Chapter 1:

Bye-bye, Hometown

The Crescent Ruby

"And... set!" Sezar exclaimed, sweeping all the sweat beneath his beanie. 

Thanks to his uncontested Tetris skills, he had successfully placed most of the bags in the back of the van. It was a spacious vehicle for six people so all the essentials fit perfectly well, yet a nameless worry itched at the back of his mind; the fact that if one thing were to come off, the entire Tetris masterpiece would collapse under the sheer pressure he had used to make it fit.

"Is it ready, husband?" Izella asked from inside the house.

"Yea! Bring the kids!"

"Good morning," yelled a man from the house next door.

"Mr. Benitez, good morning," Sezar replied, "Early waking?"

People used to come out at dark, right before dawn, for a collective exercise routine, Sezar never participated, always working late hours to bring enough money for the bills, but one thing he knew was that Mr. Benitez did not join the energetic youth at all despite sleeping more than 24 hours a day.

"Same could be said about you, young Rubicon," the man said, "leaving for a trip...?"  

His lips closed as he followed Sezar with his eyes toward the house's door, noticing the 'FOR RENT' by the front window, "Oh..."

"Yeah..." Sezar uttered as he lifted the car's hood.

"Pricing too high?"

Sezar locked eyes with him, and Mr. Benitez gave an understanding nod to mind his own business.

"Where will you go?"

"Not far, I hope."

"Got any plan setup?"

"All we know is we can't stay here anymore, Mr. Benitez."

The old man tapped Sezar's shoulder, and the young lad felt the man really feel for him, "I'm sorry to hear that, son, I'm sure this is the best outcome."

"Thank you, Mr. Benitez."

The man returned to his solitary cave, probably to continue his long, daily slumbers until death took him.

The best outcome, Sezar thought, shaking his head, yeah sure. 

His hands pressed on the car, something wanted to come out of him...

"Papa!" yelled a voice behind him, "is everything ready, papa?"

That something would have to wait for another time, maybe.

Sezar turned with a smile, "Hey, boyo!" he said as he opened his arms and greeted the little four-year-old that ran past the door and towards him, "Papa was just checking a few things before leaving."

"Ah, ok," said Kaleb as he stared at the engine, trying to check it just as Daddy would.

"Everything okay, love?" said another voice, a green-eyed woman with long locks of brown hair, and skin as white as snow carrying a one-year-old girl just as beautiful. They were his Queen and princess, Izella and Eliana. Such a vision made Sezar wonder how did she end with him, but he was grateful.

Sezar did not know it when they met, but he was designed to love her by all means and ways more than he felt she was meant for him. No matter the circumstance, he always needed a moment to appreciate her, so he gritted his teeth behind a smile, "Yes, love, just checking the engine."

They locked eyes for a moment. For the kids, it looked like a lovey-dovey yet disgusting act of affection between their parents, but Sezar knew it was actually an emotional scan—she knew!

No words were needed, they decided to stand before their house and look at it for one final moment.

"Papa," Kaleb said, "Are we really not coming back?"

"Indeed, Kaleb, we are not."


Sezar sighed, staggering to find the correct words, Kaleb was just pressuring him with his two big eyes—a gift from his mother.

"Well, boyo, it's just time," Izella answered, "the house was really good with us and now it's time to say goodbye, sometimes this just happens."

"Oh, ok," Kaleb said, confused yet contempt. 

Sezar looked at her, and she looked back. He gave an honest smile of gratitude, and she replied with a lovely wink of her eyes. 

She showed her full support for this decision, but Sezar could also scan his wife. It took him longer than Izella—and she was way better than him at this— but after a five-year marriage, he had sufficient confidence to interpret certain feelings emanating from her. Izella was not happy, and behind her confidence laid layers of doubts and uncertainty.

However, Izella too could detect a scan from her husband, "We're in this together, and that's home for me."

Sezar sighed again, but he reciprocated with a smile.

"Let's say goodbye to the house kids!" he exclaimed, albeit with a low voice so as not to disturb Mr. Benitez again.

They waved at the house, which lay empty already; all the furniture and decorations had been taken by a truck already on route to their new home or sold for extra cash.

"Bah-baii" uttered Eliana, waving her hand in all directions.

Sezar could see a droplet come out of Izella's eye.

"Bye-bye, home," Kaleb said.