I was in my bedroom, but I heard my mother and father arguing. It was about money, as usual. My father was laid off shortly after the pandemic began. My mother also lost her job as a waitress when the restaurant she worked at was shuttered. They were discussing how they were going to make ends meet, which I think means having enough money to pay for what we need, like food and clothes and stuff.
Then I heard my mother say something that really upset me. She said to my father, “Maybe we should sell the house.” I have never lived anywhere but in this house. The thought of selling it and moving somewhere else shook me up.
But then my father said something that really shocked me. He told my mother that our house was underwater. I looked around, half expecting to see a rising level of water flooding my bedroom. But everything was dry. I got off my bed and walked into the kitchen. My mother was seated at the kitchen table crying and my father was standing over her trying to console her.
“Are we going to have to move!” I asked. “I don’t want to move. What can we do to stop the flooding?”
My father gave me a quizzical look. “What are you talking about, Billy?” he asked.
With both of them looking at me with what was either a look of love or pity, I said to my mother, “I heard Dad tell you that our house is underwater, but it seems dry to me.”
My mother smiled and beckoned me to come over to her. She lifted me up and placed me on her lap. Then my father said, “Billy, underwater is just a figure of speech. It means that we owe more money to the bank than what our house is worth, so if we tried to sell it, we’d have to give the bank more than we’d get from selling the house. So don’t worry, son, we’re not going to sell the house or move.”
“That’s good,” I said. “And don’t worry about me, Mom and Dad. I don’t need any presents for my birthday or for Christmas. I’ve got everything I want and need just being here in this house with the two of you.”
Written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt, where we are asked to compose a tail that involves “underwater.”