To Buy A
year was 2020, but from the way the Summore conducted them, you'd
think it was 1920. Though not required, Mr. Travis Summore always
wore a suit and tie to work. He was store manager for Hall-Mart,
and the only dress code required was a blue or green shirt and
khaki or black pants. But Mr. Summore believed in leading by
example. Therefore, Mrs. Julia Summoe was required to pres a suit
each night before her husband worked so that he may follow his
value system to the fullest. Mrs. Summore had gone to school and
got her bachelors degree in both Psychology and Sociology. This
meant she easily gave no resistance to her husband's requests,
and supported his honor and integrity. Krissy Summore was only 12
years old, and did not care what her father wore to work, or what
her mother wore for that matter. Krissy's main concern, other
than boys and clothing, was that her now 18 month year old
sister, Ally Summore, would not stop touching her things. Krissy
was endlessly reminded by her mother: "You did that to me
constantly when you were that age."
don't remember doing it," Krissy shot at her as she scowled and
snatched her paint-set from Ally, "so it doesn't count," then
stormed away. Ally was often left in tears by Krissy's possessive
nature. She had been an only child for so long. Julia thought to
herself She is so much like myself, and so much like her
father, Julia sighed, Endearing and playful, but
short-tempered and very emotional. What a horrible combination
she can sometimes be! Julia worried about how she would turn
out, the struggles that lied ahead for both her and Ally, who
would eventually exhibit difficult traits as well. Ally was
already very insecure and passive, yet quick to cry when
offended. Julia tried as hard as a mother could to anticipate the
solutions to ease her daughter's challenges in life. But what
could anyone really know about an 18 month old or a 12 year old
really? And even more so, what could anyone ever really do about
Travis entered the bright yellow kitchen with a kitchenette
dining set, soft curtains over the sink and half-door. The
cabinets were a soft cream color, and the tiles were the antique
style: white with brown diamonds in the center of each. Travis
sat at the blond pinewood table which sat in the center of the
homey room filled with bright morning sunshine. He tucked a cloth
napkin above the collar of his shirt and waited for Julia to
bring him his breakfast. Julia stepped over from the oven, her
plain-cut peach and pale blue patterned dress hanging softly, and
walked in a manner that tempted Travis to call in late for work.
But Julia was all business with her family this morning. She blew
a shaggy blonde bang from her eyes, and set Travis' plate in
front of him.
strips bacon, eggs over easy, two slices of toast," she managed
to sound melodious and matter-of-fact as she spoke, "just how you
like it, honey. She pecked him on his cheek, and proceeded to put
Ally in Krissy's old highchair. "Wasn't it smart to save Krissy's
important baby things?" Julia asked her husband. Travis
didn't look up from the Tri-County Reader. He half heard
what she had said, but his thoughts were on buying a house. Julia
looked at him for a moment or two then sighed and went back to
feeding her daughters. As talkative of a person that she was, she
simply assumed to live wither her, one must learn to tune certain
amounts of dribble out. So sometimes she suffered silently her
feelings of neglect.
Krissy ate only half her breakfast. Likely because when she saw
her father lay his napkin on the table, she knew he was
done. Krissy wanted her father to give her a ride to school, not
her mother. Her mother talked far too much! Julia held Ally on
her hip as she waved good-bye to Travis and Krissy who were
driving down the street. They lived in a nice area: lots of
beautiful trees; sidewalks for the kids to play on; church only
two blocks away. Julia felt for the past ten years the vaguest of
vague discontents. She loved where they lived, and for twelve
years had yet to think of a better place to live. And yet…renting
from her mother-in-law just didn't seem to suit her concept of
adulthood. Julia looked at Ally and said, "Just you try and move
Daddy! It'll be like re-locating Mount Rushmore." Ally giggled
though she didn't understand the joke. Or at least Julia was
pretty sure she didn't.
Julia walked back into the house as she sucked in a deep breath
of air, making a mental check-list for the day. Mondays and
Fridays she did not have to teach, so she had ample time to catch
up on the housework that was created by four people. If only she
didn't have so many creative and fun ideas that got in her way,
the life of a teacher/housewife would fit her to a "t." Julia
closed the side door resignedly and walked to the pile of clothes
waiting for her to fold them.
Ally, NO!" Julia yelled in horror as
the infant pulled a large pile of Travis's shirts to the floor.
