Empty Houses II (Poverty)

pile of woeThe vines have crawled up through the windows, over the pile of belongings moldering in the weeds. The couch that stood on the porch, the piles of princess clothes, the dirty diapers, the cardboard boxes, the giant TV set.

They never came to pick up their stuff.

I hope that’s not a burn pile.

The house is totally fucked. Like, really, really fucked. It’s ugly as sin. You’d have to tear half of it down to save it.

The previous occupants left because Child Protective Services threatened to take their two kids away. Why? They had no hot water. They tried to fix the heater. They failed. The landlord dithered. Fuck that guy. The kids didn’t want to bathe in cold water. The boy smelled. The gym teacher noticed.

The kids were good kids. You might have enjoyed meeting them at a playground, in the right moment. They waited at the bus stop with mine.

The girl often had a tangle in her hair. She didn’t talk much, but she was sweet. The older boy was sharp and very likable. The zippers were broken on their coats. They were always hungry, like most of the kids around here, like most kids everywhere. They didn’t just beg for cookies or stealth sweets like granola bars, though. One time they came over, they ate half a dozen bananas in less than half an hour. But they were good guests, good souls.

They lived with their father and his gal. They both worked as much as they could. He found out about the house from its owner, who had been in jail at the same time. The kids’ father was in for debt; he couldn’t pay his child support on his minimum wage, not-quite-full-time job. The landlord was in for stabbing someone. He apparently has a beef with most everyone in that corner of town. Fuck that guy.

The kids’ father found out about the house and moved in because they hated the scene at the rough trailer park where they lived before. It was too shady, too dangerous, he told me. He was missing a slew of teeth.

Our kids played together all the time. Then one day, after the incident with the water heater and the school, they moved to a relative’s house, in a tiny little town west of here. My eldest cried. 

These are the people we are told to hate.

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