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Man standing in line at a busy coffee shop | Source: Flickr
Man standing in line at a busy coffee shop | Source: Flickr

Cafe Manager Insults Teen Employee, Unaware Her Dad Is Standing In Line – Story of the Day

Roshanak Hannani
Oct 10, 2023
02:20 A.M.

Lily took a summer job to pay for her art supplies but had no idea her manager would go crazy on her first day working the register. Things only worsened when her estranged father stepped out of the line to defend her. But his reappearance wasn't welcomed, and it upended her life.

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Lily grinned widely when she arrived for her first day working the counter at a local café. Summer holidays had started the previous week, and Lily was looking forward to spending the next few months producing new artwork.

However, that wouldn't be possible without this new job. The money she made would be used to buy an easel and a new set of paints, so she was cheerier than most would be at the prospect of their first day.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

She needed better supplies for what she had in mind. It would also make her artwork pop, as cheap paint didn't have the same effect. So, she set to work with high spirits, arriving a little earlier than expected and listening intently to the other person on shift, Kyle.

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"OK, so you'll be taking the orders. I was told you know how to use the system," he explained carefully. "I'll be focused on making coffees, and you can help me with simple stuff like serving or packing muffins and the works."

"Cool," Lily nodded, smiling.

"But," Kyle lifted his finger. "The mornings are the worst. We're gonna be running and running straight for a couple of hours. Any mistake can set us back like crazy, so I need you to be on the ball."

Lily gulped but nodded.

"We were supposed to have someone else on this shift, but well," Kyle paused and looked around, then started whispering. "The manager, Mr. Reynolds, is insane. A word of advice: stay clear from him as much you can."

"He hired me," she said, frowning slightly. "He was nice."

"That's all for show," Kyle shook his head. "He wants people to take the job, but once you're on the payroll, he goes crazy."

"Noted," Lily said, thankful for the advice.

"OK, new girl," Kyle rubbed his hands. "Let's start this show!"

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

As soon as Lily turned the sign on the door to "OPEN," a flurry of businesspeople rushed in. She ran to the register and started taking orders. She tried not to be intimidated by some of the more intricate coffee orders and powered through.

She was already feeling in the zone when a hard tap on her shoulder made her jump slightly. It was Mr. Reynolds, and his eyes were blazing.

"Congratulations, new girl," Mr. Reynolds said. "You've just managed to get fired on your first day."

"What? But why, Mr. Reynolds? Did I make a mistake?" Lily asked.

"Yeah, you came to work looking like a clown." Mr. Reynolds gestured at Lily's bright blue hair. "So get back into your clown car and get out of here."

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Lily ran her fingers through her hair, which she'd dyed that weekend. "But there's nothing in the dress code about hair color...I checked, sir."

Mr. Reynolds sneered. "I should've known better than to hire some snotty teenager. You have no understanding of how to present a professional image. There's no place for someone like you in my coffee shop. Now get out!"

Lily stared at Mr. Reynolds in shock. All her dreams of buying high-quality oil paints died as she faced being jobless once again.

"Hey! You can't speak to my daughter like that!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Anger and embarrassment coursed through Lily's veins as she recognized the voice calling out to her. She spun and saw the person she hated most in the world stepping out of his place near the front of the queue: her father.

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"I'll talk to my employees, make that former employee, however I like!" Mr. Reynolds yelled back. "If you don't like it, take her back to the circus and don't return."

Lily looked at the floor in shame as her father, Damian, got close to the register, wanting to keep fighting with her manager. He had walked out on her and her mother, Alison, when she was 13. Although she tried, the memory of that day was always lurking in her consciousness.

Four years ago...

The harsh sound of the car trunk woke Lily up with a start. She was disoriented for a second until her mother's voice registered. "It doesn't have to be this way," she pleaded. Lily frowned, confused, and lifted her comforter.

Her fingers separated two panels on her window's blinds, and she saw her mother, looking lost and scared with her arms wrapped around herself, confronting her father. Damian was dressed, complete with a coat and hat.

