MPW.70 / 2018 Being Chloe by Victor Hilitski
Victor Hilitski Chicago, Ill.
Team Chapnick

Story Summary

Lilyan Chloe Elyssa Tool, Chloe to her family and friends, is a member of the large Tool family in the small town of Mountain Grove, MO. Chloe (11) is responsible for everyday errands and supporting her siblings. Her mother Stacy Tool left the family and filed for divorce from her dad in 2010. Along with her 8 brothers and sisters, she lives in the same house where her dad was raised by his single mother Mildred (83). Four bedrooms in their house are occupied by her elder brothers and sisters, and Chloe sleeps on a couch in the living room with her little brothers. She is in the 6th grade at the Mountain Grove Middle School. She loves her school and having the chance to see her friends, work on homework with them and let go of her boundless energy.

During the day, Chloe and her siblings long for the warm love of their single dad Dallas Tool (46) who works for the Mountain Grove Water Department. Everything changes when he comes home from work to his kids. He tries to encourage his children to have self-respect and to behave responsibly. “I hope they will not repeat some of mistakes I’ve made,” he says. For 18 years, Dallas has worked hard to earn the most basic things, to get healthcare for his family and to support his kids’ education.

For Chloe, surrounded by her many brothers and sisters and taking care of her youngest half-brother Sawyer (4), is not an easy life for her. The older siblings do not provide the best example for her. Her oldest sister Michaelyn (18) dropped out in the 10th grade and her other sisters Brookelyn (15) and Haiden (13) have been on a home-school program for the last 2 years. Despite the chaotic way of life in their family, the home is filled with love. Their grandmother Mildred (83) enforces a strong religious lifestyle. She teaches bible study classes at the local church that the family attends.

Chloe has no bedroom for herself or even her own desk, but she still found a way to create a birthday poster for her beloved dad’s 46th birthday. She has the potential to be the one Tool who will make it to high school graduation, but after spending long days taking care of her younger brothers, their kitten and their dogs, she often falls asleep exhausted in the light of the flickering television set.