Rick was deeply in love with his high school sweetheart, Shannon. However, after leaving her to pursue his career, it seemed like he had lost his last opportunity at love. But, by God’s grace, he would later stumble upon a second chance.
Rick and Shannon lay under the large, isolated oak tree within the beautiful green pastures of the open veld near their old high school. They lay there silently, waiting for the first star to peek through the red-violet sunset sky as they often did.
It was a tranquil and sacred tradition since their earlier years as high school sweethearts. They would sit there in complete silence until one of them spotted the first star. Shannon would almost always win, spotting it first.
However, there were very rare occasions where both Rick and Shannon would spot the first star at the very same time. In such magical moments, they would lovingly break the silence with a kiss.
“Yes!! I win again!” Shannon said in excitement, pointing to a bright star in the sky.
“Oh, c’mon! How do you do that? It’s literally as if the stars speak to you. You always get a heads-up!” Rick insisted in friendly frustration.
“What can I say, Ricky? The stars recognize one of their own,” Shannon said, batting her eyes. “You could still get a kiss if you want,” a flushed Shannon added.
“Say less,” Rick said, kissing Shannon gently.
“Wait,” Shannon said, backing away. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something,” Shannon confessed.
“Naming your first child after our favorite Rolling Stones song definitely gets you another kiss, my dear sir.”
“Shoot,” Rick simply responded. Shannon quickly took a picture of the two with a polaroid camera and then handed it to Rick with a chuckle.
“Sorry, I just had to capture this moment… Okay… So, what name would you give to your first child?” Shannon asked.
“Child?” Rick asked, surprised.
“Yes… Theoretically,” Shannon explained, rolling her eyes.
“Oh, okay. Girl or boy?” Rick asked, giving it deep thought.
“Uhm… Let’s say a girl,” Shannon replied.
“Ah! That’s easy. Angie,” Rick said.
“Angie? As in, short for Angela?” Shannon asked.
“No. As in…” Rick said before breaking into song, singing, “Angie, Angie. When will those clouds disappear?”
“Angie, Angie. Where will it lead us from here?
” Shannon chimed in, joining Rick in song as she rested her head on his chest.
“Naming your first child after our favorite Rolling Stones song definitely gets you another kiss, my dear sir,” Shannon professed, turning to Rick with a loving gaze.
“Wow. Seems like I may have been the winner today after all. I mean—” Rick started before being hushed by Shannon, gently placing her finger over his mouth.
“Shhhhh… You talk too much,” Shannon whispered as she began to kiss Rick, the last glimpse of sunlight fading behind them.
Months passed, and what had initially been a theoretical question soon became a genuine desire for Shannon. Rick and Shannon had been dating since high school. After high school, Shannon studied at a local college while Rick struggled to get his small business off the ground.
Rick struggled to provide financially for Shannon the way he would have liked. His business was not making any progress, and Shannon was at a point where she wanted to start a family with Rick. Rick wanted to focus on his career and wasn’t ready to start a family. He simply didn’t have the means to make it happen at this point in his life.
One day he walked into a small local jewelry shop. He had saved up a little money, hoping to finally ask Shannon for her hand in marriage. He was beginning to open up to the idea of a family, and this would be the first step for him.
However, when the money he had saved couldn’t even pay for a fraction of the cheapest ring in the store, it finally dawned on him; he couldn’t be the man Shannon deserved.
That same day, Rick made a rash decision he would later regret. Shannon came home from college one day, eager to see her beloved Rick.
“Hey, baby! I decided to spoil you today and bought you your favorite. Chow Mein!” a delighted Shannon announced as she rushed through the apartment door with take-out in hand. However, the apartment was empty.
“Ricky?” Shanon yelled, looking around before coming across a note on the small dining room table. Shannon picked up the note, instantly dropped the take-out bag, and began to weep as she read the note. It read:
“To my favorite star: I’m sorry to do things like this. I’ve left for New York to try and get my businesses running. I realized if I stayed, I’ll never be able to be the man you deserve, let alone the father, our little theoretical Angie, would’ve ever deserved. I didn’t have the courage to tell you this to your face. I hope you can one day forgive me for that. Take care. P.S.: I’ll be with you in every sunset.”
15 years later…
Rick had become a big-shot business mogul in New York. His business slowly began to pick up after leaving for New York, and he was eventually able to use revenue and success from that business to go into other ventures.
Rick had devoted his life to his career. He had often thought about Shannon, but after hearing that she had gotten married about two years after he had left, his career was all he had.