The car was running. "It's the only way," he yelled, desperate. Dad circled around the car and got into the passenger seat before Alison could say anything else. The glare of the headlights almost blinded her, but he quickly pulled out of the driveway and off into the night.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Lily watched in horror as her mother — the strongest woman in the world, as far as she knew — covered her face with one hand and sobbed. The sound had her putting on her slippers and running outside.

"Mom!" the 13-year-old wailed. "Mommy, don't cry."

She wrapped her arms around her mother's waist, leaning her head on Alison's chest.

"Oh, Lily. What are you doing up? It's late," Mom asked, sniffing.

"Where did Dad go?"

"I don't know," Alison answered, tightening her hold on Lily.

"When is he coming back?" the young girl demanded.

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"I don't know," her mother replied, shaking her head.

Lily was old enough to put the pieces together. Her father had left, and if her mother had no idea where he went, there was a good chance he was not coming back.

With moisture gathering in her eyes, Lily turned to her manager and saw the expression of a man who thought he was better than everybody. She looked at her father, who looked ready to fight Mr. Reynolds, and couldn't decide which was worse.

Finally, she threw her apron down on the counter. "Fine! I'm leaving!" she exclaimed, threw an apologetic look at Kyle, and stormed out of the coffee shop's back entrance. She was halfway down the street when her father caught up to her.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Lily, wait!" he said. "I want to talk to you... I know you must hate me, but I have so much to explain. There are details you need to know about the day I left."

"Go away!" Lily yelled, refusing to stop her brisk pace. "I don't care about anything you have to say to me!"

"Please, Lily! I had to go. I didn't have a choice, but I'm back now and want to make it up to you." He grabbed her shoulder, tried to stop her, and pleaded. "If you'll just give me ten minutes to explain…"

Wrenching her shoulder off his grasp, Lily repeated that she wanted nothing to do with him. "Forget I exist! I did!" she spat and started walking again, weaving between smartly dressed businesspeople until she reached the subway entrance.

She stomped down the cement stairs and felt it in her soul. Luckily, the next train had just arrived, and she entered discreetly before finally releasing the tears she had no idea were still behind her lids. The 17-year-old couldn't fully release all her feelings in such public, but it was impossible to hold on to her wits.

Aside from being humiliated in front of many coffee shop customers by the manager just for having blue hair, she had to face the man who betrayed her and her mother so horribly. Lily had been a daddy's girl through and through until he just picked up and abandoned them.

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It was a struggle, not just emotionally but financially. Her mother had only held a part-time gig at the time because her father made good money. But suddenly, Alison was working extra shifts. Lily knew that other 13-year-olds took care of themselves, but her world was upended in a second.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

She had to use the bus to go to and from school instead of being driven by her mother. Lunches and dinners were now her responsibility because Alison had no time. In the meantime, she was mourning the loss of her father, who had changed his number and didn't even write. He was just gone.

It took a while before Alison found a steadier job, but she wanted more of her daughter, so they moved to a better area. Lily exited the subway and walked toward her relatively new townhouse. Her mother had decided Lily needed to be in a better school district to have more chances to get into college and bought a great house.

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The mortgage was a little more than they had paid in rent before, so Alison now had a second job. Lily hated seeing her mother working so much, so she couldn't ask for paint supplies from her. She knew Alison would say yes and sacrifice more of herself to buy anything, which only worsened her resentment towards her father.

Hence her deep desire for a job, which had lasted less than half a day. "This must be some sort of record," Lily muttered after opening the front door. She removed her shoes and let her purse plop on the floor before running to the kitchen for a glass of water.

She downed the liquid in one gulp and washed the tears from her face in the sink. Her hands reached for a paper towel to dry off, and she threw it in the trash can when she was ready. Cringing, Lily kicked the plastic container, a real-life demonstration of what she wanted to do to herself.

"I'm never crying for my father again," the teenager muttered and went to her room. Finally, it was time to concentrate on something more important: her artwork. She propped a canvas up on her desk and took out her paints. The tubes were nearly empty.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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She angrily took the fullest tubes—black, burnt orange, and turquoise—and squeezed some paint out onto the old dinner plate she used as a palette. She then started painting. A few hours later, she stepped back to stare at the result.

"God, it looks like Pollock and Frankenthaler got drunk together and had a blindfolded paint-off on the same canvas," Lily sighed.

