The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop

Dream House

by Andruly Alpala


When I was a girl, I lived in my dream house on a mountainside in Colombia. My father helped to build the house before I was born. He died when I was nine months old. The house belonged to my grandma.

Living in the mountains meant not having electricity or other fancy stuff. We woke up early, and went to bed early too.

This morning, I’m half-awake. I smell firewood and fresh coffee. I see the sun shining through the cracks in the door. As always, my aunt and my mom are already up and ready for the day.

And today is very important—because I’m starting my first job! With my aunt! I’m going to work at her daycare. This makes me happy because I plan to buy blue jeans and a yellow bathing suit with my first payment.

But my first day isn’t starting too well—I hear my aunt say that she will leave in ten minutes.

I run to the bathroom to take my extra-cold morning shower. It’s difficult to jump in, but the fresh cold water gives me energy. After my cup of coffee with two cheese
empanadas made by my mother, I say loudly, “I’m ready! Let’s go!”

My aunt is waiting for me.

I cannot leave without the bag my aunt made for me, because it holds all my stuff. In my mind, I’m preparing for my job as a teacher, eager to finish everything on time so I can play with the kids. But my aunt has other plans. I’m only fourteen, and she wants me to help with cooking. On my first day, she tasks me with chopping onions; I don’t like chopping onions because they make me cry. But I want to show my aunt that I can do it, so I tell her, “Don’t worry, I can handle it.” She just laughs and says, “We’ll see.”

We start to walk down the mountain to the road—this takes around 45 minutes. But when we’re together, we walk slower. It’s our special time to talk about everything. My aunt tells jokes and gives me advice. She warns me not to have a boyfriend because I’m still young. She says I should focus on studying. She shares her own not-so-great experiences in love to emphasize her point. Yet, despite her warnings, she eagerly shares all the exciting moments she’s lived through. I wish I could record all these moments and conversations with her.

Today, while we’re walking, I see something green move suddenly. It’s a snake! I scream because I’m scared of animals, even though I live in the mountains. I run away as fast as I can. I hear my aunt saying, “It’s okay, the snake is not following you!” But I can’t stop running. I’ve never gone down the mountain so quickly. Finally, I arrive at the road.

Now, I’m waiting for my aunt.

When she arrives, she laughs, and I laugh. On this first day, I will not be late for work.