When life hands you lemons sometimes you just have to say screw the lemons and bail. This really shouldn't be me, driving through my beautiful maple lined neighborhood with sprawling brick homes, to a two bedroom apartment off one of the busiest streets in town. Goodbye private schools and designer purses; hello public school and part-time job.
This all started six months ago when dad got laid off from his job. I never thought that a big company would lay off so many engineers and that one of those engineers would be dad.
It probably wouldn't have been so bad if mom wasn't anything more than a housewife and a really bad one. During the last six months, dad spent every second on the couch feeling sorry for himself and mom spent that time going out to lunch. I really shouldn't have been surprised when my parents told me that our house was in foreclosure and we would be moving.
I really wondered what my family must look like from the outside. Before dad’s lay off everything was perfect. Mom didn’t need to work, Dad brought home the paychecks, and I spent my time being the glowing St. Christopher’s honor roll student. But now I was just another public school student working at a fast food joint.
Yeah that's right, public school and fast food. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. I searched for months for some kind of a mall job, but even though I practically maxed out my credit card at half the stores, they still wanted someone with experience and I had absolutely none. Which means I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my orientation at Burgers’R’Us, but I would rather look stupid in a hairnet than not be able to afford college. And I knew I would need something, because by the looks of the new apartment we pulled up to, it definitely wasn't a place I wanted to stay at for too long.
“Well this is nice." Dad tried to squeak out a smile as he stepped out of his SUV.
Mom peered over her obnoxiously large sunglasses. The look on her face said that she obviously was not impressed with the old brick building.
“And just look at this courtyard!" Dad started walking to the little area of green space that led up to the apartment building. Unlike our old house with blossoming trees and new flowers, half-dead grass and cheap lawn ornaments welcomed us to the apartment complex.
“Yeah I’m sure this is the perfect spot for a gang gathering or a shoot out," my voice dripped with sarcasm. I wheeled a suitcase out of my Mini Cooper and tried not to let the wheels get caught on every pothole in the parking lot.
Dad just smiled as mom rolled her eyes. Ever since dad got laid off he’d become even more of a pansy. It was like when they took his job they also took his manhood and all he could do was roll over and take whatever came to him.
“Alright, whatever, let’s see this place before I go to work,” I sighed.
Mom muttered something under her breath about my father not being able to provide, but I couldn’t understand exactly what it was and I’m sure that it was meant only for dad to hear.
Sometimes I actually felt bad for my dad. It wasn’t like he meant to get laid off and mom’s cynicism did not help. He did lose his job, but it wasn’t like she couldn’t find work. She just chose not to.
We walked down a tiny hallway with wood paneled walls and very outdated, shag carpet. I thought I would gag from the over powering smell of different ethnic cooking, but lucky for me, dad opened the door to our apartment before I choked to death.
“Now this is just temporary girls. Once I get my job back we’ll go looking for a new a house, a better house in fact.”This was the most positive I had seen dad in months, so I tried to smile, but it fizzled at the sight of the tiny apartment.
Outdated yellow kitchen that was no bigger than my old bathroom, living room with scalloped white walls and horribly scratchy beige carpet, and the two small bedrooms and even smaller bathroom weren’t big enough for a family of ants.
I couldn’t even think of what to say. The tears failed to impede my eyes. This wasn’t our beautiful four bedroom house, and this was my new.
Of course my mother couldn’t hide things as well as I could.
“This is just awful! How am I supposed to entertain in this dump? Marcus, can’t you call the bank again? I’m sure there is something they can do to stop our house from going into foreclosure!”
Dad just looked down. The sweat dripped off of his receding hairline. He was like a sad puppy. Mom didn’t even seem to care. I almost think that she liked him being beat down. Instead of waiting for him to respond she stomped over the horrible carpet, over the linoleum and toward the door.
“Where are you going?” Dad called after her.
She slammed the door behind her with a few faint chips falling to the ground as a result of it. She did that a lot lately. I’m not sure where she went, but it always seems to be after my parents start talking about our financial situation.
"Well…" Dad turned toward me with that pathetic look still plastered on his face. "I guess it's just you and me tonight, Bentley."
"Uh…actually I have work you know and then it's Brett's annual back to school party, so like I was just going to lay out for a bit before work and then head over thereafter."
"Okay. I guess I can try and hook up the TV and order in a pizza by myself." He stared at me, his eyebrows raised with that same sad puppy face plastered on.
I couldn’t miss Brett’s party. It was bad enough that I wasn't going back to St. Christopher’s, but I knew I would lose even more of my friends if I stopped hanging out with them. Ugh who knows what kind of people I would meet in the Rocktown public schools?