"Well, I think it's beautiful," Alison said from behind her, startling her. "The colors are interesting, but the texture and shapes are amazing."

"You have to say that. You're my mother," Lily chuckled, setting the plate down and running to her mother.

"Oh, sweetie," her mother returned the hug happily. "You haven't hugged me like this in a while."

"I know," Lily murmured into her chest. For a second, all she wanted was to tell her mother what happened with Mr. Reynolds and her father's unexpected appearance. But Alison yawned heavily and leaned her forehead on Lily's head. "Mom, why don't you take a nap?"

"I wanted to make you dinner for a change," Alison said but yawned.

"No," Lily stepped away. "You sleep. I'll make dinner. Besides, I already bought the frozen ravioli and sauce you like."

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"That sounds delightful," her mother sighed happily, nodding. "Alright. I'll have a nap."

"I'll call you when it's ready," Lily said, watching her mother wobble to her bedroom. "I love you, Mom."

"I love you, sweetie," Alison said, closing her door.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

An hour later, they were at the dinner table, enjoying the sweet scent of cream sauce, bacon, and mushroom on top of doughy, delicious cheese-filled ravioli. Lily hoped to keep their dinner cheery and light-hearted, but Alison asked about her first day at work. She had no choice but to tell her the truth.

"The manager took one look at my hair and fired me on the stop," the teenager confessed, shrugging in defeat.

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"Well, that's just ridiculous!" Mom said. "The man runs a coffee shop, not an investment banking firm. I've seen a million baristas with crazy hair, piercings, and tattoos. It's almost on-brand to look a little different. What does it matter if your hair is blue?"

"That's what I'd like to know," Lily sighed. "But I can't do anything about it. My co-worker Kyle had already warned me about the manager. I don't think I could've asked for a second chance, and I know we shouldn't give up, but I just don't think working for that man would've been good. Tomorrow, I'll go looking for a different job."

"That's the spirit, sweetheart. This is 2023. Managers need to understand that employees are not doing them a favor. People are working for a living. They deserve respect," Mom smiled. "Still, I can see you're sad about it. I know it's hard, but you can't let life get you down, no matter how difficult it gets. Keep your eyes on the bright future ahead of you, and you'll always find a way through any hardships."

Lily smiled. Her mother's optimism was infectious, but she found that focusing on the future was easier said than done when the present seemed so miserable. No matter how hard she tried to get a new job over the next two weeks, nobody wanted to hire her.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Soon, she was out of paint supplies and canvases. The bright side was that her mood had rendered excellent results on her artwork. "There truly is something to say about sadness driving creativity," Lily murmured, putting away her latest piece.

With a sigh, she turned to social media, intent on posting the photos she had taken before, during, and after finishing her new canvas. Lily always did that and garnered a few loyal followers who encouraged her to keep painting.

The cliché image of a lightbulb appeared in her mind when an idea surfaced. Smiling, she created a post to appeal to her friends and followers. Asking people online for help when it wasn't an emergency felt wrong, but it couldn't hurt. After adding her e-wallet details, Lily clicked to post and waited.

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A few messages came, telling her the artwork was great, and some contributions started arriving, as evidenced by the notifications on her phone. But it wouldn't be enough. Lily didn't have enough followers for that. Still, she was grateful.

She focused on finding other jobs on online sites and tweeted about accepting commissions for digital work. Lily loved painting in canvases the most, but she had also taught herself how to make drawings online. "At least digital colors and canvases don't run out," she said, opening the illustrator software to distract herself.

Her frustration grew as the days passed, and no one wanted to hire her. Being 17 didn't help, as she couldn't sign up for most apps. But one morning, Lily was about to leave for another day of fruitless job-hunting when she almost stepped on a huge package on the floor outside the front door.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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She could tell immediately that it wasn't a regular delivery as the package had a big red bow on top and no shipping label. But there was a card with her name on it. With trepidation, Lily grabbed it and went back inside. Her brow furrowed upon reading the card:

For Lily. My favorite artist. I know you'll put these to good use.

But she still unwrapped the package, and a quiet gasp escaped her lips at the sight before her. Inside was the set of the high-quality oil paints she'd wanted and two large canvases. There was no indication of the sender; for a second, she thought it was her mom. But there was no way Alison could afford that set.

