A marriage which shouldn’t be. The path to forgiveness begins in unlikely places. And love can bloom among the thorns.
Immigrant Francisco has escaped the cruelty of Cuba, but has been a man without a true home. Now terminal cancer has driven him into the arms of Stacy.
Traveling half-way around the world together, they each have a journey to take. Francisco confronts his past. While Stacy tries to open her heart after a devastating first marriage. Both pushing each other in ways they are unwilling to accept.
Can he make amends and say he’s sorry for his wrongs? Can she learn to let go and be free to love again?
Targeted Age Group:: adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the stories of immigrants from Cuba. People who now live in American, Spain, Italy, Greece and even the Yukon in Canada. There was a common thread among all of them, a longing for freedom and wish for a place to call home. As I did more and more research into the topic, I just felt I had to write what was in my heart. And Road to Freedom was born.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters are inspired by people I have know a some point along my own journey. Everyone has a story to share.
A few days ago, we had gone out to eat. The hostess had led us to a dark, back corner; the bulb was broken in the lamp hanging over the table. The only illumination in the area was from some weak little candle set in the center of the table. I’d asked if we could be put somewhere else. Francisco leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “Es muy romantico. We sit.” Then he pushed me into the booth and slid into the same side as me.
I’d been uncomfortable at first. He’d kept leaning in closer. Ended up smooshed against the wall, even getting to my utensils was difficult without touching him. But in the end, I’d decided to roll with it. Make the most of a bad situation. Since music had always been a big part of my life, I asked Francisco if he’d heard the song playing in the background before. Much to my surprise he nodded yes, even though it was from long before he came to America.
“Learn English con music porque es muy facil.” He stated with a hearty laugh as he began to sing along with the lyrics. “No boy get to mucho love any mas. Es ask hi una montana y hairy to chime.”
Oh boy, and I thought only Americans butchered music lyrics. I bit my lip, trying to not break out in hysterical laughter. “Oh, honey. Do you understand what the song means? Love is hard, it takes work. Like taking a long walk up a mountain. No es facil.” I gave a little chuckle and patted his hand twice. Wanting to show him I would never mock him, but I still wanted him to be his best. Learning a second language wasn’t easy, as I was finding out in my struggle to learn his.
“Si, Si.” He tapped my hand back. And continued to sing along, badly.
However, as the evening went on, we kept on listening to the music and sharing this common bond. Me trying to help him understand the tunes, him doing his darndest to listen and repeat the words. The food on the table was shared appetizers rather than individual plates, somehow, I’d relaxed and enjoyed the evening. Our hands bumping each other on occasion as we reached for the snacks.
Later a song about Key Largo came on. “Tu be en Miami?” Francisco asked me as he hummed along with the music.
I grabbed my purse from my lap, slipped my phone from its pocket, and scrolled for a moment finding the photo I wanted. “Yes, several times. Odd place that.” I stated as I shared with him what was on my screen.
“Stay aqui en start en America. No good es Miami.” He frowned, looking at the image on the screen. The intense gaze he was giving it made me think he was trying to figure out what corner of the city it was. “Mi wife esta en Miami. Ella es un bruja.” He stated as he turned his eyes toward me.
I paused for a moment; my face bunched in a knot I’m sure at the surprise of his statement. The witch part I got, the rest not so much. “You’re married?” I thought he had no family.
“No mas. Ella no es good.” He turned his face from me for the first time all night, looking out at the rest of the room. He didn’t want me to know, but from the closeness of our seating arrangements, his anger was on full display. As his whole body stiffen, mine did as well, the heat from his face so strong it made me believe the restaurant staff had turned up the room temperature.
I wasn’t sure why this has slipped out, a brief flash of weakness, I guess.
“It’s okay, I understand. Sometimes the ones we love hurt us the most.” I said as I put my hand on his.
“Gracias. Tu es good.” His voice was faint, I almost didn’t catch it given the music blaring in the background. He didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Then he turned back to me. “Lo siento. Miami es iqual de Cuba. No es good. Spain no es mejor.” His words a low growl, hate, rage in each one.
Wait, back up here, he’d lived in Cuba? When we first met, he’d told me he was from Spain. Well this explained a lot. I’d seen sparks of unexplained anger at odd times, as well as irrational behavior. Since he was dealing with so much because of the effects of the chemo, I hadn’t pushed him about his past. But this man had been through something that was far below the American standard of normal. Well, if he wanted to growl at me for eating the last fried pickle on the plate tonight, so be it. His pain was his and when he wanted to deal with it, he would. Or maybe he already had decided to deal with it by licking me.
“So, you moved on. And now you’re here. With me. And everything is okay. Yes?” I offered him a small smile, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. Letting others know someone cared often is the best thing in the world to heal.
“Si.” He tapped on the table with his fingers, his frown changing to a hint of a smile. Clearly in an attempt to signal the conversation over, he began to sing along to the music again.
I let him off the hook at the time; didn’t force him to reveal more. No, I joined in the sing-along, went with the flow. Laughing at the little things, enjoying the moment with my friend.
And it wasn’t until this second as I sat watching the sunrise, I realized I’d been leading him on without knowing it. Because deep inside me, was a little kernel which had always wanted something more than being alone. Telling me that I wanted what others appeared to have. Someone to have connection with, someone to call my own. Yet I’d always been led to believe this was something I couldn’t have or ask for. And I now understood those lyrics, “Don’t you want somebody to love, don’t you need somebody to love.”
And all the while, he’d been trying to make his move on me. That night, several other little moments before then, and of course the night before in his kitchen. And I never saw any of it. Or rather, didn’t want to see it. Because love was heartache. Even when you give just a little and expect nothing in return. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Or so the saying goes. Ignorance was bliss. And I’d been trying to live in a bubble for years. Safe and alone. And I wanted out.
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