by John Gied Calpotura (Flash Fiction)

It was the first time Jordan walked. His feet felt like noodles, but his Father was smiling. His mother was so proud, it radiated in the room.

Tears and laughter were shared as it was Jordan’s first class. His mother was proud while his father, beaming, wrapped his arms around Jordan.

Jordan got the first rank. It was his first time walking up the stage too. The class was clapping for him while his father carried him, peppering Jordan’s cheeks with kisses. His mother put the medal around his neck. “I’m proud of you,” she said.

Jordan had his first best day. Sure, he always had an awesome day, but it was the first time he realized how amazing his life was. He and his parents went to the city, bought different toys, and ate the best food they had ever tasted. They all shared the same bright smile.

The first pimple grew big on Jordan’s face when he was having lunch. His best friend laughed at how disgusting and funny it looked. He didn’t know what to do, so he went to the only place he knew where everything got answered: Google.

Jordan was paying attention to everything that day when he noticed—for the first time—how his mother frowned after smiling at him, how her lips fell down every time she thought nobody was looking.

This was the first time Jordan realized that they were broke. That they had always been broke. He couldn’t understand why his parents were still buying things for him, or he didn’t know where they were getting the money to buy them. He started to refuse to use expensive things.

Jordan was about to grab a snack in the refrigerator when he heard his mother sob. It wasn’t the happy cry she did whenever she got too happy that she would suddenly cry. Jordan didn’t know what to do, so he went and knelt beside her, hugging her, whispering, “It’s okay, you’re okay.” Even if he didn’t know why she was crying.

Jordan was so scared, for it was the first time he heard his parents fight, let alone yell at each other. He was inside his bedroom, and outside his door he heard screams, smashing of plates, and muffled words like, “I hate you!” “Don’t you pull that excuse on me!” “Stop screaming, you bitch!”  The fight didn’t last long, but Jordan was sure their screams would echo inside his head for a long time.

Jordan is furious at his parents. Mad that they have not prepared him for such a change in life. They have sugarcoated them for him: the fights, the crying, everything. He should be thankful, but he’s mad. He has learned that they have always been like this, broken and not perfect. The change is still coming. But Jordan isn’t sure how to handle it. No one does.