Living in Debt as a Quaranteen

I stare at my sister's back as she generously scrubs down pieces of glazed earthenware. Her long hair is wrapped in a ring of rubber, and her blue, or perhaps purple, shirt seems too oversized for her stature. While waiting and holding a white tree in my hand, I am distracted by the inhabitants in my head, who without my consent, decided to rerun the day. Four hours ago, my mother was surrounded by a mound of clothing. I climbed down the staircase to see her fastening a knot on a big trash bag. My main intention was simply to grab a bag of chips and climb back upstairs to watch a movie, but I ended up asking her a total of four times what she was doing with these clothes. She never responded. I thoughtfully rolled my eyes after I turned around and walked back up the stairs frustrated and annoyed. When I got to my room, I kicked my chair that was old anyways and kicked it again because it made too much noise. I didn't want to care and just wanted to watch a damn movie. But my curiosity got the best of me. I put my ear to the door and listened intently to the sounds of her footsteps as she took the trash bag outside. I heard the slam of the garage door, and a few moments later, the creak of the house door. However, soon, I redirected my attention to “funny” videos that were more traumatic than funny. People failing to flip on trampolines or falling off a slide didn't seem that funny to me. Not long after, the summer heat made rain drip down the pale skies, and I rushed to the room next door that had air conditioning. There's only one in the house. I sat down on a bed that was covered in white and the occasional golden flower, a bed that has seen more countries and lived through more generations than me. I like how it seems to remind me of how little I am every time the moon sprinkles through the window. In the left corner of the room, I saw my sister studying hard with her red glasses on that made her look like Garfield. Seeing her crouched over her desk made me feel a pang of guilt as I reflected on how inefficiently I used my time. Fool. I picked up my books and started studying, completing drills and model tests that hopefully could mask the situation I'm in and most importantly, get me into college. It's been a month since I've started practicing, and one thing I clearly learned is that practice isn't enough. Minutes felt like hours as I dragged on with my studies on a stained chair that I dreaded to sit on everyday. I even began to feel liberated by my mother's call to dinner. Although I never enjoyed eating in solitude, I ran down the stairs and sat myself down at the dinner table before anyone else did. I helped myself to a bowl of buckwheat noodles doused in red and savored the taste of the fiery lake. When I was halfway through the bowl, I heard two pairs of reckless footsteps make their way down the stairs and head into the kitchen. I looked up to see my sisters, but their attention seemed to be on my half empty bowl of noodles. I guess I should've waited. I was in the middle of refilling my bowl with more noodles when I heard the sound of jangling keys at the front door. I looked up to see a figure wearing a blue button down with an embroidered patch on the right corner. It was my father. A smile surfaced on my face as I saw his tired, yet cheerful expression. He placed a bag of leftovers from a restaurant that his office usually ordered from on the dinner table. My sister grabbed the bag and opened the thin, plastic containers full of fried rice and meat. The kitchen was full of laughter that night. After dinner, I took a look at the kitchen sink and felt the urge to run up the stairs before my mother or my siblings could stop me. There were piles of plates and several large pans that would take forever to wash. I guess my sisters also had the same thought because a few minutes later, I heard them running up the stairs too. In high spirits, I turned on my laptop to continue studying and was about to plug in my earbuds until I heard some sounds coming from downstairs. I went ahead and turned the air conditioner off. I didn't hear anything so I started making my way back towards my laptop until I heard screaming. I froze and clearly heard three words: liar, debt, foreclosure. I looked at my sisters, hoping that I was just hearing things. But their expressions told me that this was real, that this was happening. You know, I never believed it when people said that your world can turn upside down, but now, I don't even know what to believe. My legs felt weak, but I somehow made it to my father's room and went through the pile of envelopes that I had seen from weeks ago. I opened the first, the second, the third, only to see the sister shook me to life as I returned to see a pile of clean plates waiting to be dried. Suddenly, I am gripped with a terrible fear that twenty years later, all three of us will be in the same situation: the horror of reliving history.


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