To Buy A House
The 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.”
“I 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 it?
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.
“Two 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
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.
“No 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.
“No 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 an alternative?”
“I 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 done!
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.
At 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 office
“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 meekly.
“I 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 potatoes.”
“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.
When 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.
“Now 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 I’m gone.”
“I 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?”
“No, 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 didn’t care/
“I 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.
“You 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 lovingly.
Travis turned sharply to her and glared, “This isn’t funny.”
“No, 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.”
“You 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 muttered.
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?”
“A prize for never getting a credit card,” both parents cried.
“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 hearing.
“It 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 girl.”
© Copyright 2016 Jessa Sumner. All rights reserved.