Flagstaff, AZ —

“Daddy’s just leaving for a pack of smokes. I’ll be back soon,” Steve Jensen tells his four young children as he kisses their foreheads and tucks them into their bunk beds. He puts on his jacket, slings a duffel bag across his shoulders, and walks out the front door of the family’s tiny, two-bedroom mobile home.

He was never coming back. He had reached his breaking point. His marriage was toxic and unsalvageable; his kids were all little brats who whined incessantly about watching Paw Patrol, and he’d been stuck in a dead-end job for as long as he could remember.

“This is the fresh start I need. I never wanted any of this. Finally, I’ll have the freedom to do what I want with my life without the burden of my family bringing me down,” Steve reassured himself as he left his old life behind him.

As Steve was walking towards the bus station, he went to light a cigarette. He fished around his duffel bag for his Zippo but couldn’t find it. Then frantically, he felt for the lighter in his pants pocket. Nope, not in there either. Steve checked his jacket pockets and screamed, “Goddammit!” He’d been planning his escape for months, and he forgot his lighter. He immediately remembered he left it on the kitchen counter. “Fuck, I need a cigarette so bad. I have to go back for it. It’s that Zippo my Dad gave me before he died last year. Man, I loved that guy. Such a great role model.”

Steve sneaked quietly back into the house, so as to not wake anyone. “I’ll just grab the lighter real quick and leave,” he thought to himself. “In and out.” At that exact moment, he tripped over a talking Chase toy and crashed into the kitchen table, knocking over the vase of flowers sitting in the middle, glass shattering everywhere.

“Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” Steve Jensen’s four kids chanted excitedly as they ran out of their bedrooms.

“Fuck!” Steve whispers to himself. “Oh…hey guys!”

His wife Amber looks up from her phone and mouths “go fuck yourself” to Steve.

“Daddy, since we’re up, can we watch an episode of Paw Patrol?” asked his three-year-old.

“Sure, why not?” Steve said with a heavy sigh of defeat.

Meanwhile, on an undisclosed tropical island, Steve’s dad is living out an incognito life with his new 23-year-old girlfriend that he ditched his wife for.

By Catricia