Three months into retirement, Francisco decided to cash out his pension and hit the road. Since he was a boy, he’d liked the idea of getting lost in the world. He yearned for a simple life; one where he could go and do whatever he wanted –camp under the stars, live off the land, hike up mountains and slide down cliffs. He didn’t see it as running away, as his wife and son did. It more like a stroll towards freedom.
Francisco had lived his best years as a factory man. For over 40 years, he moved up the ranks, made sure to keep food on the table, and shelved all his frivolous ambitions. He couldn’t regret any of it. Not when those choices had given him a beautiful son, Joseph -a children’s book illustrator-, his two adorable grandkids, Max and Sadie, and a lovely wife, Maria. In the end, they understood why he had to leave; these were the last good years of his life. Francisco owed it to his 20-year-old self to leave nothing behind. Nothing but the love he had for his family.
When Francisco bought the Polaroid camera, the first pictures he took were of his family. Max and Sadie playing tag in the backyard. Joseph drawing a character on a napkin in a moment of inspiration. Maria’s reflection smiling at him from her vanity. These pictures he tucked way for his journey. The last picture he took on the day he cashed out his pension was for his family. Maria shook her head and laughed as she took the picture, “Don’t spend it all in one place, honey.” She didn’t know the plan yet.
The plan was simple -buy a Winnebago, pack as little as possible, ride out at dawn, and never look back.
The cancer had other plans.
Story by Rachel Rondon
Hey Maria! Can you believe it? It’s like I effin’ won the lotto or something. Ten thousand big ones!
Hold still! I can’t get the shot! Spread ’em out. That’s better. Oh darlin’… I knew one day we’d make it. Mwuhhhh!
A huge weight was lifted off Bruno. A glow shone from within him. It warmed him up from the inside and radiated. Just radiated. The feeling was like the time he walked out of school at age fifteen and a half, gave the finger and knew he was never going back. Leaving those asshole teachers behind that had tagged him as trouble with a capital T from the start and that bullshit homework which he never did anyway… but this was a thousand times better. It was like God himself had parted the clouds, pointed at Bruno and said, “You, my son, are a legend,” shook his hand and then fluffed the clouds back together.
We can take that holiday to Acapulco. I can get my hair done every week. Maybe a boob job… What do you think about a boob job, darling? You always said you liked just over a handful. Come and get it, baaaaaaaby! She said, shaking her chest.
Maria squeezed them up to where they once were, and then some more, before the three kids had drained them. Drained her. She loved them and all. They were her everything but she wished she had it all back. You know, like in the good ol’ days. That’s when things were best between them. No kids, no money but lots of love and lovin’ on that sofa.
God, Bruno loved that woman. He knew it when he first saw her in that parking lot on the hottest day of Summer and he damn well knows it now. She was skipping school and chewing gum and wearing that short red skirt. She was beautiful. She’d stuck by him and ain’t nobody ever done that before. Never. He owed her the world. And he’d do his best to give it to her.
Oh, and time for a new sofa…
Story by Venita Poblocki