The fan gently cooled down my overheating body and I stared blankly ahead. Echoes of voices sounded from the floor underneath us, reverberating gossip and news. I let the heat wash over me until my senses become dull. The fan barely kept me awake. All I wanted to do was sleep until winter came. A voice grew louder and I tried swatting it away, but it persisted. “Steven!” someone said as I started dozing off. I mumbled that I was asleep and rolled over. The voice suddenly screamed and then the room fell silent. I jolted upright and surveyed the room. The fan was still blowing. A gentle breeze rolled in through the window and my door was still closed. A bead of sweat rolled down my temple and dripped from my face. I frantically wiped my face and leaped up from my bed. I walked up and down the hall, looking for the source of the devastating scream, but the halls remained empty. I went downstairs to find the house eerily silent. Something was obviously wrong, but I didn’t know what to do. “Anyone there?” I shouted. My voice bounced off the smiling pictures and echoed back. I stepped into the kitchen. Everything was still except for the dripping faucet. My mom would always drill into our heads to close the faucets tightly so water wouldn’t be wasted. I gingerly walked towards the leaky faucet and stared at it. I extended my shaky hand to turn it only to find that it was already tightly closed. I surveyed the kitchen to see if anyone followed me, but this was my house after all. I remembered locking the door after coming back from work. By now, the sun had long gone down and my stomach angrily growled. I sighed and headed to the fridge. The light flooded the kitchen and a little boy casually walked out. I screamed and fell backwards. “Who are you and why are you in my fridge?” I frantically said as the little boy approached me. He shrugged and opened the faucet. He scrubbed down his hands and dried them off. The faucet continued dripping. He walked toward me again and I scrambled back. “Who are you and what do you want?” I demanded as I backed into a corner. He whispered, “Steven, you never turned off the faucet when you finished. Why? You wasted so much water! And that really hurt me that you never seemed to listen to one simple command.” The little boy’s face warped into my mother’s face and I yelped. I tried backing up, but I backed into the wall. My mother/the little boy continued scolding me and the pinging of the water droplets hitting the metal sink grew louder, echoing through the dark house. I closed my eyes and started screaming.
I woke up with a start. The fan was still diligently spinning around and my face was drenched in sweat. From across the room, my younger brother looked at me with a face full of concern. “Bad dream?” he inquired. I rolled over and sighed, “Yeah, I guess I should have really listen to mom.” He crawled into my bed and peered at me. “But you always did” he said innocently. I laughed and said “I did, but I never seemed to want to close the faucet tightly. There was some aesthetic that I liked about a drippy faucet for some reason.” He patted my head and within a couple minutes, he was fast asleep. I quietly got up and went down to the kitchen. The first thing I did was check if the faucet was dripping. I gave a sigh of relief when I found that it was tightly closed. I opened and closed the fridge even though I felt sick to my stomach. I pulled up a chair and put my head in my hands. Things were spinning back to me again.
When I was little and my brother was just an infant, we lived on the streets. All of us worked hard to fill our stomachs. My mom worked two jobs and even as a 7 year old, I handed out leaflets on the street corner for something I had no idea about. My little brother would cling onto my ankle and he would be the reason that I was able to give away all 200 leaflets each day because people thought my little brother was as cute as a button. After two years of living on the street, my mom married a guy she met at work and we moved into a small apartment. It was small and crammed, but it was it was better than the dirty and noisy streets. We only lived in the apartment for a couple months when my mom decided to take us away. I later found out that her newly found husband had been treating her terribly. It makes me wish I had noticed so I could have done something. My mom was so anguished that she bought a two floor house with whatever money she had. In just a couple of weeks, the house sent us back to where we started. My mom fell into depression, but managed to hide it from us. Every day, she put food on the table and I never questioned how she got it that that day.
Like normal kids, we did our chores and I was assigned with washing the dishes and my little brother was to clean up his toys. After washing, I would constantly get scolded for not closing the faucet tight enough. My mom was adamant in making sure money was being saved. This would become a reoccurring thing with my stubbornness. My mom has lost the battle with money and lost her impulsive house. We ended up being sent to many different foster homes. Before my brother and I were shuttled away, my mom grabbed my arm and quickly said “Stay with your brother. Please, my dear, take care of yourself and him.” There wasn’t enough time for me to say anything and we were quickly sent to an unfamiliar house with strange smells and looming faces. Those past couple of years were a blur as I grew up under many different parents as well as the constant worry of staying with my brother and if mother was okay. Because of this, I didn’t want my brother to ever experience what I did, so I made sure his innocence was maintained. I made sure he got the best whether it be the bigger bowl of food or the better gift during holidays. For the time when I cared for my brother, I understood why my mother hid her depression.
Now I have a stable job and my brother is in sixth grade. I recently bought an apartment, but the fear of a dripping faucet still haunts me. Even though our bellies are full and we’re sleeping comfortably, I will never forget about what it was like to live unprivileged. I will never forget my mother’s strong grip on me as she gave me one last command. I will never forget about the feeling of success when I was able to break free from the foster homes and give my brother and I a more stable life. And I will never forget the hollow sound of water droplets ringing against the metal sink.