If he wasn’t hard at work, Rick spent his money and time on the new fast life he had become accustomed to. He grew an appetite for fast cars and the company of younger women. Most of the women his age he encountered either had families or weren’t interested in superficial relationships.
One day, Rick received some sad news. His grandmother had passed away, and he had to go back to his hometown for her funeral. His grandmother had raised Rick, so the news was heartbreaking. After the funeral, he had to spend several weeks in his hometown settling the issues with grandma’s house.
As Rick was on his way to meet with his grandmother’s lawyer, he came across a second-hand vintage car dealership. Rick loved fast cars, but vintage cars were simply his Achilles heel. He still had some time before his meeting, so he decided to go in and have a look.
Rick came across a beautiful, blue retro car he had been eyeing for a while. Second-hand wasn’t really his style, but this wasn’t any ordinary car. Plus, the prices at the dealership were lower than the ones he was used to in New York, so he immediately bought the car.
Later that day, at sundown, Rick sat on his grandmother’s porch, going through an old box with some of his things. In it, he found the picture Shannon had taken with the polaroid camera all those years back.
Returning to his hometown made him think of her, but seeing the picture brought back old emotions. Emotions that had never died but still lurked deep within him.
He thought of her often but figured he had no option but to move on with his life, only wishing she was happy with her new family wherever she was. As he looked up to the sky, he spotted the first star. A tear trickled down his cheek — remembering the star that got away.
Days later, Rick was having breakfast in a cafe when he saw a little girl peculiarly moving around his car. The girl got closer to the car and began to cry on its bumper. Rick rushed out of the cafe to find out what was happening.
“What happened?” a concerned Rick asked the girl.
“It’s my late dad’s car,” the girl said, crying.
“How do you know it’s your dad’s car?” Rick asked, confused.
“There’s my name scratched on the backseat of the car,” the girl said.
“And what’s your name?” Rick asked as he approached the backseat to verify.
“Angie,” the girl said just as Rick found the imprint. Rick was taken aback.
“Please open the glove box, sir,” Angie begged. “I left something there,” she concluded. Just then, a woman rushed out of a nearby shop, approaching Angie.
“Angie, come here! I’m sorry for my daughter, she…” the woman started before completely freezing up. The sight of Rick stopped her dead in her tracks.
As Rick turned to the woman, his heart skipped a beat; it was Shannon. She was older but still just as beautiful. The years had been kind to her, aging her gracefully.
“I just wanted to get my doll, Lindsey. My dad bought her for me on my last birthday,” Angie explained, clearly not sensing the tension in the air as Rick and Shannon stared at each other in awe. Both of them were speechless, with no idea where to begin.
Rick grabbed the doll from the glove compartment and handed it to Angie. He tried to play things off casually but could barely keep his eyes off Shannon.
“Hmm… Shannon?!” he finally said.
“Ricky,” Shannon responded.
“You know, you’re still the only one that calls me that,” Rick said with an awkward chuckle before quickly turning to Angie. “Is this…?” Rick started nervously.
“Yes, that’s my daughter. An—Angie,” Shannon explained hesitantly.
“Thank you, sir!” Angie said, hugging Rick tightly. The warmth of the little girl’s hug caught Rick off-guard, and his heart melted. It had been a while since he had experienced such a pure, loving encounter.
“Sorry to hear about your grandmother, Ricky,” Shannon said to Ricky, then turned to her daughter. “Angie, we should go,” Shannon said, gently tugging her. They turned to leave, then:
“Wait! Please, Shannon. Uhm… Could we maybe grab a coffee? Just to catch up. It’s been so long,” Rick pleaded.
Shannon stopped, saying nothing for a brief moment. Then, hesitantly, she turned around, responding, “Sure. Just to catch up.”
Rick and Shannon sat at the restaurant, looking around awkwardly while Angie played with the other kids in the children’s play section. Rick finally mustered up the courage to break the ice.
“Look, Shannon… I just have to start by apologizing for how things ended. I made a stupid deci—” Rick started before Shannon chimed in.
“It’s okay, Rick. I’ll admit, it hurt. But it was a long time back. We were both so young. Let’s not dwell on the past. Tell me what’s been happening with you,” Shannon said.
“Shannon… I’d like you to keep the car. After all, it is yours.”
Rick and Shannon got to talking. They stayed at the coffee shops for hours, catching up. Rick told Shannon about his success in New York and that while his career thrived, he never found love after her.
Shannon told him how she got married after he left. And while she found a great husband, she still remembered the moments they shared. She even named one of her three children after their favorite song, Angie.
