The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 4

Dad came home from work after being gone for a week. Even though he didn’t complain out loud how much he hated being away from home so frequently, I knew he did. He was a good family man and wanted to provide everything he could for us. Being away so often made it difficult and inconvenient at times to do that. The only advantage he had, compared to other truckers, was living so close to the truck terminal. At least, he didn’t have to spend extra time driving home from the terminal like most of the others did.

“Hi, honey,” Mom greeted him with a hug. “You look really tired. I’ll fix us dinner as soon as possible. You just rest ’til then.”

“Thank you, honey.”

My parents were always so polite and nice to each other. I never saw them fight. Zoe’s parents fought all the time. They cursed at each other like there was no point in censorship. It was crazy. But even crazier when they made up. They’d kiss and make out right in front of everyone: in the car, in public restaurants…everywhere they could. Then after making up, they’d go right back to being a seventy-year-old married couple—until their next fight.

I never knew how often my parents were physically intimate. I highly suspected they were not, in any shape or form. Sure, they were always nice to each other, but were they still attracted to each other romantically?

Dad was forty-three and even though he had wrinkles on his face and some grey growing on his temples, I could tell he was quite good-looking when he was young. He actually was—I’d seen the pictures from his younger days. I was sure he’d been very popular back then, if any girls had been around. He probably hadn’t met too many. Dad wasn’t the type to go out and party—not now or then. Being an introvert in a small town was equal to a death sentence in the dating world. You’d most likely end up marrying one of the few people you’d ever met in your life—like buying a house when the inventory was scarce.

I bet there were still some people who found him attractive. However, he was just a struggling trucker with a family to feed, living in an old, two-bedroom house in Littleside. That probably discouraged anyone from looking at him and thinking he was attractive, I assumed. Besides, women around his age were already married with kids. It wasn’t like they could blow him a kiss, even if they wanted to. That would have been wrong. And even worse, they all knew each other! Looking at someone else’s husband in a flirtatious manner would have been equivalent to cheating with your best friend’s groom on their wedding day. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but you got the picture.

Mom was thirty-nine. She was as plain and uncomplicated as a prairie field that spread out to the horizon. She never wore any makeup, and her hair was always the same—she just tied it back every single day. She wore a non-descript shirt and pants, never skirts except when she went to church. Even then, it was rare and the hems were always below-the-knee. To her, practicality was something she worshiped. If I were to choose between two shoes—one pair being super comfortable and easy to walk in; and the other being super cute and impossible to walk in, I would, without any doubt, choose the latter. Of course, you’d know what Mom would choose, even though fifty-year-old women paraded around in six-inch heels in Hollywood!

Sometimes, however, I wondered what really happened with my parents behind closed doors. But then again, did I really want to know about them being intimate? Heck, no! I just knew that I could never live my life like them. If I were already dying of boredom at age sixteen, how could I not expect to be dead by age forty if my life went on unchanged? I knew that burning, passionate romance didn’t last forever. I also knew that crushes and love were different. But why did it have to be that way? Would it exhaust you to keep loving the same person passionately? Did my parents have a steamy, lust-loving crush when they first met? They must have, and it must have lasted until some point. It wasn’t like their marriage was arranged. I had to wonder, did the romance end with the marriage? Or after becoming parents?

I hadn’t had my first crush yet—well, who was there really?—and I had very high expectations about my impending romance. After I moved to Los Angeles, my plan was to meet the most gorgeous, successful, wealthy man and fall in love. We’d fall for each other so hard that we couldn’t stand to be apart even for five minutes. There was no way I could settle for, Okay, we had our romance when we met, so now let’s just be two people who politely cohabitate and eventually die.

That thought frightened me to death.

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