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It was a mess in our neighborhood just as our house was. When you walked in, you could feel the hot humid air on your skin, but with enough time you grew accustomed to it. There was no room to sit in the living room nor in the dining room. Clothes was always thrown everywhere along with trash, shoes, and dishes. Walking into the kitchen made your nose crinkle. The pile of dishes so high, you wouldn't imagine washing them. The only 2 rooms in my house were full of family. In one room, we had our grandma, aunt and her two daughters, her husband and our uncle. The rooms aren’t very big, so you can just imagine how tight it was in there. My mom and dad had their own room, which was just as messy as a garbage dump. Leaving my 4 brothers and I to sleep wherever we could in the house.
My brothers pushed the trash on the living room floor to one corner to make room to spread their blanket out, like they did every night. They had their pajamas on which in this case is their everyday clothes, raggedy and dirty but still clean to them. I helped them with the thick blanket and helped them get tucked in.
“Thank you Mari.” They said in unison. I then fixed myself on the old couch next to the boys. I looked down at them, I felt myself start to choke up a sob. It broke my heart to see my little brothers like this but we always managed to stay happy. Our parents didn’t make much money and it was hard to save money with all of us living under one roof.
It wasn’t time for them to go to sleep yet so I turned on the TV and clicked through the channels waiting for one of them to tell me to stop. We ended up on the disney xd channel watching “Gravity Falls”. One by one they started to fall asleep.
I stayed up watching the show. I didn’t have much interest in it but it did make me laugh and it was also pretty mysterious. I wondered if all my family was asleep. Of course my dad wasn’t, he was always out late drinking. I then heard the doorknob rattle. I looked at the door as it opened, my dad walk in. I could smell the stench of alcohol on him from afar.
“Hola papi.” I greeted him with a troubled smile.
“Hola mija.” He responded. He looked down at the living room floor and made a face of dislike of how his kids were scattered all over the floor. He stumbled around them, almost falling. He made it to his room. Walking in, I could hear my mom from the living room asking him in almost a yell, where was he and what was he doing. I couldn’t hear my dad's responses but it did not go well.
Later that night, I was woken up by Javier, the youngest of all of us.
“Mari? It huuuuuuurts,” he said while pointing to his body..
I pushed my hair aside to see what he was pointing at. He was pointing to his stomach. It wasn’t the first time this has happened to him. Every one of us has been feverishly sick because of the house. He was still very small, his body not used to the way we lived. We didn’t eat home cooked meals very often. We were always eating from fast foods because “it’s cheaper that way to feed all of us,” as to what I was always told by my family.
I sat up, putting Javier inbetween my legs. I gave him a tight squeeze as I stood up and set his fragile body on the couch. I carefully stumbled away from the kids on the floor and headed towards the room where my grandma was. I knocked softly before opening the door. Before even walking through the door, I saw someone turn on their flashlight. It was grandma.
“Hola gradma. Perdon, pero Javier tiene un dolor muy feo.” I said in a quiet voice.
“Esta bien mija. El está muy malo?” She asked.
“No se, creo que si pero no quiero despertar a mis padres,” I said.
“Dale pepto y si no se siente bien o si vomita algo rojo desperta tu mami y tu pa.” She responded. With a nod I backed up and tried closing the door slowly and quietly, but it still managed to make a long loud groan. I headed over to the kitchen, plugging my nose; although, the smell still managed to sneak it’s way up my nose, making my nose crinkle and my stomach queasy. I looked for the pepto in the fridge, only finding moldy food. “Gross!” I said. I thought to myself, we really need to clean this house, I would do it all myself but I won’t get very far without any help. I closed the fridge and looked in the cabinet we stuff everything in. Pushing everything around, I found it in the back. As I grabbed it, my fingers felt the gooeyness of the medicine around the bottle. EW!, I cried in my head. I took it to the living room with it’s little measuring cup.
I found Javier curled up on the couch. I walked over towards him, putting my hand on his forehead. “Hey Javi,” I said as he looked at me. “Tomate esto y si no te sientes bien le decimos a mommy y daddy, okay?”
“Okay.” He said as he sat up to drink the medicine. I told him to go lay back down and if anything else were to happen to come wake me up. I laid back down on the couch, finding myself not being able to fall back asleep.
With what seemed like hours, I heard Javi throw up and start coughing. I quickly got up and headed over to the side he was sleeping on. As I looked at him I saw the agony in his face, making me act quickly, heading straight for my parents room. I stopped right in front of their door, hearing my own heartbeat beat faster and faster. Just open the door, just. Open. The. Door. I thought to myself. I placed my hand on the doorknob, twisting it to the left. I pushed it open. They were both sleeping back to back, going back to their argument not ending well. I turned on the light knowing they’ll both get mad but Javier was almost dying. My dad was the one to wake up first. He sat up and looked at me with squinted eyes., the light hitting his eyes
“Que chingados quieres Mari?” my dad asked me angrily.
“Javier… e.. esta malo. Vomito sangre..? Y está tosiendo muy feo.” I answered. He looked at me with a blank face. “No vas a hacer nada?” I asked.
“Mari qué quieres que hagamos?! No tenemos tanto dinero para ir al hospital, tú sabes eso.” He responded quickly and still with anger. I looked at him with hatred because I knew he was right. We couldn’t do much for him but care for him at home the best we could. I stormed out with tears in my eyes, feeling the warmth of the tears as they have fallen.
In the living room, I picked up Javier and took him to the bathroom and set him in the tub. I turned on the cold and hot water to make the water warm. He looked at me with his messy hair and gave me an apologetic smile. I undressed him in the tub not minding his wet clothes. While he was in the bathtub, I went to go clean up his vomit. After getting that cleaned up and looking better, I went back to the bathroom to get him out. We looked for his clothes. Looking everywhere, we weren’t able to find anything. So I let him borrow my underwear and oversized t-shirt that fit him like a dress. We then fixed ourselves on the old raggedy couch as best we could. He fell asleep very quickly, whereas I laid awake all night.
I will never forget that night for that was the night that has motivated me to do better for my brothers and I.