how blessed she felt. She smiled, raised her glass, and thanked God for blessing her more than she could imagine. Things are looking up. As she lowered her glass, her friend quoted their favorite scripture:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

In unison, they all said, “Amen.”

February 21, 2022 13:50

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15:24 Mar 03, 2022

Amanda, Thanks for your feedback. Remembering to punctuate my conversations is always a struggle for me, which is why I hate editing my own work...I know what I'm trying to say. I'm happy that you were able to understand and enjoy the story. despite the missing quotations.


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Amanda Lieser
21:49 Mar 02, 2022

Hi Ramona, This was such a sweet piece. I really loved how you wrote your main characters. I think as women in the work place, we feel a need to really prove our place. I also love how you wove Briana’s faith into this piece. The one piece of feedback I have is that I think this portion is meant to be spoken by Briana, but there aren’t any quotations: Yes, go ahead. Once the presentation is over…I’ll be praying for your parents. Let me know what you think, maybe I read it wrong. Thank you for writing this piece, I look forward to your feedba...


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