Molly ran down the dirt road, squealing with delight. She felt as though if she went any faster her body would break gravity’s hold and she’d be able to soar off into the sky. She jumped and spread her arms wide imagining it, before landing knees bent and then springing forward again.
Look at me daddy, I’m flying!
Her father came walking behind, heavy backpack weighing him to earth as they slowly climbed the mountain. Their previous camp spot downtown under the bridge had been a hell of a lot more convenient, but the police had a habit of waking people they caught camping with a kick to the head and if one of those bastards hurt Molly, things would get very intense very fast. He wasn’t going to let that happen. So instead, it was up into the hills. Less accessible, more places to camp, no cops, and clean fresh air.
Up ahead, Molly was perched on top of a boulder, looking out at the city below. She had no concept of homelessness or unemployment and if her father had his way she never would. And while she still cried sometimes at night because she missed her mother, this last summer had been one gigantic adventure and she was thrilled to have her daddy spending so much time with her.
Tom found himself walking the path, lost in thought. When his wife had been diagnosed with cancer he thought his world was ending and things couldn’t get worse, at least until their health insurance refused to pay for her treatment and they’d had to take out a second mortgage to cover the bills. He quickly used up all his time off and sick leave driving her to doctors appointments. His work suffered, but even so, the layoff had taken him by surprise. Unable to afford the treatment and with his credit cards maxed out, he’d taken Jeanine home; hardly leaving her side for those last weeks. Molly didn’t understand what was going on and cried constantly, they all did. A month after Jeanine died, he and Molly had moved in with a friend and put the house up for sale while he continued to look for work. But the work hadn’t come and there’s a limit to the generosity of even a good friend.
Look at the city daddy! It’s beautiful!
It’s hard to stay depressed around a five year old, especially one as precocious as Molly. Tom pulled himself together and bent down to look along her outstretched arm at the city below.
Well, I promised you a place with a view didn’t I? Only the best for my little girl.
He hugged her like he’d never let her go, his whole world wrapped up tight in his arms. They watched the sun set over the trees.