"It must have been someone online," she breathed but frowned. "Although, I don't know how they got my address. That's weird."

She took out her phone and began a live session on social media, telling people about the gift on her doorstep and thanking whoever had done it.

"I can't wait to start working with these! Thank you so much!" Lily expressed to the camera and ended her live session. Forgetting about her job-hunting for the day, she rushed to her room, arranged all the supplies, and started pouring her heart out on the large canvas.

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It wasn't until much later that Lily saw one of her newest followers, artlover, had commented: 'Hope you like them!' on her post. She didn't think much of it until she discovered another surprise the next day.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Lily was bringing in the mail when a plain envelope bearing her name caught her attention. Inside was a local art gallery pamphlet advertising an open exhibition day for young artists. The gallery would also be running a competition with a cash amount and mentorship as the prize for the winning artist.

Her fingers shook as she stared at the pamphlet. This was the opportunity of a lifetime! She had to enter, but dark thoughts lingered in her mind as she wondered who might've put this in her mailbox.

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Her reservations about her mysterious benefactor only grew when she saw artlover had commented on one of her latest posts with a link to the same competition and suggested she enter it. Worries that she may have picked up a creepy internet stalker swirled through her mind all afternoon.

I probably shouldn't have accepted the paint set and stuff, Lily shook her head, staring intently at her computer. Some people gave gifts just because it pleased them, but she had a feeling this person had other intentions.

Additionally, the stalker knew her address. She had been so delighted with the present that she had barely thought about that aspect. The lack of a shipping label meant the creeper came to her house in person to leave it.

Her nerves only got worse as time passed, so Lily couldn't stop herself from confessing everything when her mother arrived and called.

When her mother arrived home that evening, Lily showed her the comments and told her about the package and the pamphlet. Alison clicked on artlover's profile and studied it in silence for several minutes.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"Okay...this is definitely a bit creepy, but I don't think we can report this to the police," she said. "Sweetheart, it doesn't look like they're expecting anything from you."

"Really?" Lily asked, biting her bottom lip. "But should I try to return what I have left of the paint supplies?"

"No, I think that's unnecessary," Alison shook her head. "And I know you're going to think I'm crazy, but I think you should still put your name down for this open exhibition."

"But what if artlover is there?" Lily asked. "What if they try to kidnap me or something?"

"I'll be there too," her mother assured her, "and I won't let anything happen to you. I'm not sure about the security at the gallery, but we'll have to stay and keep an eye on your paintings anyway. Other kids will be there, and artists too. Any danger is unlikely unless you get pulled into an ally. Now that we're aware, we can take precautions. You're carrying around that pepper spray I got you, right?"

"Yeah," Lily nodded, reaching for her purse. "I haven't used it yet."

"That's good. We should be fine," Alison continued, crossing her arms. "You can't miss this opportunity because of this random fan."

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The teenager still had misgivings about entering the open exhibition, but her mother was right. This opportunity to showcase her art was too good to pass up. She'd just have to go there prepared for trouble and trust her mom and the gallery's security to keep her safe.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Lily worked hard to complete some new paintings during the two weeks leading up to the exhibition. She was so focused and determined to produce a piece worthy of winning the competition that she hardly slept. She was a bundle of nerves when she and Alison carried her paintings into the gallery to set up.

"It's going to be great, sweetheart," her mother said as they approached the area assigned to Lily. "Your art will be a hit, and that artlover person won't have the balls to do anything while I'm around."

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Lily glanced sideways at her mom and hoped she was right.

Soon, Lily's paintings were arranged on easels in a corner of the main room. The gallery opened soon afterward, and gallerygoers poured through the doors. Alison took a moment to go to the restroom, so Lily clutched the pepper spray discreetly and watched as a group of art admirers came to look at her work.

Although Lily's ears were perked and ready, they discussed her paintings in soft voices. She couldn't hear much, except that most of them enjoyed it. The teenager was prepared to listen to all kinds of opinions, but that movement was still nerve-wracking.

"It's amateur at best," a man scoffed.

