A column on the left hand side of the screen listed our assets and debts. Two accounts were listed as assets: our bank account, labeled with our names and another account called "Future Family Fun." The first account was accompanied by a pitifully small balance, while the Future Family Fun account had a balance of zero.
I looked further down the column at our list of debts. The mortgage and the two car payments were listed first. Shouldn't their balances have gone down further than that already? Studying the numbers, I tried to remember what their balances had started out as. Finally, I shook my head and moved on to the next item--the credit card. We still hovered pretty close to the maximum on that one. Jaleen's been after me to help find a way for us to pay more than the minimum amount due. I figured it wasn't that important, as long as we were paying something.
Rubbing my eyes, I tackled the last category: Education Loans. I knew about the $6000; that loan was for my highly sought after degree in radio broadcasting--something that years later could barely even be called one of my hobbies. But three other loans were listed amounting to nearly $11,000. Several times I had gotten the notion in my head that I wanted to be a teacher, yet that couldn't explain these loans, could it? No, there's no way those few semesters did this.
I rose from the chair and opened the file cabinet near the computer table. For once I was grateful for Jaleen's uncontrollable need to organize everything; I quickly found the file for the student loans and pulled it out. The evidence against me was undeniable.
After I replaced the file and shut down the computer, I crawled back into bed. Tears trickled down my cheeks as I thought about what I had done. This tiny house, our inability to pay down the mortgage far enough to be able to sell it and move, was my fault. When my guilt had nearly overwhelmed me, I woke Jaleen and told her what I had discovered.
Her eyes were still droopy with sleep, but she touched my face with the back of her hand and smiled. "Brendan, we made all of those decisions together. Granted, they weren't the best choices we could have made, but they're over. We can't go back and change them; we'll just have to deal with them." Jaleen held my gaze with her own. "Stop worrying about fault--that doesn't matter."
"Okay." I said. "Tomorrow we start climbing out of this mess."
(to be continued...)