The Carters BY- Alison kenkel

Prologue

Lillian: Hi there, my name is Lillian. I manage a grocery store in Lanesboro MI, called Carters grocery along with my husband. I have three children named Olivia, Emily, and Tyler. My husband is named Daniel, and we have been married for 22 years. We live in a light purple, two story home. I love to cook, kickbox, run and make pots in my local pottery class. I have shoulder length curly hair, but I almost always have it up with gel. I am 5’ 7 and very strong and athletic. I love to learn and am currently in night school to get my Ph.D. in psychiatry.

Daniel: Hi there, I’m Daniel. I am the CEO of Carter's grocery in Lanesboro MI, the grocery store my wife and I manage. We live in a beautiful home just a block away from the grocery store which is really nice to walk to in the summer. Our home has two stories along with an attic but that is probably too much detail. I am 6’0 and I have short black hair that I like to style down because it is easy and fast in the mornings. I love to do tai chi and stretch. I love to cook with my wife on the weekends and spend time at home with my children. My job is full time, but I spend my spare time with my children which is amazing.

Emily: Hey, I'm Emily. I live at home and work at my parents’ grocery store. I am 19 and I have a little sister and an older brother. Which is not super fun because they both are super annoying. I love them a lot though I don’t show it. I love to sleep and spend time with my friends. Also, I love my job at the grocery store because I get free makeup. All I really want to do is get a good grade in my ethics class, find a good job, and sleep in on the weekends. I am 5’8 and have brown, long, and curly hair.

Tyler: Hi I'm tyler, I manage the local lighthouse in lanesboro MI. There is an ice cream shop in it but my girlfriend, April, runs it. I love to work and live there because I get to spend every day with the love of my life, and I get to do the job I love. I am 22 and still cool, no matter what the kids say. I love to play lacrosse and make new plans for the lighthouse. I also love taking April up on the lighthouse deck and looking out at the ocean. April is kind, courteous, and loves pottery. She and my mom go to the local class run by April’s mom. April works at the ice cream shop and at the rec center in town. I am 5’11 and I have brown hair that I love to style up.

Olivia: Hi, I’m Olivia and I work at the local pet store and live at home with my parents. I am currently saving up to go to college and maintain my AMAZING job at the pet store. I am optimistic, caring, annoying according to my sister and brother. I love animals and taking care of them. That is why I want to be a veterinarian. I want to go to veterinary school, and get my bachelors degree too. I am capable and hardworking, which makes me a great person. Some people say I am overconfident and think everything I say and write is a job application. But I think I am just extremely qualified to live life and become a veterinarian. Some other people’s dream is to become a veterinarian, but it’s MY destiny. I am 5’5 and have armpit length, wavy brown hair.

The Carters

On a regular weekday morning in the fall, in the small northern Michigan town of Lanesboro- Olivia Carters is up at around 7 AM and working out, studying her veterinary textbooks, and getting ready for school. Meanwhile, Emily Carters is fast asleep and dreaming about her college graduation day, the day she won’t have to stay up late studying, but stay up late with her friends. Daniel and Lillian are up and getting ready to go to work at around 7:45 AM. Emily negotiated that she doesn’t have to get to work until 9 AM every day because she is a teenager and needs her sleep. Emily thought,

‘It's bright outside, and I want to sleep but I can't sleep cause it's bright out. Unnngggsdhhh… I do not want to go to work but I have a six-hour shift and the money is coming from my parents, so I’ll get there by 9…:45’

As Emily made her way toward the bathroom, then back to her room to put her uniform on, then downstairs for breakfast… or a grape, then toward the coffee machine, and finally toward the door to get on her bike and ride the two blocks to Carter’s.SHe could only think of going back to sleep.

By late afternoon, the whole family, excluding Tyler, was sitting around their slightly coffin-shaped dinner table awkwardly eating and talking about their day. As usual, Lillian said happily, even though it wasn’t great news, “ We got almost 20 sales today. totaling to a BOOMING $234.68, someone finally bought my famous 20 LB caramel bag!” Emily was as surprised as her mom that someone actually bought one of those things.

Just as things were about to get normal, and Olivia, Emily, Daniel, and Lillian were getting into a deep dinner conversation, Tyler burst into the living room and shouted, “GUESS WHO IS MOVING BACK IN BECAUSE HE JUST GOT DUMPED BY THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE?! THIS GUY!” He was holding his thumbs up, pointing at himself. After that, the night only got worse. Tyler started sobbing, and Lillian comforted him as they sat on the lime green and lavender couch. Meanwhile, Daniel blurted supportive yet cheesy comments from the kitchen. He, Emily, and Olivia were all cleaning up from dinner.

A few days later, once Tyler had moved back in, things felt like they did when the kids were little. Tyler was complaining about how he didn’t have a job. While Olivia was studying like crazy for a quiz that was worth 10% of her grade. And Emily was trying to find any spare dollars to get through this semester of college. The problem was that the grocery store profits had to pay five employees, the supplies, other building expenses, the family’s house expenses, and support five people. Considering that the family was making an average of $276.45 a day, they would not be making enough money to keep Carter’s afloat.