"Oh, please," a woman countered, and Lily could almost feel her rolling her eyes. "You only like things done by already well-known artists. But you can't become anything in this industry that way. Everyone starts somewhere. This work shows incredible potential."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"How so?" someone else in the group asked.

"There's not a lot of technical knowledge, so yes, she's an amateur. But the passion… I feel it," the woman continued, and Lily grinned stupidly. "This one… she was angry… this one is painful, almost like she is describing something traumatic… and this one is pure delight. It's dynamic. Versatile. That's what art needs."

The woman was passionate in her explanations, and Lily wanted to thank her. But she was too shy. Surprisingly, she didn't have to wait much because the woman came right up to her.

"Miss, you made these paintings?" the prim older lady asked.

Lily finally stood. "Yes, ma'am."

"These are fantastic, particularly that one," she pointed to the "pure delight" canvas that Lily had created when she received the new paint sets from artlover.

"Thank you."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Miriam," the woman introduced herself, and Lily was shocked to learn she was a teacher at an esteemed and expensive local art school. Lily dreamed of studying there after high school.

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"It's so nice to meet you," Lily said. The teacher asked about her plans for the future and told her how talented she was and that she should enroll in art school.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Before Lily could say that she couldn't afford it, her mother wrapped an arm around her waist, "Well, she's considering her options now, but your art school is on the list," Alison bragged, smiling proudly.

"Excellent!" Miriam commented. "I just can't get enough of that painting, so I'm buying it. How much?"

Lily's mouth opened, but no sound came out. Alison took over again. "We're not sure how these things are priced, but I think $150 is fair," she suggested.

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The teacher shook her head. "No, no. This one is worth $350," she stated, dribbling on her checkbook quickly. "Use this money for more supplies or your future school fund. You, young lady, have real talent."

Lily beamed at the praise, and her mother only tightened her arm.

When the group left, the teenager turned to her mother and jumped slightly. "My first sale!"

"I'm so proud!" her mother exclaimed, sniffing to prevent her joyful tears from falling.

Lily and Alison were both still in awe from that interaction when a familiar interrupted their delight. "I see you've put my gift to excellent use. I'm so glad you took my suggestion to enter the competition, Lily."

Lily turned in horror to see her father standing in the gallery, smiling like he had the right to be there.

"Are you serious? You're artlover?" she asked, appalled.

"Damian!" Alison uttered, shocked. "What are you doing here?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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Damian's smile faded as he looked from his ex-wife to his daughter. "You didn't tell her you saw me?"

Lily wanted to kick him as her mother swiveled her head. "You saw him?"

"Mom," the teenager shook her head. "He came to my job and yelled when my manager fired me." Lily rolled her eyes.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Alison asked, looking hurt.

"I didn't want to worry you, not when you're always tired from working two jobs," Lily replied, sadly shaking her head. "And anyway, I just walked away and told him to leave me alone."

"Ally, you're working two jobs?" Damian asked.

"Don't pretend you care about us!" Lily spat. Her hackles raised at the concerned look in her father's eyes. He had no right to be worried about them, not when he had left them so unceremoniously that night four years ago.

"Alison. Where's the money I've been sending?" he asked, and Lily stepped back. Her mother had closed her eyes and crossed her arms.

"It's all in her college fund," Alison confessed. "I didn't want to use it, so I just saved it for her future."

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"MOM!" Lily exclaimed, grabbing her mother's arm. "Dad was sending money all along? You've been struggling. Why didn't you use it?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"I didn't want to," she said, ashamed. "I didn't need it. Not when he left…" Her mother's voice broke, and all thoughts of money went out the window.

"See?" Lily looked at her estranged father. "See how you hurt us when you left! We don't need your money. Mom, you can send that back to him. I'll make my own future."

Her eyes were shining with anger.

"Lily, you have to let me explain," Damian sputtered. "I didn't want to leave. I had to! To protect you two!"

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"Damian!" Alison cautioned angrily.

"I had no choice!" he continued, getting desperate.

"Yes, you did!" her mother cried out. "We could've gone with you!"

"What kind of life would that have been for her?"

Lily's head was swiveling back and forth between her parents. Their words only got more and more confusing.

"A life where her whole family is still together!" Alison continued, the tears spilling freely. "We would've worked things out!"

