"Slave of Debts" by Roman Catholic, December 2012

Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.

AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.

AN2: None.

Summary: Golf, sailing, skiing, horseback riding, deep-sea diving, etc., all require significant monetary commitment. Also … spending time with your child is more important than spending money on them.

Slave of Debts

As they were walking through the aquarium, Angel Monroe and Serena Hacking noticed a group of children that seemed dazed by the shark, gluing their faces against the thick glass wall as the unfortunate creature swayed from time to time, showing off to visitors.

"Look Serena …" Angel gave her a worried stare with a twist of mockery as her lip inadvertently curled a bit. "Face it! Your health is your life. Without it …", some child screamed, faking being cared from the advancing sea predator, "… all the success and affluence in the world is … meaningless." They continued further down the tunnel, leaving happy children behind. "Committing yourself to a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to maintain the health of your body and mind."

"I'll agree with you on the last one." Serena nodded.

"Also …" They approached some tiny blue fish that glowed in semi-darkened fish tank. "Use your money wisely to fix and maintain your belongings."

"Now, that's also true …" Serena nodded again, feeling a bit stupid as if in school.

"If really, really don't know where to spend your money …" Angela looked at Serena and grinned in some leery way. "There are few options for spending money on something more practical than the development and facility of your brain."

"All right." Serena giggled as she noticed a bump-nosed fish. "Some example perhaps?" She scooped to see some sea snails on the bottom of the tank.

"A vacation for example. It revitalizes your mind by pulling you away from the daily stress factors in your life. It can spark creative thought by stimulating your brain with … with new material." Angela noticed a guy from the primary school but he was soon lost in the crowd. She sighed and then continued. "And finally …", she turned as she heard his voice again, "… a vacation allows you to be yourself without the external influences present in your typical surroundings."

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" Serena laughed, covering mouth with her hand.

"What?" Angela's lips curled into a smile.

"You could work as a tourist consultant with such a positive attitude towards travelling."

"True …" Angela turned around on her heels, realizing that some guy was staring at her in secret.

They continued towards the cafeteria and finally sat down on the first available table.

"Oh, Gosh …"

"What?" Angela giggled.

"Face it. We are getting old …"

They watched children enter with their teachers occupying most available tables, adding to the overall clamor.

"Also … never waste money on stuff you don't use."

"Now that could be hard to do …" Serena laughed back to her.

They waited for Yvonne Rose and she finally came with the tray full of liquids and some cookies as well.

"What took you so long? …" Angela sneered at her in a jovial manner. Yvonne made a grimace and then sat down.

They noticed that most of the visitors had some kind of a paper imitation of some sea creature as part of the free gifts.

"Also … spending money on upgrading your hobbies is one of the reasons you work so hard in the first place." Yvonne lifted an eyebrow at Angela and Serena burst into laughter.

"Also …" Yvonne leaned forward and gave couple of stares around as if about to tell something in secret. "Remember …", she already started to laugh, "… there's … there is no better gift than an unexpected gift."

"True!" Serena covered mouth with both hands as she watched Angela laugh politely. She chuckled as well.

Yvonne bit into her apple and after chewing it soundly, she sighed.

"I know that fresh, healthy food is usually more expensive, but this is an expense with priceless benefits to the longevity and wellbeing of everyone's future."

"See!" Angela nodded towards Yvonne. "Now that's the attitude!" Serena smirked a bit as if offended.

They enjoyed their fresh fruit and laughed some more.

The following day Serena met with Dr. Adesh in the subway.

"Well … the word 'albinism' refers to a group of inherited conditions." Dr. Adesh had a strong Indian-Pakistani accent. "People with albinism have little or no pigment in their eyes, skin, or hair. They have inherited genes that do not make the usual amounts of a pigment called melanin."

"So it is inherited …" Serena concluded, wondering why he was talking to her as if she was a nine-year old child.

"Furthermore …", Dr. Adesh seemed eager to talk some more about the topic. "One person in 17,000 has some type of albinism."

"Really?" Serena did not fake her surprise. Some dark-skinned people wondered what they were talking about.

"Yes. Albinism affects people from all races."

"So … Caucasians can have it too?" Serena seemed amused, wondering how they would look like.

"Oh, yes. Also …" Dr. Adesh excused someone that was passing by without manners. "Most children with albinism are born to parents who have normal hair and eye color for their particular ethnic backgrounds. Often people do not recognize that they have albinism."

"My, my …" Serena nodded, pleased that she learnt something new.

That evening, at the Empress Lia's party, Serena met with Yvonne again. Next to her was Mishra Goldstein. She grinned, already in a "topsy-turvy" mode and nodded to Serena at some gut dressed in white silk.

"See …"

"What?" Serena smiled, pretending she did not see the guy.

"Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae."

"What?" Serena curled her lips into a sneer as Mishra laughed back to her.

"It is not very contagious and it has a long incubation period …" Ms. Goldstein continued to play mean even after Serena placed hands on her hips in protest.

"Now what is that?"

"It's the time before symptoms appear of course …", Mishra continued to chortle, holding onto Serena. Serena pretended she did not her, others at the party throwing some inquisitive stares at them.

"All right. What's going on?"

"Which …" Mishra continued to laugh even with her mouth full of gurgling wine. "Which makes it hard to know where or when someone caught the disease." Serena finally gave up and warned her that she'll walk away if she did not stop. "Children are more likely than adults to get the disease."

"That's it … silly …" Serena walked away, frowning and shaking her head while Mishra stayed at her place, still giggling. Someone finally approached her and asked what was it all about.

Serena spent time with the Empress and Yvonne, enjoying cool summer evening.

Then, to her surprise, as she was about to pour some punch into her glass, Mishra sneaked up to her again.

"Leprosy has two common forms … tuberculoid and lepromatous."

Serena started to get annoyed a bit and moved away slightly. Mishra followed her, looking around as if about to deliver a deadly blow or something.

"Both forms produce sores on the skin. However …", Mishra sighed, less tipsy then before, "… the lepromatous form is most severe. It causes large lumps and bumps …"

Serena stared at her with a half-opened mouth and then shook her head again in some pitiful manner.

Mishra was still staring at her in some grave manner even when Serena tried to blend in the crowd of those dancing in the living room.