Once upon a time, there lived a parent who had a beautiful house, and acres of fruitful land, and two children.
The elder child was dutiful and hardworking, never complaining about anything.
The younger child, on the other hand, ached to leave the confines of this home.
One day, the younger child said to the parent, "I wish you were dead so I could take my share of the inheritance and get out of here."
The parent's heart broke a little bit, and ze handed over the younger child's portion of the inheritance.
Delighted with this newfound freedom, the younger child rushed out of the house. She was soon wallowing in all the luxuries money could buy -- food, sex, drugs, clothing, jewelry, transportation, lodging. The parent missed the daughter very much, but ze didn't talk about it -- the elder child had always bristled at the younger's longing to leave, and now he seemed even more quiet and withdrawn, working harder than ever now that they were short one laborer and with a significant cashflow problem.
Time passed, and the land continued to flourish, despite famine and storm. And the parent continued to miss the younger child.
Not everyone flourished in the midst of famine and storm. The younger child found that bartenders who had been willing to comp her drinks for little more than a smile started asking for more and more. Her wealth began to decline, and she started to sell many of the items she had accumulated -- always at a loss.
Things grew worse and worse, and eventually she was out of items to sell. She'd been using her body as a kind of currency since the beginning, but that had always been fun, a game she chose to play. Now she didn't have a choice.
As the only clothes she had were wearing out, she realized soon she would literally have nothing to call her own -- not even her body. She thought longingly of living even as a servant in her parent's house. She knew she was no longer worthy to be called "daughter," but perhaps, if she begged, she would be allowed back as a servant.
She swallowed her pride and began the journey home.
While she was still far off, her parent saw her and ran out to meet her on the road, embracing her.
She cried, "I have sinned against heaven and you; I am no longer worthy to be called your child."
But the parent called the servants and said, "Quickly! Bring the finest robe and put it on her, covering her shame. Put a family ring on her finger and sandals on her feet that she no longer be in the dirt. Bring the fatted calf and kill it. We shall have a feast and celebrate, for this child of mine was dead and is alive again, she was lost and is found."
So the celebrating began.
When the elder child came back from working in the fields and heard the commotion, he asked one of the servants, "What is going on?"
The servant replied, "Your sister has come home, and your parent has killed the fatted calf to celebrate."
He fumed and refused to go in. When the parent heard about this, ze went out and pleaded -- "Come inside and celebrate with us..."
But the elder child said, "Haven't I worked hard for you all these years, never complaining and never disobeying, and you've never given me even the smallest thing to use to celebrate with my friends, but this ... " he waved his hand rather than say the word, "squanders everything and you kill the fatted calf the moment she shows back up?"
The parents' eyes filled with tears, and ze said, "My child, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this sister of yours was dead and is alive again. How could I fail to celebrate that?"