"No!" Damian retorted, exasperated. "You two would've been in much more danger! They didn't know I had a family. It was much better this way."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"Then why are you here?" Alison yelled, and Lily finally noticed the eyes of other gallerygoers on them.

"STOP!" she raised her hands. "You two, stop this! We're being watched. Let's go outside."

They went outside after asking a kind gallery employee to watch out for Lily's paintings.

"OK, it's time to tell me whatever you two are arguing about," Lily said when they were away from curious eyes on a quiet street outside the gallery. "Mom, what do you mean we could've gone with him?"

"Oh, Lily," Alison sighed heavily.

"Lily, I was placed in a witness protection program," Damian revealed.

Lily started chuckling involuntarily. "No, seriously."

"Lily, I'm serious," her dad continued while Alison nodded. "I was working accounting for several funeral homes when I discovered something wrong in the numbers of a particular one."

The teenager frowned, crossing her arms. "OK…"

"They were laundering money, baby," he added, his voice sobering.

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Lily's eyes widened, and she turned to her mother, nodding in confirmation. "It's the truth, Lily."

"OK. What happened next?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"I took the information straight to the police. I was an independent contractor, so the funeral home didn't know anything about my family, and I used to give out my old apartment's address. I always forgot to update that info," Damian explained. "That apartment was trashed. Luckily, they were between tenants, so no one was hurt, but the police contacted some people and told me I needed to hide."

"You knew about this?" Lily asked her mother, confused and hurt.

"I knew, sweetheart," Alison replied carefully. "I wanted us to go with him. But your father didn't want that."

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Lily turned to her father.

"Baby, I had no idea how long the investigation would last. How long I would be on the road," Damian said beseechingly. "I wanted you two free of all that. They didn't know about you yet, but it was only a matter of time. I had to leave immediately. I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye."

"You could've told me! I was 13, not three," Lily stated, enraged. "I would've understood or tried to. It would've been much better than to live with the misconception that my dad left us high and dry."

"I just was scared, baby," Damian muttered, rubbing his forehead. "It wasn't an easy decision. I thought you would fight it like your mother, so I just left… to protect you."

"You could've told me too, Mom!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"I know. But it was too painful. I was too angry at your father for not considering taking us all," Alison sighed. "I was also angry at him for going to the police."

"Why?"

"Because it put him in danger," she shrugged. "I thought it may have been better to ignore whatever he found."

"But I couldn't do that," Damian shook his head, smiling slightly.

"OK," Lily bit her lip. "But what's changed? Why are you back?"

"The owners of the funeral home are finally in prison. I testified for the prosecution, and now, I'm free again," he said, shrugging.

"So, Dad was sending money, and you didn't use it?" Lily asked her mother.

"Yes, I was too angry, too proud," Alison confessed. "I know it was hard. I should've used it, but I did save it for your future."

"Which means…" Damian started and smiled, "you can go to that fancy art school you want."

"You heard that teacher?" Lily asked, pleased.

"Yes, I did," he confirmed. "I've seen your social media. You are a wonder, baby. I'm sorry for missing the last four years and not telling you the truth. But I want to make it up to you. I also saved some money for your college, so you can do whatever you want. Or take a trip, too. Artists need to see the world."

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Wait, wait. We're getting ahead of ourselves," Alison shook her head. "She's going to college and art school before any trip around the world."

Lily laughed, and it was a wholesome sound.

"OK, Ally," Damian acquiesced. "Let's go back inside and see how many paintings our little artist sells?"

"That's sound like a plan," her mother nodded.

The event at the gallery was a success. More people told Lily that she had great talent. Unfortunately, the big prize and mentorship went to someone else. But she didn't feel sad, especially knowing that her parents had money saved for her future.

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"I don't need comforting, guys. You already secured my future. Someone else needed this grant more than me," the teenager said when her parents tried to cheer her up.

"You are so wise," Damian marveled. He spent almost every dinner with Lily and Alison since the gallery event but never stayed the night. No one was ready for that, and Lily had no idea if they would get back together.

"Besides, I have another way of raising some extra money for my supplies," the teenager announced. "I posted a bunch of photos from the gallery and got more followers. More people are visiting my commission's link, and I've already got two orders."