Rick learned that Shannon’s husband had passed away. Things became tough for Shannon financially, so she sold the car to help them with their finances.
Her daughter was angry with her after she sold the car, but she mentioned nothing about the doll. She figured she was mad because of all the memories and various expeditions they’d experienced together in the car.
Shannon admitted that it wasn’t easy selling the car and that she wasn’t a fan of taking the bus, especially while raising three children, but it was necessary given their circumstances.
She was just glad it landed in the right hands. Rick drove Shannon and Angie back home. He even picked up Shannon’s other two children from school. The children were happy to be in the car again and were all grateful to Rick.
“Luke, please help your sister prepare for supper. I’ll be there in a minute,” Shannon yelled as her children rushed inside the house while she stood near the car with Rick.
“Wow… You’ve got quite the football team on your hands there,” Rick joked.
“Yeah… My little miracles. They can be a handful, but I don’t know where or who I’d be without them,” Shannon said.
“Shannon… I’d like you to keep the car. After all, it is yours,” Rick said, handing Shannon the car keys.
“No, Rick. That’s kind of you. But, no. There’s no need. I’ll be fine,” Shannon said, stepping back uncomfortably.
“Please, Shannon. It’s the least I can give you after what I did. It would help me sleep better at night. Plus, you said it yourself earlier; what are the chances of me being the one to buy your late husband’s car? Please, for me,” Rick insisted.
“I don’t know, Rick. That’s a lot. I mean, a car?” Shannon said, shaking her head in disapproval as she eyed the keys.
“Trust me. It’s nothing. I have plenty more back home, and none of them will ever bring me the joy and peace I’ll get from being able to do right by you, even in the slightest. I know nothing materialistic could make up for the pain I’ve caused, but please allow me to at least try. If not for yourself or me, then for the kids,” Rick begged.
Shannon reluctantly accepted Rick’s offer. They said their goodbyes, and Rick caught a bus back home. As he was riding back on the bus, he smiled to himself as he looked out the window.
“No, I’m serious. I realized that this was my second chance. God gave me a second chance for the mistake I made all those years ago. I was foolish, Shannon. And you… You were kind to me after all that I’d done. Thank you.”
“What are the chances?” Rick thought as he stepped out of the bus. That was his last thought before a bright light flashed from his peripheral. Rick was suddenly hit by a car only seconds after hopping off the bus. An ambulance came moments later and took him to the hospital.
A few days later, Rick gained consciousness. The first thing he saw as he awoke was a doll on his bedside table. After a while, he finally recognized it; it was Angie’s doll. Moments after awakening, Shannon and the children rushed into the room. Angie gave him a warm hug that very moment.
“I told you Lindsey would keep him safe,” Angie told her mother.
“You did, my angel. Kids, please give me a moment to talk to Rick alone,” Shannon said. The children stepped out.
“Shannon? How long have you been here?” Rick said faintly
“Two days. One of my friends that work here recognized you and called me immediately. They were worried about you since nobody had pitched to see you,” Shannon explained.
“Thank you, Shannon. My favorite star,” Rick said with a cough.
“Please don’t call me that. I just did what anyone else would have,” Shannon said.
“No, I’m serious. I realized that this was my second chance. God gave me a second chance for the mistake I made all those years ago. I was foolish, Shannon. And you… You were kind to me after all that I’d done. Thank you,” Rick confessed in tears. Shannon kissed him on the forehead and hugged him.
Weeks later, Shannon was sitting under the old oak tree as she and Rick used to all those years ago.
“I’m surprised you still come here,” a voice said behind her. She turned to see Rick approaching her.
“Ricky? I thought you’d left for New York,” Shannon said, surprised.
“I decided to move back home,” Rick casually said, joining her.
“Good to have you back,” Shannon simply said as they shared a warm smile. Almost completely in sync, they both reclined, lying on the grass.
The first star had just appeared above them. Without a word, they both turned to each other and shared a brief, innocent, gentle kiss. They then continued to watch the sunset without uttering a single word.
Rick sold his businesses and moved into his grandmother’s house. Since he was no longer working, he would spend most of his days helping out Shannon with the children.
He came to learn that money wasn’t the key to his happiness. But rather, it was the many precious relationships that came with the walk of life. Shannon was impressed by Rick’s change of heart. They became good friends, and about a year later, they got married; right under the old oak tree.
What can we learn from this story?
Money or material things are not the key to happiness. After sacrificing what he had with the love of his life, Rick learned that money is not the key to happiness.
God provides second chances, and there’s always hope. Even though Rick had made a huge mistake, by the grace of God, he was able to make things right in the end.
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