Denise Leonard strutted confidently up the stairs and through the front door of the building where she would have her ultimate victory. She had spent hours going over every detail of her outfit ensuring that it projected just the right amount of confidence. She wasn’t there to gloat, but merely to ascend to the position that was rightfully hers. With each measured step satisfaction swelled within her as she entered the central room with its long table and its evenly spaced chairs. She found her place, sat down, looked around and only then realized that everything was very, very wrong.
“Where are Lucy, Veronica, Yolanda, and Paula?” Denise asked in an anxious voice as their empty chairs mocked her.
“Out of order,” Chairwoman Jennifer Gonzalez announced loudly as she pounded the ceremonial hammer on the space in front of her at the head of the table.
“What?” Denise wondered as her confusion continued to rise.
“Our first point of order is the resignation of four of our members for the taking of inducements in order to vote in a particular manner.”
As Jennifer finished her sentence every eye pointed at Denise. Her face flushed, but she quickly reclaimed her focus and stood up strong announcing, “I have done nothing wrong. I merely encouraged people to do what is right. I deserve to head this organization.”
Jennifer looked at Denise with disgust and said, “You don’t deserve to be part of this organization and you know it.”
“You aren’t so pure Jennifer,” Denise answered back angrily.
“No I’m not. I’ve made my share of mistakes. But I’ve never undermined our process. I’ve never compromised the integrity of others. You should be ashamed.”
Denise looked from one face to the next and though many were looking at her harshly, others seemed less angry.
“I demand a vote now.”
“Out of order,” Jennifer screamed.
“What are you afraid of?”
“Fine,” Jennifer grumbled. “Up or down.”
Denise began to smile, but then looked around the table. Every thumb was turned down. Each face was grim.
“Charlotte, even you?” Denise asked.
“Yes,” Charlotte replied. “You need to go now, Denise.”
“We don’t hate you, Denise,” Jennifer said in a calmer tone. “But you have hurt your sisters very badly. You wanted it too much. You crossed some lines that just can’t be crossed and I think deep down you know it.”
Denise bowed her head, stood to her feet, and walked out of the room. The strut was gone and replaced by a sad shuffle. Once outside she realized that she had become something that she hated. She sat down on a bench and began to cry. It wasn’t so much sorrow as anger at the choices that she had made. It would be easy to hate her sisters for voting her off the island, but they had done the right thing. She had believed that voting for her was the right thing and maybe it was, but she had done too many wrong things to accomplish the right and that was unforgiveable. She wasn’t done, but she was out for now. She loved her sisters, but she had forced them to vote her out, and for now that was something she could not forgive herself for. Maybe in the future, but not now. For now she had sorrow and frustration and she would have to live with it. There was always hope, but she had done a lot of damage that would take a long time to fix.
She looked up to see Charlotte coming over; she looked a complete wreck.
“I’m so sorry,” Charlotte said as she collapsed on the bench.
“You did the right thing, Charlotte.”
“I turned my back on you, Denise.”
“I made you do it and I’m so sorry.”
Charlotte looked deep into Denise's eyes and then reached over and gave her a sincere hug. It wasn’t resolution, but it was something and that meant the world to them both.
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