The House Within [Short Story]

There has always been a house on your block that looked like no one lived there, but you come to realize that people actually did live there.  In fact, you would spend most of your time at this house because you loved this family so much.  Kamile was ashamed of where she lived, but she didn’t let it bother her because majority of her friends loved being there.  They loved her mom’s cooking and funny remarks.  Kamile was blessed to have a surrounding of people that was not judgmental, but loving.   Although her house was not in the best shape, it was built on hard work and love.  The walls had echoes of passion, the hallways had holes of strength, the kitchen was filled with joy.  Even though the outside looked bad, the inside felt rich.

Kamile raised her baby nephew, JJ, in this house.  She experienced womanhood in this house.  She seen her parents struggle in this house.  She couldn’t imagine life outside of what she was constantly surrounded by.  Her father had traveled to keep them afloat, coming home every weekend to be with his family.   Bringing back money to pay bills, support his kids, and put food on the table.  All this seemed crazy from the outside looking in.  Often, people would chatter about the fact that Kamile’s dad made so much money, but did not keep up with his house.  In a way, they were right.  Kamile didn’t see it though.  She only seen her parents taking care of the essentials which were shelter, food, and clothes.

When Kamile’s dad lost his job because of the economy crash, things became real.  She  would spend most of her school days without snacks, barely having funds for school functions, and outings with her friends.   At the end of each day, she had to get out off the bus, and face this outside appearance of her home.  She would also feel ashamed until she walked in.  Although they struggled, she still felt compassion and love when she walked through the door.  Kamile’s mom was good at freezing food and making things last, so she never had to worry about food, but when the house literally starting falling apart, she had to deal with the fear of having to leave this house that she loved and sometime hate.  What would they do?

The time came where her dad would find work from here and there, and her mom would work more to pay the bills when her dad couldn’t.  This is when Kamile seen her dad manhood being stripped from him and how much he resented it.  She also seen first hand how much a man could care so much for his family.  Kamile’s dad paid every bill in the house, and now he was in a position where he couldn’t pay anything.  She seen him struggle with being humbled.   She also would hear her friends talk about their families and how they were struggling, so that gave her comfort to know that she was not alone.  However, her position changed when she heard one of her friends talk about how much their parents had saved for hard times.  Kamile had never heard of such a thing.

She thought to herself, “people actually save money.”  She had never even heard this practice being done in her own home.  She thought about how it was a great idea for her family because then her dad wouldn’t feel so bad about not being able to provide for his family and her mom wouldn’t have to work as much.  Kamile wanted to share this new discovery with her parents, but when she walked through the door, she smelled food.  Her mom came out of the kitchen with a big smile and explained that her dad had made some big money on a side job he done for a friend.   Kamile was standing in shock because she knew what this meant.  It meant that her dad went fancy grocery shopping and they had a good meal for dinner that night.  Her mom went on to say that Kamile’s siblings would be joining them to celebrate.

As the night went on, she was not able to mention her new discovery of saving because everyone was laughing, smiling, and enjoying each other’s company.  Her baby nephew JJ was talking her ear off about his new basketball game and her siblings were questioning her every move since they were all grown.  She felt the love and thought it was great timing to share…

Kamile, “Mama and Dada, since we have more money, how much are y’all going to save?”  Everyone grew quiet.  Her mom responded, “We need to be saving but we got too many bills to pay.  What you know about saving anyway?”  Kamile explained that her friends parents saved money and it helped them during their time of struggling.  Her dad snapped, “well, they got money to save… we don’t!” Kamile became confused from her dad’s response because she seen the joy and laughter that filled the room disappear.  She seen her family become uneasy, then her brother speaks out, “They won’t save money, and I don’t know why.”  At that moment, Kamile seen that her news wasn’t necessarily good news.  It was convicting and offensive because it was addressing a big issue.  Her mom changed the subject and the love resurfaced. Kamile only seen what happened in that moment while everyone continued.  She eventually moved on from the topic because of its severity.

Years later, when Kamile was older and out of her parents house,  she found herself making the unwise financial decisions.  When she grew tired of struggling, she remembered that moment over dinner.  She remembered being silenced when truth was offensive.  When she remembered, she smiled over the love being shared, but frowned when she thought about her family’s struggle for acceptance.  She decided to visit her parents so she can experience their love and to also cover up her emotions, but when she pulled up she noticed the house.  Same condition, same repairs, but worse. As she parked, she seen it for the first time. Her parents were sitting on the porch. She never really seen them outside of the house.

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