I have a story I must tell; a story of a house with too many children, too few bathrooms and never a single room in want of a body. This tale takes place in a small town, not so very important to those unknown to it, but with oh such significance to those who love it. Before I begin I must inform you of a vital detail to our story, one that pertains to the well-being of this humble community. That is, of course, the topic of money. You see, this little town was a thriving economy not tree years prior. Houses were purchased moments after becoming obtainable, investors invested, sellers sold, and buyers thrust forth their cash. Through all this the prestigious real-estate agents had their enthralling moment of prosperity. But, of course, as you may well have guessed, this was not to last forever. Suddenly the buyers no longer wanted expensive houses on shabby lots; investors could not sell what they scrounged to purchase, and sellers could not sell what they could not afford to keep. All at once, it ended. It was hard for many; people lost their homes, lost their jobs. And so hard were they hit: those who made their living on the buying and selling of property! What's that you say? Get another job? But did you not hear me before? This is a story of a house with too many children, and not enough money! And yes, I believe you already know that those who bore the children were of the unfortunate class of real-estate agents.

Now summer came, and with it the smell of sunscreen, the drone of the cooler, and the aroma of barbeques, yet to all this, an element was added. A cloud hung over the bulging home of many children and too few bathrooms. Sadness and frustration hung in the air; anger began to permeate the once happy home. Nothing ever seemed so bleak, children sat alone, weeds took up their home where flowers once greeted friendly faces, and dark strands of hair clogged the all too rare bathroom drains. This was a very dark time.

On a day, when the small world the children of the bulging home had come to know looked so much bleaker normal, something happened. Oh, but don't let your heart race so! This is not a something you would like to hear about, for I bear ill tidings of the fate of the bulging house with too few bathrooms. Remember, that was not a happy time, and this certain occurrence was most definitely in the genre of that epoch.

To give you a piece of background, for twenty-five years the mother of this certain family had done a marvelous thing. She took care of the many children dwelling in the house, and never went out to get a job. Many said that it would have been better, even easier for her to go out and earn a living through the years to help feed such a vast amount of children, but the whole family refused. They would go without other things, but never without their mother at their side every moment of the day. So now you must be asking yourself, what was this horrible occurrence that darkened the already shrouded home? I will tell you. The mother had to leave, had to get a job. There was simply not enough money. Now the children must step up, the older take care of the younger, and the younger take care of the older. Each must do his part to ensure the survival of all.

On that desolate day a warm wind blew, the dogs refused to play and the little fish called Aaron refused to swim. The ache would not recoil and the reality of their taunting fate would not subside. On that day, in search of a room free of an inhabitant, (for this was the house without a single room in want of a body,) Daniel explored. Daniel was thirteen; he was the seventh child in the bulging house of eight children, and too few bathrooms. On this day, he searched for a vacant room with the desire to speak on the phone privately with an unnamed friend, his possible true love and future wife. While in search of this prized and endangered thing called privacy, he breached another's. The soft sound of muffled whimpers came from a corner of the attic. The topic of his hunt then shifted as he followed his ears towards the stifled cries. There sat Lila, child number four in the overcrowded home.

"Lila, what's wrong? Why are you crying?" Asked Daniel, sitting down and putting his hand on her shoulder in concern.

"It's just so sad, nothing is right anymore." Lila sniffed, wiping away a fallen tear. "There's no money, mom has to get a job, the animals are sad and the fridge is dead!" It was true; the refrigerator had died. In the midst of everything they had been deserted by an appliance they thought could be trusted. The milk was given to the neighbor, the once frozen meat was cooked and drinks were sipped at room temperature. While cleaning out the fridge, mysterious items like frozen fish whose name no one could pronounce were found, and small things such as mustard and horseradish were over prevalent.

"But Lila, how can you be so sad when we have so much? We have wonderful parents who love us and you're never alone because God is always with you, besides the fact that we live in a bulging house with no room in want of a friend. God will provide for us, and we can always eat the mysterious fish with some of the over prevalent horseradish and mustard. And when that is gone we will still have Aaron." Daniel said in an effort to encourage her, for true to his nature, even on the bleakest day his smile never faded. (Although some say his unnamed friend, possible true love and future wife, might have been the reason for that, it really was part of his character to always see the silver lining.)

"Thank you," Lila said smiling for the first time in so long, "Sometimes I just need to be reminded of that." She sniffed, "But no one is eating Aaron!"

"I'm glad you feel better," Daniel told her, he hugged her and they stood up. But something was still wrong; Daniel could see it in her face. "What's the matter Lila? Something is still bothering you."

She looked at him, her smile turning, "How can I be happy when everyone else is still so sad?"

"Everyone, including you was sad a moment ago," he reminded her with a grin, "but I was still happy. Our joy doesn't come from people; it comes from God, so why should it matter if the others are sad? Besides, if we are all sad because everyone else is then no one will ever be happy; maybe they need someone to remind them where our joy comes from."

"I think you're right," she smiled a little, then grinned a bright, cheerful, and very genuine grin, "I think you are very right, Daniel."

Through the days that followed Lila and Daniel joined forces to help the others in the bulging house feel the happiness that they had found. In the crowded kitchen with the mysterious fish meat whose name no one knew, in the crammed bathrooms while girls put on their makeup and boys combed their hair, in every room that wasn't in want of a person, (which of course was every room,) they shared a smile and helped each other remember how to laugh. Daniel pulled weeds and Lila threw away the dark strands of hair that were clogging the drains. And although nothing had really changed except for the refrigerator, the days were not so bleak and the cloud had finally passed. From that day on the family never again lost their joy, because, if one of them forgot it the others would remind him. The joy they shared was envied, and so they shared it with all. They are still to this day known as the bulging house, but no longer just because of the vast amount of children and too few bathrooms; for another element had been added.

Marisa Rae