When Willa returned from her walk, she noticed two familiar cars parked in Collette’s driveway. Mercy and Shirley were visiting. She paused at the bottom of the outside staircase that led to the apartment above the garage, distracted by a fluttering of movement visible through Collette’s living room window.
There was Collette, banging on the window, waving her arms in a frantic motion, urging Willa to come over.
Willa’s heart skipped a beat, panic chasing her steps as she rushed towards Collette’s house. Had something bad happened? It was hard to tell from Collette’s expression; the woman looked like she was having some kind of fit the way she was jumping up and down and flinging her arms about. Behind her, Willa saw Mercy and Shirley in an equal state of commotion.
“What’s going on?” Willa asked in a gasping voice as she flung open the front door. “Is everything okay?”
Collette, Mercy and Shirley turned to face her. All of them spoke at the same time. Between the laughter, the hollering, and the happy dances around the living room, Willa couldn’t pick out a coherent string of words from any of them. She pressed her hand to her chest and sat down on the edge of the couch. At least no one was hurt.
The relief she felt at that moment made her realize just how much these women had come to mean to her in the three short months she’d known them. They were her friends. She’d never had friends before. Colleagues, yes, casual acquaintances, yes, but never this. This was a brand-new emotion, and she didn’t know what to do with it. So, she sat and watched and waited until the women had calmed down enough to speak in logical sentences.
“I got a phone call—”
“The home show people called Shirley—”
“Remember that contest we all entered—”
Willa raised her hand in a stopping motion. “Can just one of you talk, please? It gives me a headache when too many things are thrown at me at once.”
“Oh, right,” Shirley said. “Sorry, hon.” She looked at Mercy and Collette for permission before continuing. “You remember that contest we entered at the home show last month, right?”
Willa frowned, recalling the day in early March when she and the girls had gone to the Rhode Island Home Show. Mercy had been looking for ideas for a kitchen remodeling project. Shirley was looking for her next husband. Collette and Audrey had agreed to go because it was “something to do on a Sunday.” Willa hadn’t wanted to go at all; she usually wasn’t comfortable in large crowds or places where there was too much light and color and noise. She’d reluctantly agreed to go only after Collette pointed out that Willa was a homeowner now with a house that needed repairs. It would be a good opportunity to scout out some remodeling contractors.
“I don’t remember entering a contest,” she said.
“You didn’t. We did,” Collette said.
Willa scanned their expectant faces. “Did one of you win something?”
Mercy clapped her hands together. “You did!”
“How is that possible?”
“Each of us filled out an entry slip and put your name down,” Shirley explained. “But we wrote in our own phone numbers, just in case.”
“You didn’t have a phone yet,” Collette pointed out.
“Okay. So... What did I win?”
They all began talking at the same time again, but it was Collette’s voice that overpowered the others. “A friggin’ home renovation, that’s what,” she crowed. “The whole house!”
“And that’s not all,” Mercy said. “You’re going to be on a TV show!”
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