I never wanted to grow up. And when I left my son in the doorsteps of an orphanage, that feeling returned. It is never an easy thing to lie to a child, especially if you will never see them again. The boy thought I was going to buy bread and meat so we could eat for the day, but no one has enough money to buy that anymore. And that was when I left my four-year-old son forever, without a good bye.
Walking back home was one of the longest walks of my life. Longer than when I faced the Huns during the Great War in Belleau. At least when I did that, I knew someone could shoot me and I would face my sins of killing my enemies. Here, in the big city, with nothing anymore not even honor, I could no longer face my sin. Men sat on the curb and counted the hours gone by. Everyone hoped this depression lifted itself of our backs. It burdened everyone. Mothers, sons, fathers and daughters, rich and poor everyone suffered from burden that plagued us.
Those who did see me with my son now look at my lone return. I do not know what they possibly think of me, but every insult that emerges from their head is warranted, I deserve it. Could I be struck by lightning, for then grief would not be the last thing that struck me. My stomach grumbled as I passed the dozen of closed businesses, the men who worked there sat in front of them hoping for them to open up and them to provide income for their families. I see Eric Klein on the bridge.
He and I were old war buddies. He did very well after the war, married a beautiful gal, opened up a successful insurance business, but those were happier times before the crash.
“What are you doing Eric?” I asked.
“Just thinking. Just thinking of how life was a few months ago. Thinking how life was during the war. Even when it was that dark, we still didn’t have to worry about this.” He said.
“Those were better days my friend. We couldn’t have know this was going to happen.”
“I know, but it’s all gone, my wife, my business, my money and my house, all gone. Like a blink of an eye, we lost everything.”
“What happen to your wife?”
“It hit her the most, but she didn’t do anything too stupid, she went with her sister’s in California. Now it’s just me.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” I put my hand on his shoulder while saying this.
The bridge was deep, and many have jumped off it since the crash, mostly women and bankers. I will not deny that it has not crossed my mind to jump off. Right now, the feeling return to jump.
Eric returned to staring at the water below, and I left him be. I could not stop him from thinking of jumping anymore than I could stop the sun from rising. Before returning on my way to my home, an idea bestowed me. West, my wife and I should go west. There’s always something west that needs picking, mining or building. I heard about people from Oklahoma heading west, now I should join them and find something for myself as well.
The rundown house I owned stood near the edge of town. The neighborhood was leaving, very few people stayed and not even the banks could take back the houses. I had to leave here.
My wife was waiting for me when I opened the door. We did what we had to in this harsh time. Our stomach rumbled as we sat down on the two remaining chairs we had in the bare kitchen. If we could feed on sorrow, we would be fat with our sorrow.
“I had an idea.” I said.
“What is it?” She replied.
“Let’s move west.”
“What?” She was surprised.
“We have no hope here, we should move somewhere we could make ourselves better. Why waste ourselves here? We could do so much more.”
She said nothing and stared at the distance.
“We left our little boy because we couldn’t always eat. Do you really think he could make it with the orphanage?” She asked.
“Yes, I do.”
“Then lets go.”
We stood up and began looking for something to pack our belongings. We didn’t have anything here anymore. But to be honest, I didn’t really want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to make a decision, I don’t know what to do now. I wish I were still a kid. Maybe Eric jumped, maybe he didn’t hurt himself, and maybe my son already entered the orphanage. I had no food in my stomach, but hopefully, as long as he was fine, I would be all right. I would not forgive myself for what I did, what my wife and me have done, but we agreed, we agreed that the life of child is more important than an old soldier and a troubled nurse.
Packing my clothes, rifle and some food, I was ready. My wife was ready. If we could see ourselves now, we could see that we might not have that much hope, but hope is something we need, and therefor follow. Our dreams are broken, our child is gone, and our country is in disarray. We need to move and if we die, then so be it, for it will be the price we paid for letting our child go.