Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GAMBLE (04/14/16)
By Sara Harricharan
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Allison rummaged through her oversized purse, muttering to herself.
Kelsey squinted over her shoulder. “Are you sure it’s in there?”
Allison glared at her. “You wanna pay? It’s your turn, isn’t it?”
“You wanted donuts.”
The glare weakened and Allison pouted. “I can’t help it. I forgot about my prescription-“
“Which is why we’re not at the donut shop. I know,” Kelsey stretched. “Didn’t you change it last week? A black one, instead of the pink one?”
Allison blinked. “Shut up,” she groused, finally retrieving the wallet. It took a few minutes, but soon she stuffed the prescription bag into a crammed pocket in her purse. “There. Adulting is done for the day. Now, donuts!”
Theatrically, Kelsey offered an arm.
Arm in arm, they laughed their way over to the donut shop, pointing out weird outfits and cute guys along the way.
“A dozen?” Kelsey mused.
“Six for me, six for you,” Allison said, grandly. “I want some plain, for coffee.”
“Yuck. I want a mocha. No plain coffee. No plain donuts and ooh—he is hot. So cute!”
Allison followed her gaze to the young man who had entered the shop a few steps ahead of them.
He smiled as he stepped up to the counter.
“…Kinda hot,” Allison agreed, brow furrowing as she looked him over.
The harried barista fixed his iced coffee and handed it over. He retreated to the table along the wall in corner of the cafe.
Allison’s furrow morphed into a frown. “Military,” she muttered, disappointed.
Kelsey shot her a look, but moved up in line.
Several minutes later, colorful donut box in hand, Allison hummed as she sniffed her coffee.
Kelsey chose a table and took her time picking out a donut to match her drink.
Narrowed eyes drilled into her. “What?” Allison snapped. “Spit it out.”
Kelsey gave her pained look. “I just—sugar.”
“You’re not shaking. When you need sugar, you shake. You’ve got that look on your face like I cheated on-“
“They work hard, you know,” Kesley blurted out, wincing once the words left her mouth.
Allison stilled. “Excuse me?”
“And it’s national guard, not just military. There’s nothing wrong with it. He’s still cute.”
“Right. Whatever. I’d never date some guy who decided-“
“To gamble?” Kelsey interrupted. Her gaze locked onto Allison. “With their life? To make the choice to serve for country and fellow countrymen, knowing fully well that their life is a currency? Believing they’re making a difference, whether people like us agree? Defending our right to voice our opinions about their choices as if they didn’t risk everything?”
Kelsey made herself focus on picking sprinkles off of her chosen donut.
“All I said was-“
“They give everything,” Kelsey said, tightly. “Knowing fully well that they may never be thanked or even properly appreciated. Doing it for whatever reason compels them. Rewriting everything that makes them unique and never asking for our acceptance of their choice. Just there. Always there. Standing with heads held high, hoping their gamble will pay off. That for them, at least, it’ll be worth it. That they made the right choice.”
Allison’s free hand curled into a fist. “So?”
“They don’t ask us to judge them while they’re buying coffee.”
“What crawled up your-“
“...since when do you care?” Allison shot back. “Never minded before. What’s your problem now?”
Kelsey straightened. “Since I decided I wanted to make a difference.”
“With your fancy art degree? Doing what? You’re going to save the world by-“
“And you wonder why we don’t feel like friends anymore?” Kelsey rose from the table, mocha in hand. “Because I’ve grown up, Allison. You’re still stuck in your glittery high school mindset. Out here in the real world, with real people? We try to look past the labels.”
“I’m trying,” Kelsey hissed. “That’s the difference. I’m trying. You’re not. I shouldn’t have come today. It always turns out like this.”
Allison’s jaw dropped. “What?”
Kelsey took a deep breath. She dug out a few crumpled bills from her jeans pocket and set them on the table. “Thanks for the mocha—and the donuts.”
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