The Lesson

by Joanne Miller

Summary

A writer is visited by an ex-acquaintance who had hired him as a 10-year-old to care for her rosebushes while she was away.  He failed to care for the bushes and they all died.  It was the beginning of his life lessons on stewardship.  Surprisingly, and unbeknownst to him until today, she also learned something about stewardship.

Characters

Ken Ė writer of self-improvement books 
Linda Ė former acquaintance from Kenís hometown.

Script

(Scene opens with Ken sitting outdoors reading.  Linda enters.)

Linda: Good morning.  Are you Ken Jacobson?

Ken: Yes, I am.

Linda: Iím not sure if youíll remember me.

Ken: (stands) You look very familiar.  Oh, my gosh Ė Mrs. Wilkens!

Linda: Thatís right.  Only, please, call me Linda.

Ken: I havenít seen you since I was a kid!  How many years has it been?

Linda: I donít think we want to go into that.

Ken: (Laughing) I guess youíre right.  Here, sit down.  Itís so good to see you, but how did you find me?

Linda: Oh, youíre a very famous person now and this is a small town.  I just asked at the local gas station and they were able to tell me where you lived without any trouble.

Ken: So are you here on vacation?

Linda: No.  I came to see you.

Ken: You did?  May I ask why?

Linda: Iíve read a few of your books and theyíre very good.  I wanted to tell you that firsthand.  The last book of yours that I read was called Stewardship.

Ken: Ah, I see.

Linda: I thought you might.

Ken: You were in that book: as a matter of fact you might say that you ARE that book, or at least the first chapter.

Linda: Yes, I did see myself in there.  Even after all these years it was like it happened yesterday.

Ken: I know what you mean.  I was all of 10 years old at the time, and even to me it seems like yesterday.  Of course you know how sorry I am that the whole thing happened.

Linda: I know that now.  Thatís why Iím here.  At the time I just couldnít seem to bring myself to talk to you about it.  I suppose I was just too upset.  As time went by I think you and I just avoided each other, although I did get your apology in the mail.

Ken: Yes, that was one note my mother didnít have to coerce me to write.

Linda: Iím glad to know that.  Iím also glad to know how it affected your life.

Ken: It certainly did.

Linda: Tell me what happened.

Ken: Well, as you know, you asked my mother if you could hire me to take care of your prize-winning roses while you were away.  I was so thrilled to have a job that actually paid money.

Linda: At ten years old that is a thrill.

Ken: The first day I started out to water them and one of my buddies asked me to go fishing with him, so I thought Iíd just water the plants later.  Of course, I forgot but still I thought itís only one day; Iíll go tomorrow.

Linda: Of course you had no inkling of how delicate they were.

Ken: You had tried to tell me but I was just a kid.  Anyway, the next day I set out for your house and all the other kids were heading to the ball field so I figured Iíd play ball and then go to your house later.
 
Linda: Only later never came.

Ken: Youíve got it.  When I got home that night my mother asked me about the roses.  I told her a half-truth.  I said that was the first thing I set out to do that morning.

Linda: Which was true except that you never made it to my house.

Ken: Thatís right.  Anyway everyday kept going like that.  It was summer and there were a million things to do that were more interesting than taking care of some rosebushes.

Linda: But you did go over at some point.  It must have been shortly before I came home.

Ken: Very shortly!  I probably just missed you!  When I did finally get over there it had been 2 weeks with no water for those rosebushes.  You know what they looked like.

Linda: I sure do.

Ken: I couldnít believe it.  They looked very dead to me but I hoped if I just poured some water on them either they would come back to life or youíd think something else had killed them other than my negligence.

Linda: Of course when I saw them I knew you hadnít watered them until very recently.

Ken: When you came over to tell my mother I saw you walking up the driveway with tears streaming down your face.  I ran out the back door and out to the fields.  I couldnít face you like that.

Linda: Your poor mother.  She felt so bad.  She told me how she had asked you if you had done your job.  You must have always led her to believe youíd done what you said youíd do.

Ken: It wasnít always easy.  I donít think I ever actually lied to her, but half-truths can be extremely misleading if you practice what youíre going to say.

Linda: Well, at least you learned from it, and so did I.

Ken: You did?

Linda: Certainly.  I learned never to hire a 10-year-old child to take care of something so precious.

Ken: (Laughing) You have a point there.  That episode was the beginning of my education on stewardship.  I learned that if you donít care for whatís important to someone else you may never have very much thatís important to yourself.

Linda: I read that in your book and itís a good point.  I learned something else from that painful incident though.

Ken: Whatís that?

Linda: Those rosebushes had become like children to me.  My whole life seemed to center around them and their well being.  Once they were dead and gone I found out that life, even my life, still went on.  I could have replaced them, but I never did.

Ken: Why not?

Linda: I discovered that Iíd been spending so much time on them that people I had been helping before I got them were now in need because of my lack of time and attention.

Ken: I see.

Linda: Do you remember Mrs. Sanderson who lived next door to me?

Ken: Yes, I do.  She was in a wheelchair, wasnít she?

Linda: Thatís right and I had always done her yard work until that summer.  When I got my roses I didnít have time for her yard too.  On my way home from seeing your mother I noticed how some of her plants were dying for lack of water and attention.  The very thing I was so upset at you for I was also guilty of doing to someone else.

Ken: Wow, that must have hurt.  It was kind of like pouring salt into an open wound.

Linda: At first that was true, but as I adjusted my priorities I seemed to heal something inside of me that I hadnít even known was hurting until that day.

Ken: So you learned about stewardship.

Linda: I guess I did but until I read your book I didnít know that was the lesson I had learned.  So Iím here to thank you, not just for your book but also for the life lesson you inadvertently helped me to learn.

Ken: Thank you, Mrs. Wilkens, I mean Linda.  It means a lot to me to hear you say that.  And may I give you a little something to remember me by?  (Hands her a rose, which had been hidden in a bouquet of other flowers.)

     Lights out.
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Copyright John & Joanne Miller, all rights reserved.
This script may be performed free of charge, provided no charge is made for entrance or for programmes. In return, the
authors would like to be notified of any performance. For further information regarding performance rights, they may be
contacted at: NIJWMiller@aol.com.