"Ally, go watch 'TinkerBell'!" Ally just stared up at her mother
blankly. Julia vacillated often whether she hated her eldest or
youngest daughter more. Then again, she couldn't decide who she
loved more, either. Krissy, at Ally's age, would have ran to
watch "Family Guy" if she heard the theme song. Heck, she'd run
to watch TV if her mother even started yelling. Ally,
though, was more clingy to Julia than Krissy had been.
Travis was constantly chastising her not to compare the two
girls, but Julia could not help herself. Julia didn't much care
for any child at this age. Both of their ages, really. Almost two
years old, and almost thirteen years old seemed like a good time
for the mother to jump ship for a while. Julia tried to think of
good reasons to be away from the house as much as she could.
Travis just seemed so much better with them! She supposed there
was a reason the term "Daddy's Girl" had come about, and both her
daughters were exactly that, daddy's girls.
After two hours of folding and re-folding clothes, scolding and
repairing the messes of Ally, Julia had finally completed one of
her many household tasks. It was now time for Ally to eat lunch,
and Julia headed for the kitchen. Before she was in there ten
minutes, the phone rang.
"Honey, I want some of that Honey Ham you cooked up last week for
dinner tonight," Travis said after Julia picked up the phone,
before she could even finish saying 'Hello.' "Do you have enough
money to buy one? Should I send down a porter to the house to
give you some?" he asked her. Julia held her speech a moment
longer. It wasn't money she needed; it was a reprieve from their
infant she needed to make cooking the ham more easy.
problem," Julia replied cheerfully, "I have to go to the store to
get Ally some more of those fruit snacks she likes. I'll just
pick it up then." Julia thought for a minute more, "Travis, if
they don't have the ham for some reason, what would you like as
don't know," Travis replied absently, "You decide."
"Travis! I hate deciding! You know that," but Julia noticed that
he had hung up, possibly during her protesting. She let out a
huff of frustration, then turned to the laundry in the bathroom.
Whoever said that socks are eaten by the dryer never had my
dryer, or was probably doing some wishful thinking! Julia
thought as she yelled, "Ally! Don't touch the toilet!" Dryers
don't eat socks, they make new ones. Just so women have to search
desperately for matches that don't exist. It's the only
explanation for this much laundry and only four people. I'm NEVER
Julia started both machines and walked Ally to the playroom,
where she got on her computer and began scanning family photos
for her mother-in-law, Katie Prince, had loaned her. Now this was
much more fun than laundry, but what Travis, Krissy, Katie, even
Ally never seemed to understand was that it was work to
scan and sort family photos, just a different kind of work.
Lesson planning, shopping for herself and the girls, heck
shopping with the girls, playing with them at the park,
organizing play-dates and slumber parties, these were all work
too. These were the things that looked fun to outsiders,
but inside Julia they were tearing her down. Julia had one of
those unfortunate personalities where pleasure only came when
doing what Julia wanted to do. Nothing else made her happy. And
everything was drudgery.
the store, Ally continuously knocked items off shelves in every
aisle they went through. Julia became too frustrated to yell, she
thought she had been done with all this stuff when Krissy had
turned four. Julia sighed for the third time that day. As she
passed the meat aisle, things looked up. A honey ham, just like
what Travis wanted, was staring right at her. She snatched it up
and went to get something to go with it, but in the produce
section she felt utterly lost. Should she bake potatoes, or cook
asparagus to go with the ham? Both would taste just as good, but
what did Travis want? She picked up her cell phone and
braced herself for some agitated yelling while she dialed his
"Travis Summore, manager, how can I help you today?" he sounded
so professional, and Julia felt the same surge of pride she did
every time she had to call him, which wasn't often.
"What did you want as a side dish for the ham?" Julia asked
don't know! You called me for that? I'm working! You decide,"
Travis yelled at her.
"Well, I've narrowed it down to asparagus or baked
"Just pick one. They both sound good," he told her with a
clenched-teeth patient voice. "I gotta go, I'm very busy right
now," and Travis hung up.
Julia stood in the middle of five different apple displays and
looked around her helplessly. She still didn't know which thing
would go best with the ham. She put them both in her basket, took
away a zucchini from Ally, and went to the check stand.
she got home, she was surprised to see Krissy and Travis in the
kitchen, sitting at the table while Krissy poured over homework
and Travis studied documents from work. Julia wanted to know what
he was looking at, but Travis hated people looking over his
shoulder, so she put the groceries away.