Lillian was very worried about the financial stability of their store and did not want to take any risks. With good intentions, she canceled some of the merchandise orders to save money. She knew that those orders were a big part of the spending at Carter’s.

Lillian told Daniel her great idea, “I canceled the underselling merchandise orders in order to save money,” Daniel looked at her with a confused expression.

“SO smart…right??” She asked, now nervous.

Daniel, now understanding what his wife had done said, “ Why didn’t you consult me first?!”

Emily and Tyler walked into the living room where Daniel had a betrayed expression on his face, looking at his wife.

“What is going on here?” asked Emily.

“Our Carters mini meeting went south… fast,” said Daniel, emphasizing his annoyance.

“WELL, I JUST WANTED TO MAKE ONE DECISION ON MY OWN. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK!?” exclaimed Lillian. This was the first time she had been this angry since...ever.

“Ever since I got home you guys have been fighting and acting weird. I think I should just go and leave you guys alone,” said Tyler shamefully.

“No honey, it’s not you. Your father and I have just been worried about the store for a while and we are trying to do something about it. If anything, you have helped us find a solution,” Lillian said after calming down.

Once the kids left the room, Lillian and Daniel resumed their talk.

“I’m sorry for not letting you make any decisions about the store. I thought you didn’t like to make decisions,” Daniel said with honesty.

“I’m sorry for lashing out. I haven’t been able to properly express myself in a while and it was building up inside of me. I think we need to properly express ourselves more often so that we don't get mad at each other,” said Lillian with a tone of love. Lillian and Daniel agreed that Lillian would have a 50% say in the executive decisions of Carters. The only problem left was that Carters was still in financial trouble, which meant that they would have to cut back spending.

Unfortunately, the first to go were the 24/7 candy discounts. They were all now $3.00 a pound. After that, it was the artisan beef, then the quadruple artichoke bars. The decisions had to be made, and they were not easy.

Almost a week later, Lillian and Daniel realized that they should’ve made these decisions three years ago. Because now, the store was practically empty, and they were out of money.

After this kind of loss, there was no way they could recover to the bustling grocery store that once prospered in the mid-sized town of Lanesboro. Or possibly recover at all. With all of the factors put in place- cancellation fees, rising competition, lack of respect for locality. It simply was not possible that the Carters family store would survive.

The next day at the grocery store, when no one was around, Lillian and Daniel called a team meeting to tell the employees about the situation.

“Thank you all for meeting here. We have called this meeting because we have officially decided that Carters is going to file bankruptcy in one week. I know it has been hard to manage this downfall, but we simply cannot continue our business-ship. If only a miracle could save us from this misfortune… but that probably will not happen, considering the best thing to ever happen to this town was that an infamous Jimmy Carter look-alike took a wrong turn on the highway, and ended up asking Mrs. Englishman for help.” Daniel denied his inner feeling to bawl his eyes out. After all, this was his and his father’s life’s work.

“Any questions?” Lillian added.

“Um, yeah… Are we still gonna get paiiidd??” ranted a part-time employee named Chelsea.

“Chelsea, we cannot afford a 25ct pack of dish sponges, so no, I am afraid not, ” lied Daniel. He could afford to pay her, but he knew that she used to steal toothbrushes and chocolate bars from the store. He figured he didn’t owe her anything.

“ANYWAY,” Lillian re-routed the conversation “Look you guys, I know it has been hard to get through these past few weeks, but you will find other jobs. In fact, I will write all of you recommendation letters,” said Lillian. She did truly feel bad that she had to do this to her employees.

“Okay, back to work for one more week and then goodbye……… forever,” He was now sobbing.

After the grocery store closed that day, Daniel and Lillian made a detour on their way home to buy a few lottery tickets. Just for fun. They knew they couldn’t possibly win. Heh, after all this bad luck they’ve had, they’ll for sure win the lottery. But they bought them anyway, just to have something to look forward to.

Once bankruptcy day came, Lillian and Daniel dressed in their nicest clothes and went to Lanesboro City Hall. On their way in, they were greeted by many community members that were sad to see them go. During the meeting, Daniel held back his sorrow and regret for not doing something to save his precious store earlier. He knew that it was not technically his fault that his store didn’t succeed in his hands. But he couldn’t help his guilt. What hadn’t he noticed? What was it that he didn’t do? He genuinely had no idea.

On their way home, Lillian realized that she would be able to check soon to see if she somehow magically won the lottery. She reminded Daniel,

“Okay, in order to try and relieve you of some of your sorrow, grumpiness, and slight depression, I want to remind you that the love of your life bought a lottery ticket or four the other day and we can go check them in two days!”

“Wow...Yay……….I’m so happy…” Daniel grumbled.

