Today’s excerpt is from the fictional tale: Financing Your Life—The Story of Four Families Taking Their Financial Lives Out of the Red and Into the Black. In this excerpt, we see the very beginnings of the meltdown for a seemingly successful family.
Kurt and Marcie
Two Young Children, a Dog, and Debt
“Look Daddy, an elephant!” Susie pointed her pudgy finger at the giant, gray elephant hanging out by the water trough and spraying his friends through his trunk.
Kurt stroked her silky curls and smiled, taking a mental picture of this day—the sun hitting her wispy blond highlights, her cherubic face pink from heat and excitement. “That’s right, baby. Like in your picture books.”
“It’s a giant elephant, Daddy! Giant!” Her hands gripped the railing around the elephant area and she bounced, her chubby legs unable to remain still near such an exciting sight.
Where is Marcie with the food? he wondered, as his stomach growled. He looked at his watch and noted that his wife had been gone for twenty minutes. Even with lines that was much longer than she should’ve been gone. He placed his hand on Susie’s head and turned to look around the park. In the distance, he could see Marcie pushing Ike in his stroller, her long blond hair glinting in the sun, just like her daughter’s. Kurt could see no cups, plates or boxes in her hands, and she seemed to be pushing the stroller harder than normal.
When she finally reached Kurt, he could see the cross expression on her face. She moved her face in close to his, and said in a hushed, angry whisper, “The card was denied!”
“Which one?” Kurt’s eyes moved to his wife’s Louis Vuitton bag, as if that held an answer to his question.
“All of them! Every single one of them! Including the bankcard. I was so embarrassed.”
“Mommy!” Susie had finally noticed her mother’s presence. “Did you see the giant?”
Marcie nodded at Susie, barely paying attention to the excited toddler. “Yes, honey, I see it. Kurt—what are we going to do? Do you have any cash on you?”
Ike began to cry. Not only was it past his normal naptime but lunch had yet to be served—even after his parents made binding promises of the upcoming french fries and chicken nuggets.
Normally, Susie had a knack for ignoring her brother’s discomfort, even when she was the cause. But not today. She looked away from the elephant and toward her brother, whose red, tear-streaked face was the very mask of childhood pain, and said, “Mommy, I’m hungry.”
“Kurt? Did you hear me? Do you have any cash?”
“I don’t know. Let me check.” He pulled out the Ferragamo wallet Marcie had bought him last month for his birthday and opened it, only to find two one-dollar bills and a receipt from the new iPad case with keyboard that he’d bought the other day.
He shook his head at Marcie. Susie, finally catching on that lunch was not imminent, began wailing, “I’m huuuunnnnnggrrryyy!” a cry that was followed by sobs even louder than her brother’s.
Kurt and Marcie shared a look heavy with stress and tinged with fear. They hustled their hungry, tired, wailing children out of the zoo and into the parking lot. It was easy to find their Mercedes Class G even in the crowded lot. The ride home was miserable, with both kids crying the whole time, despite SpongeBob and The Wiggles, respectively, playing in each of their personal portable DVD players.
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