Foreclosure: Write a poem or short story about someone who has lost or is about to lose their home.
Living in your car wasn’t that bad if you put your mind to it. After all, what was a car but a moving house that would come with you wherever you needed to go? Or wanted to go. That’s why the first night she’d slept on the beach, with her windows cracked open to feel the cool breeze of the summer. She’d always dreamt of having a house by the beach, with a swing on the porch from which she could see the sea. Well, there it was, and as she sat the night before, her trunk open, looking at the ocean, she told herself this couldn’t possibly be so bad.
It had wiped them out, her husband’s debt. Who would’ve thought that paying for cancer would be even worse than getting it? In the end, he had passed, but the bills hadn’t, and she found herself without someone’s shoulder, but a lot to cry about.
“I told you not to marry him,” had been Mother’s words on the phone when she had called, asking if maybe and for a little while, she could stay in their house.
The time I get back on my feet, she had told Mother, find a job and can rent a little place to live. But Mother had been untouched. It was her belief that in the end consequences would catch up with you, regardless of your good intentions. But it had nothing to do with good intentions, marrying Joe. He was a kind, sweet person that deserved to be happy in the same right as others. Granted, they hadn’t met in the most conventional way—Ellie was his caseworker at a detention center outside of Robstown, where he had landed because he’d crossed the border illegally. He claimed to be seeking political asylum, but between meetings he had confessed what he was really running from, a life of misery, drug dealers, lack of food, job, opportunities, complete hopelessness. She never wrote that on her notes. To her, it was his right, to move in this world one way or another to try to find what he needed. But she knew not everyone would see it the same way.
And they didn’t. In spite of providing proof of persecution, of arguing a strong case, Joe was ordered to leave. She wasn’t willing to let that get in the way of their happiness, and she didn’t. She traveled with him back to Mexico, then to Guatemala, where they got married and applied for a spouse visa. She had to stay there with him for two years, and even if she was able to get a job as an English teacher at a local school, she still longed for the day they could go back to their home in America. The same home she didn’t have anymore.
Sitting at that beach, though, she missed it a little. The simplicity of their life right outside Ciudad de Guatemala, in spite of the complications. Waking up and feeling the warm air, the smell of fresh grass right in the front yard. The fact that they could just sit outside their little home and drink a cup of coffee, the fact that they had a home to begin with.
It was a long shot, trying to buy a house anyway. She managed to find a job again as a caseworker, this time at a local hospital, but she knew that if she really wanted to make it, she’d need to get her master’s degree. She was only two classes away from graduation when Joe was diagnosed with advanced lymphoma, and the doctors said there was nothing that could be done about it. But they wanted to try, she wanted to try. It was the only thing she could think about, mostly because she had found out that same morning that she was pregnant. They had hold off on kids, too, for a while. They wanted to wait to be back in America, for at least one of them to have a stable job, and they had succeeded on both counts. Joe had also gotten a job, if only recently, as a sous-chef at a steakhouse. Since she was almost done with school, they thought it made sense to start trying. It would take a couple of months anyway, and by the time the baby was born, her diploma would’ve been long in her hand. They were wrong about that, too.
But there were a lot of things they weren’t wrong about, like that that their love would carry them on to the end of time, of life, of breath. Until his very last moments, she sat with him, read to him, prayed with him, sang to him. He got to feel his daughter kicking right before he passed, and she knew he had passed knowing that he left a part of him to be with her forever. There was a silver lining, she kept telling herself, she just had to be patient and wait for time to work its magic.
The collectors, though, didn’t want to wait. One by one, all the things they’d worked so hard for were gone. His car, everything inside their house, and then, as it was to be expected, they came for the house itself; she couldn’t afford the mortgage anymore, and there was nowhere to go. Her car was fully paid for, and she refused to give that up as well, so she packed up her things and got in her car.
Other’s first stop was actually her last. After staying a couple of days here and there, with friends that seemed to pity her too much to turn her away but not enough to make her feel welcomed, she thought that her mom could at least give her some relief. But she was wrong. Mother had never gotten over the fact that she’d left everything behind “for some random Mexican,” all the hard work she and Father had put into her education for her to first, end up working as some caseworker, and then throw everything away for a man. And a man like him.
As the stars started splashing all over the night sky, Ellie looked back at her life with Joe. Days at a time, then months, and there were no regrets. Following her heart had been worth it and, even knowing how it would end, she’d do it all over again. This little home, that pillow and blanket waiting for her in her backseat, were maybe the price to pay for having been so happy.