Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: GREED (avarice, particularly for wealth and things) (01/22/15)
TITLE: One Thousand And One Arguments
By Zacharia Fox
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Peering around the stairwell wall, I saw his flashlight on the far side of the basement, pointed at a red, metal box mounted on the wall. “Buddy,” he said without turning around. “I told you to wait upstairs.” There was no warning in his voice, just a hollow tone, so I groped my way toward him.
“What’s wrong with the electricity, Dad? Is it almost fixed?” When I hugged his leg, I saw his shaky hand maneuvering a rubber band and a twisty-tie to hold a switch in place. He took the flashlight from his mouth, dropping his other hand to his side. I clutched his trembling hand, and fingered the mechanic’s callouses.
“That should do it bud,” he said through heavy breaths. “Take this flashlight and go flip the switch by the stairs.” Smiling, I darted across the room, flashlight bouncing as it painted dancing shadows on the walls. I slapped the switch and the lights flickered on.
“It works Dad! Now we can play Mario Cart!”
Snuggled close to him on his bed, we played round after round, stray kernels of popcorn littering the room. My younger brothers watched, jumping on the bed when I won a race. I looked to my dad for praise, but he only stared blankly at the screen, and wiped sweat from his brow.
“Are you alright, Dad?”
“I’m just cold,” he said through quick breaths. “I’m going to grab a jacket.”
As he stood, I heard my mom’s panicked call. “David!” She always used that tone when something was wrong. My chest tightened as the pain from one thousand previous arguments came rushing back.
My dad slinked from the room, and I saw my mom marching toward him. “Renee…”
“Why is there no money in the bank?” When I felt one of my brother’s gripping my arm, I wanted to yell at my mom to stop, but my words caught in my throat.
“Renee, it’s alright,” my dad said.
“Don’t tell me it’s alright! And how is our electricity on? I didn’t pay it after they shut it off because there is no money in the bank.”
“I took care of it honey.” He reached for her arms but she slapped his hands away.
“Don’t honey me. You can’t just turn it on! They’re going to come here and shut it back off, and you know it!” Her voice cracked and her lips quivered as her eyes closed.
“I got you something.” My dad riffled through his pockets, as my mom gaped at him. He revealed a gold ring with a whopping diamond.
“Where did you get that?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Dave, whose is that?”
“It’s yours Renee.”
“You stole it, Dave! I don’t want it! Take it back,” she screamed as she smacked the ring out of his hands.
My dad dove for the ring, pulling it close when he found it. Hunched in a corner, he stared at it for a moment, before saying flatly, “I have to go.”
I felt my younger brothers hugging me on either side, as my mom started to sob. “You were going to sell it, you lying bastard. You’re using again!” She launched at my dad, swinging wildly and pounding his back. My dad sprung to his feet and shoved her into the wall.
“Shut! Up!” I trembled, breaking into tears as my dad towered over my mom.
He lifted his hand, and I screeched out, “Dad, don’t. Please don’t.” He glanced back at me. Then, stuffing the ring in his pocket, he ran down the stairs and out the front door. My mom slid down the wall, curled into a heap and wept. “Why God?” I heard her say.
When one of my brothers started crying, she came and held us. “He’ll come back, mom. He always does,” I said. She bit her lip.
I tried playing Mario again, but it wasn’t fun without my dad. Later, I heard the doorbell and ran to the steps hoping to find my dad. It was a man with a cap and a clipboard, saying something about ‘power’. My mom crumpled in the doorway, crying.
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