“I’m going to be mean to you right now, but just remember that it is because I love you dearly and you need to hear it,” Lillian advised. “You need to toughen up.” She scowled through clenched teeth. “I worked just as hard on that store as you did and I’m NOT pouting! AM I?! Yeah, so if you are going to sit here and feel sorry for yourself then I will sit with you. But I would prefer to go inside our beautiful home, give our beautiful children a big hug and snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie, and enjoy the things we still have while we have them. Your choice,” Lillian’s motivational speeches didn’t come often, but when they did, whoever she was giving them to felt better the second they ended.

The next morning, the job hunt began for Lillian, Daniel, and Tyler.

First, came Lillian’s interview to be a nutrition specialist at a school in the next town over. Then came Tyler, he interviewed to be the scheduler for the city port. He liked the idea of working at the port, but soon remembered his fear of boats, and decided it was not for him. After that Daniel interviewed for the manager of the new grocery store that bought the Carters property. The problem was that he cried during his interview because he realized that he wasn’t ready to be in that space again.

That night, at the dinner table, Daniel told his family how he cried during his interview. They laughed. Lillian told little of her interview because she was not sure about how she felt about it. Tyler went on about his uneventful interview for the longest time.

Olivia asked Emily “Hey, why didn’t you go job hunting today, don’t you need a job too?”

“Thanks, sassafrass, but no I don’t need a job. In fact, I just figured out that I have enough money to get through this semester.” Emily felt superior, she knew that her parents would be proud of her.

“Yay!!! We’re so proud of you!!” Lillian exclaimed. “You did it all by yourself!” Ah, yes, those were the words Emily wanted to hear.

The next morning, everyone slept in, including Olivia.

Once everyone was up, Lillian made the usual Saturday morning breakfast that was enjoyed by almost every single middle and upper-class household in the US, pancakes, bacon, and eggs. While Lillian was making the pancakes, Daniel decided that he would go for a walk. He needed some fresh air, it was something about that morning that brought him back to one of the very first days Carters was open. As he walked, he thought of when the customers of Carters walked in the door and were greeted by a smiling face, Daniel. He would stand by the front door for hours at a time, greeting people as they walked in. He always knew that Carters would turn out to be a neighborhood destination for charm and community. But that would not last forever.

Once Daniel turned the last corner back home, he put his hands in his pockets. He found the lottery ticket that Lillian had bought the week before and decided to go and check it. He turned around and headed toward the gas station. When the gas station was in sight, Daniel saw the banner with this week’s winning numbers - 26 58 30 48 34 29 47- he then looked down at his ticket - 26 58 30 48 34 29 47- Daniel Thomas Carter could not believe his eyes. He thought maybe the banner was a birthday prank. But his birthday was months away. He could not believe this, so he went inside the station and asked the clerk, “Excuse me, what are this week's winning lottery numbers?”

“They’re - 26 58 30 48 34 29 47-. Why do you wanna know, ‘ya win or somethin’?” Daniel thought the clerk was snobby, but this didn’t matter now… He’d won the lottery!!

“YES!!!!!! I DID IT, WE DID IT!! I WON THE LOTTERY!! YAHOO!” Daniel was now doing an embarrassing happy dance, but he couldn’t help it! The clouds disappeared, it was a sunny day now.

Daniel sprinted home as fast as he possibly could. Thank goodness for that triathlon this past summer. Once he got inside the front door, Daniel nearly fell over. He was drooling and panting.

“What happened to you, are you okay??” Asked Lillian,

“I have never been better in my life! We won the lottery!!!!!!!!” Daniel shouted,

“That’s a metaphor, right?” Asked Lillian,

“NO, well kind of, BUT NO! It’s not, c’mon, let’s go to the gas station so you can see it for yourself.” Daniel was panting still. Lillian and Daniel went to the gas station. Once the banner was in sight, only then did Lillian shout,

“WE DID IT!!! YIIIPPPPPEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“I know right!?” Daniel said now slightly calmer,

“What are we going to do with it?” Lillian asked, now tired from jumping up and down in excitement.

“Let’s buy back and reopen Carters!” Daniel said with exhilaration.

“That is a terrible idea,” Lillian said,

“Wait, what?” Daniel was confused.

“Just think about it, you spent the last few years trying to salvage that store. Bringing it back won't make it all of a sudden great again. Plus you spent the last few months trying to prepare yourself emotionally for this loss. You need to accept that.” Lillian explained.

“But, well, I guess you’re right. Maybe we should give most of it away. We can keep a little bit of it for personal expenses, but let's give it away to a good cause. They deserve it more than us,” Daniel said.

“Great idea! Let’s give it to multiple foundations so that we are fair to all,” Lillian said.

“Goodness gracious, when did you become so giving?” Daniel asked, but Lillian didn’t answer. She was already walking home, thinking about what to do with the rest of her day. How to tell her kids that they had won the lottery. It wouldn’t be hard to tell them, but she was just thinking about it. She also then realized that they still needed to collect their money. What a day.

The End

Created By
Alison Kenkel
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