(Here's something I wrote for this week's 3 Word Wednesday. The words were: money, tangled understood)
It was somewhere around hour fifty-seven of his work week when he happened across a forgotten memory buried in the back of a desk drawer. It was a snapshot of her on a trip they took to King's Island when they were still dating. Immediately, the memories came pouring, filling up his mind.
Money was tight then. Rolling change to help make the rent. Buying a dollar and fifty cents of gas. So they had made the trip in one day to save the cost of a hotel. Leaving before sunrise, he spent much of the day in line for the rides leaning on her shoulder with his eyes closed. They bought a disposable camera for five dollars and got a man who looked like Dick Van Dyke to take their picture in front of the fake Eiffel Tower.
The hardest rain he had ever seen began to fall late in the afternoon and they ran laughing and splashing for cover. That is when he had snapped her picture, her hair soaking wet and her face just beginning to turn away from the camera when she realized what he was doing. She made him promise at least seven times he would throw the picture away.
Coming back to the present, he found himself smiling. One of those big goofy smiles that you hope no one has seen. He also realized they had not taken a trip in... he couldn't remember when. It had been several years. Years of sixty hour weeks. Years of too much working late and not nearly enough leaving early. They had plenty of things and money now. But staring at the picture again, he found himself longing for who they were then, when money was what they wanted and love was what they had.
All at once, in that office on the 5th floor at 6:18 PM on a Friday, his tangled mind was clear. The work he had been stressing to get done and that had seemed so important a few minutes earlier could wait. There were more urgent things to tend to. There always had been, he just needed to be reminded. Grabbing his coat, he carefully placed the photograph in the inside pocket, and started home.
She would be confused at first, no doubt, when he told her to pack an overnight bag because they were taking a trip. When they crossed the Ohio, she might have some idea. And when he finally showed her the photograph he had promised to throw away, he hoped she understood.
"Remember digging through your old purses in hopes we'd get enough change for an RC Cola or a pack of cigarettes..."