For Beginning, Middle and End contest
|WORD COUNT: 1342|
"Okay, I admit it. I did it. What now?"
"Ahhhh,yes, I knew you would", Joseph laughed.
Tara rolled her eyes at his confident arrogance. Or maybe she was annoyed at her own predictability. She almost always did what he asked.
"Okay, whatever Joe, what the hell am I going to do now?" she asked again, impatient.
"Now, my darling, you sit tight and let ol' Joseph take care of the rest. We will discuss this again later. You won't be sorry." With that, Tara heard the click of the phone signaling the end of their conversation.
Sighed, Tara Stewart removing her glasses, rubbed her eyes and stood from her desk. Glancing at the clock she realized it was too late to try regaining enough composure to refocus on her day's work. After what she had done, she wondered how she would focus for the rest of the week. Besides, Kelly and Travis would surely be at each other's throats if she left them home alone much longer. And dinner wasn't going to cook itself. Her husband certainly wouldn't. He'd not been himself lately, seemingly preoccupied with something more important than them. She would not allow herself to assume the worst, not of her husband. She started packing folders into her briefcase and then stopped, realizing it was pointless. On impulse, she grabbed a framed picture of her family and stuffed it in her case instead. She switched off the office lights and headed home with a heavy heart.
Tara had been working at Morgan & Associates as their book keeper for more years then she cared to admit. She had been there during the pregnancy and birth of both her children without receiving so much as a card from any of the associates. She returned early from maternity leave both times without a thank you from anyone. It was a guilt she'd dealt with since, having missed out on that part of her children's life. But her pay was substantial enough. When combined with her husband's, the bi-weekly cheques were enough to pay the bills. And so Tara had stayed year after never ending year.
Her twelve year old daughter, Kelly was sitting on the front step when Tara pulled into the driveway. She didn't even have the '88 wagon's door open before Kelly was at the car, waving her arms around and complaining about her ten year old brother's latest antics.
"...and he didn't even say excuse me Mom! It was soooo embarrassing. Finally I got Lisa to come over and she was so disgusted she walked out. She'll never come back. She'll probably tell all the kids at school what freaks we are again. You really need to teach him some manners. He stinks! " Kelly turned and stomped toward the house leaving Tara to stare after her. 'Welcome home Mom' she muttered to herself but supressed a smile. Travis always knew how to get rid of that uppity girl. Lisa lived one block over, on the good side of the tracks, and she never let Kelly forget. Poor Kelly was always trying to keep up.
Once inside, she immediately went to change out of her skirt and blouse and into shorts and a tank top. This had become a daily routine since the air conditioner had conked out the month before. She was slicing tomatoes for the salad when Travis wandered in and opened the fridge.
"Oh hey ma. I thought dinner'd be ready by now."
"You must be crazy if you think that. I've not been home more than five minutes."
Travis shrugged his shoulders, and not finding anything of interest in the fridge closed the door and left her to her duties without another word.
Tara shook her head and let her mind wander back to Joseph. She wondered what he was plotting this time and what part she would play in it. His latest request was strange to say the least but she seldom said no to him; it was part of their deal. She had done it, not knowing why she was doing it, or where it would lead. She had taken a huge risk and prayed it wouldn't get them into serious trouble.
The rest of the week was much the same. She went through the motions at work and again at home. On Friday, Joseph called.
"This is it. Everything is ready"
"Joseph, what is going on? Please...", she begged.
"Just finish out the day Tara. You will see me later" Again the sound him hanging up let her know this conversation was over.
When she pulled onto her street that evening, she was not prepared for what she saw. People were lining the streets, cameras were everywhere. Was she imagining it or were they watching her; filming her? Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw her family standing in the driveway surrounded by cameras and fuzzy microphones and people running around with headsets on. They were here for her! Tara suffered a flitting moment of panic before she noticed something else. Her kids were both genuinley smiling, her husband holding flowers. Both of these sights were very rare indeed. There was a handmade 'Congratulations' sign on the lawn. She stepped cautiously out of the car and slowly walked toward her husband.
"We did it honey", was all he said and she looked at him, bewildered, waiting for more.
Before she could ask Travis blurted, "Dad won the lottery Mom. A big one! Like a gazillion billion dollars!"
Tara's head began to spin and she swayed slightly. Kelly caught her arm and laughed. "It's true Mom, we're RICH", she exclaimed dancing around her.
Comprehension began to set in and she looked up at her husband. It was all making sense now. "Is this why yo..."
"Yes my love, this is what I've been so busy with. I'm sorry but I wanted it to be a surprise. This is why I told you to quit your job with those ungrateful basta...oh never mind, it doesn't matter anymore. Look, see that limo over there?" Tara spotted it and nodded "It's taking us anywhere you want to go darling. ANYWHERE! And after that it'll be the kids turn to choose, then mine! For the next year we're just going to travel the world. We'll see everything we want to see Tara! Just like we've always dreamed of. I told you one day I'd make your dreams come true didn't I", he said. "Didn't I?" he shouted again, lifting her off her feet and twirling her around.
"I packed a few things but we can buy the rest. I've made arrangements for our belongings to be put in storage until we're ready to settle somewhere..."
For the next twenty minutes, Tara listened as her husband revealed all he had kept hidden for the last few months. He beamed proudly into the cameras as he told his story while Tara watched him in awe. He had covered everything. There was nothing for her to do but relax and enjoy it all. She was sure she could do that after all these years of hard work. It was going to pay off afterall.
They were seated in the Limo when he leaned over and asked "Are you ready?"
She looked up at her small house and her old rusty car in the driveway. She thought of all the years she wasted in that stuffy office and all the long hours he had put in at his own job. She thought of the struggles her children had had to face at school when they couldn't afford the 'in' pair of shoes or the latest school trips. She looked at Kelly and Travis now sitting across from her in this huge luxury car. They were talking and laughing with each other excitedly, no longer a care in the world. She saw Lisa and her family glaring ,arms folded at the commotione the Stewart's were causing. She looked into her husband's eyes then and nodded "Yes Joseph. There's nothing left for me here"