Grey Cloud, Silver Lining

Adrian Grey drove through the streets of residential Chicago.  He felt confusion, pain, and even a little anger.  Turning into a neighborhood, Adrian saw rows of small houses with grass and trees in their front yards.  Just taking a glance, one might think that it was a quaint little neighborhood, but upon closer look, the peeling paint and the general untidiness of the yards became apparent.  Some of the fences weren’t completely upright, and the pavement showed signs of disrepair. He drove down this particular neighborhood until he got to his destination.  Standing in front of him was a small, two-story house.  It was painted light blue; the same light blue that it had been as long as Adrian could remember.  In front of the house there was a small patch of grass and a cracked path that led to an old white door.  The house looked worn and beaten, and the lawn was unkempt and obviously neglected.  Adrian sighed as he saw it, thinking of all the memories he had there.  Shaking his head, he got out of his car and strode to the front door.  As he walked, Adrian pulled his coat tightly around him; it was a cold day in Chicago, and dark clouds overhead blocked out much of the sunlight.  A middle-aged man opened the door, his tired brown eyes looking at Adrian with surprise.  Obviously, Peter Grey hadn’t been expecting him to stop by.

“Adrian!  I didn’t know you were coming.”

Adrian cut to the chase.  Whether he had expected him or not, his dad had to have known why he was here. “Dad, what’s going on?”

“I said in the phone message—.”

“I know what you said in the message.  What’s going on?”

Peter stared at him for a moment, biting his lip. “Alright, alright son.  Why don’t you come on in and I’ll tell you everything.”

Adrian impatiently walked through the door into the living room.  After looking around the room, he asked, “Where’s Mom?”

Peter settled heavily in an armchair near the couch. “She had some grocery shopping she had to do.  Alright, what do you want to know, Adrian?”

Adrian ran his hand through his hair and demanded, “Why do I have a voicemail from you saying that our home was going through foreclosure?”

“I told you, the company lost its latest contract. They don’t need as many construction workers.  I’m one of the workers that was let go.”

Adrian broke in. “But you’ve been with them for so long!”

Peter nodded.  He seemed to sink into himself, and he looked even more worn than he had when he opened the door. “So, I’ve tried looking for a job, and your mom has tried looking for work, but in this economy we haven’t found anything yet.  I couldn’t meet the last few payments, and the bank decided to foreclose us.  We lost the house.”

Adrian felt irrational exasperation and anger when he heard this. “Why didn’t you let me know what was going on?  I could’ve helped!  I could’ve taken care of some of the payments until you got on your feet again!  I mean, what happened to your savings?”

“Adrian, I’ve never asked my son to support me financially, and I wasn’t about to start now.  We’ve always been able to get by.”

Adrian practically exploded. “But Dad, it’s the house!  My entire pre-college life was lived here!  This was my childhood!  How could you do this to me?”

Now it was Peter’s turn to shout. “How could I do this to you?  Adrian, I did it for you!  If we hadn’t depleted our savings, and pulled out a second mortgage, and done all those things, do you think you could have gone to college?  Or gone into journalism?  Or, for that matter, would you have been able to put a roof over your head?  The entire reason that you have your life is the money we put into you, which could’ve easily been redirected to the house!  We decided to endure the possibility of losing our house so that you would never have to be in that situation.”

“You could’ve asked for my help, still!  There was no reason that you couldn’t.  You’ve always been too proud for your own good.”

“You know well enough that it wasn’t pride that held me back, Adrian.  Despite your career success, you have nowhere near the resources to support both you and your parents.  You would’ve gone bankrupt trying, but it wouldn’t have worked.  You know that.  So why don’t you tell me why you’re really upset?”

The fire had gone out of Adrian.  He sat down on the couch and once again ran his hand through his hair. “I don’t know, Dad…  Everything’s moving too fast.  I feel like it wasn’t that long ago that I’d come back home from soccer practice in high school.  Then all of a sudden, I’m moving out and going to college.  And then, Bam!  I’m a working, taxpaying citizen… but all the while I knew that if I needed to reset and just be a kid for a while, I could always come back home.  Even it was just for a couple hours, it’d help.  But now…”

Peter patted Adrian’s shoulder. “Son, we all have to grow.  We have to let go of that and keep living life.  It’s hard, I know, but trust me when I say it’s worth it.”

Adrian mumbled, “I just wish it didn’t have to go so fast.”  There was a silence as both men sat in their thoughts.  Sighing, Adrian said, “I have to get going, Dad.”

“You’re not going to wait to say hi to your mom?”

“I can’t; I have a meeting with my editor.”  As Adrian got up, he said, “What are you going to do when the bank turns you out?”

“Oh, we’ll figure something out.”

Adrian nodded, subdued.  As he walked toward the door, Peter called out. “Adrian.” Adrian turned to look at his dad.  He seemed older and more tired than Adrian had ever seen him.  “Actually, can we stay at your place until one of us finds a job?  It would save us a hell of a lot of money and stress.”

Adrian gave him a small smile. “Of course, Dad.  Stay as long as you need.”


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