Julia walked to the window and spread open the apple and pear
patterned curtains to the sides so that late afternoon golden
sunshine poured into the kitchen.
you have some light to help you see whatever it is that you're
looking at so seriously," Julia said lightly. Krissy shushed her
violently, and Travis merely grunted.
"Well, what are those?" Julia asked Travis, after waiting over
ten minutes for him to offer the information.
"Nothing, just looking at possible houses to buy," Travis said
quiet and nonchalantly. "Not too much longer before I retire, and
I have to make sure that you can afford the payments after
make pretty good money doing what I do now," Julia protested,
"Let me see what you're looking at."
"What do you mean, 'No'?" Julia tore back the chair next to him
and sat down, trying to see the papers he shielded with his
hands. "What ever you're looking at, I'm going to have to live
there too. Probably longer than you will!" she added meanly,
"Come on, don't I have a say?"
not right now you don't," Travis growled.
"Okay, if not now, then when?"
"Later WHEN?" Julia raised her voice higher than she
normally liked to. "Besides, how can any thing you're looking now
change 'later?' It's in print!" Julia swiped the papers from him
and jumped from the table, running to the living room.
"Give those back!" Travis roared. Travis looked away stubbornly.
Julia didn't even look over to see his expression. Right then she
don't understand. These are your IRS statements, Child Support
reports, and fucking Sears collections; are those dumbasses still
after you? Wait, did you get these from my filing cabinet? How
did you know where the key was?" Julia shook away the additional
irritation that came with the idea that he went through her
things with out telling her. "What on earth does this have to do
with getting a house?" Then Julia stopped cold. The next paper
was one from a credit report company. In eight years his credit
score hadn't improved from the last time she checked it for him.
Julia didn't quite realize how that was possible, but she knew it
wasn't good. Suddenly she felt a loving sorrow for him. She
couldn't even act self-righteous anymore. All she could do was
try to lighten the mood with humor.
want me to co-sign?" Julia laughed, "I have a 740 now after
paying all that stuff off years ago. And my student loan payments
that you help me pay," she kissed him on the cheek
Travis turned sharply to her and glared, "This isn't
it's really not. It's the only way we could do it, though, if you
don't want ME to buy the house myself."
shouldn't have to buy the house, "Travis seethed forlornly and
angrily, "I have the money to make the payments. It's just those
damned doctor bills from forever ago. Stupid Sears…" he
Julia hugged her husband, "I love you, Travis. I wish that ten
years ago you had respected me enough to listen to my advice to
pay some stuff off, like I decided to start doing. Now I have a
745 credit score, and you're is still 514? How can it possibly
help your pride to ignore me all these years, yet screw yourself
up all these years as well? You should have answered some of
those collector phone calls, or initiated restitution yourself a
time or two." Travis opened his mouth, "That doesn't count the
IRS or California taxes!" he closed his mouth again.
Krissy popped her head up, "What's a credit score?"
prize for never getting a credit card," both parents
"Someday, fourteen years and counting, sometime you should just
listen to me!" Julia sat back down at the table. "I just hope you
understand how much it hurt every time you either criticized or
ignored me when I did make those good decisions." Julia
hugged Travis very tightly and then said, "I love you, but it
really hurts when the good things I did or do are totally
ignored." Julia slumped a bit in her chair when she sat back
down. "I love you so much, but I think now would be a good time
for you to say something like, 'Thank goodness you did something
to plan for the future.' Or something similar…" Julia looked at
her husband expectantly.
Travis stood up and walked to Julia, holding her by the shoulders
at arm's length and looked her square in the eyes. He then told
her the most amazing thing that Julia could ever imagine
was a very mature decision you made to begin to repair your
credit when you were so young. You have worked at turning
yourself into a wonderful young woman. At thirty-eight years old
you are exactly what you had dreamt you would be-not another one
of those idiot forty year olds still learning silly and simple
life lessons. Like those people in your anger management classes
you used to complain about. I'm so proud of you. If your parents
were still alive, I know they would openly tell you that you are
their favorite, and most improved, child. Because you are, Julia,
you have made so many progresses, even since I met you. Good