"That's amazing, sweetheart," Alison breathed, surprised. "Wow. I had no idea people could still make money from art. I mean, you hear all these stories about starving artists."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"You're not wrong, Mom," Lily agreed. "It's hard for everyone. That's why I think going to college and art school is better. I'll have more options. I was thinking about studying business or… accounting." She grinned at her father, who beamed with pride.

"God, you're smarter than I was," Damian chuckled. "In college, I was undeclared for so long. It wasn't until I met your mom that I decided accounting was a good idea."

"That's right," Alison added. "I don't know if I told you before, but your father was a partier…."

Lily listened intently to stories about their youth. She vaguely remembered some of these conversations when she was younger, but they felt free to tell her more details now.

The way her parents laughed in unison filled Lily's chest with joy. She had no idea if they were getting back together, but having her whole family back together after those years was amazing.

After dinner, Damian said goodbye, and Lily went to her room to work on her commissions. However, her spirits were elsewhere, so she paused her work, took out a fresh canvas, and started a new piece. Without thinking, she created another beautiful piece, similar to the "pure delight" painting the teacher had bought.

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"It's my best work so far," she said at 4 a.m. while taking pictures for social media. Lily went to sleep with a smile on her face after posting them.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

A few days later, Lily was finishing up her commission paintings when her phone pinged with a notification. She had received a lot of praise for her new artwork and was expecting more of the same. But the new message said, 'Are you selling this painting?'

The teenager bit her lip, looking at the canvas. It was beautiful, and she loved it, but selling it would also be fantastic. She paced her room, trying to decide. "Oh, hell. Let's do it," Lily told herself and clicked to send a direct message.

'Yes, I am, but it's an expensive piece. $600.'

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'That's fine. I love it. But do you accept cash?'

'Sure! We can meet somewhere and save us any delivery fees.'

'Where?'

Lily thought for a second, and a petty thought entered her mind. She was about to earn $600 in one day, which must be way more than what Mr. Reynolds made in a week, so she suggested the café and set a time for the following day.

She never posted pictures of herself on her social media, so her last message to the buyer was, 'You'll recognize me right away because I have blue hair.'

'Great. See you then!'

That night, she told her parents, who were so proud.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"That's fantastic. I have an interview a few blocks away. I could meet you for coffee and wait in case the buyer is late or something," Damian suggested.

"Great idea, Dad," Lily nodded. "As long as you don't try to fight my ex-manager again."

"No promises," he grumbled sarcastically. They all laughed, and Lily talked about her commissions, which she planned to send through regular mail because the buyers lived states away.

She had the canvas wrapped and ready to go the next day, but she called her dad. "Dad, I'm on my way," she said.

"OK, I'm going into the interview. It shouldn't take long. See you in a few," her father said quickly and hung up.

In the subway, Lily chuckled to herself, thinking that her trip back to the coffee shop was much cheerier than the trip away the day her dad returned to her life.

Her headphones were on, and the randomized playlist was on a roll. She had yet to skip any song. Her feet moved to the beat as Pharrell sang about clapping along.

The happy, happy, happy…faded as Lily left the station. Another brilliant song started when the cafe came into view.

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"I'm gonna go, go, go. There's no stopping me," Lily sang aloud. Just as she reached the coffee shop entrance, she saw a crazy man waving his hand from across the street. Her hands went to her headphones.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Lily! Wait for me!" her father yelled, embarrassing her. She shook her head and grinned, finding it hard to believe he hadn't been in her life for four years.

"Lily?" a voice called her attention. She turned, still smiling, to see a random man dressed in a dark jacket.

"Yes," she answered. "Are you carson616?"

The man didn't answer, but his eyes looked sideways for one second before returning to her face.

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"LILY!!!" she heard the gut-wrenching cry, but the teenager didn't have time to turn.

A gun was pointed right at her face.

The sound was deafening.

It ended the world.

I'm burnin' through the sky, yeah…200 degrees, that's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit…

Tell us what you think about this story, and share it with your friends. It might inspire them and brighten their day.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a young woman who is forced to work in her father's hotel after he catches her mocking a maid. However, the spoiled girl has a plan to get out of her punishment.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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