She rose early that day. Everybody else was still asleep and the house lay quiet. She could’ve done with a couple of hours more sleep, but that was not an option and then again she was glad to end this constant wandering between awake and asleep.
The house was still sleeping when she closed the door behind herself and stepped into the darkness. It was raining. Of course it was. The streets were empty. Barely a soul was up. She hurried her way down to the bus stop. Time was not an issue, but at least she’d be protected from the rain. The bus pulled over the second she arrived at the stop. She would’ve missed it if she hadn’t hurried. Thanks to the rain after all.
“Good morning! 2,70 please.” she greeted the driver. She was surprised how happy she sounded. The driver gave her a friendly smile and the ticket. She took the first seat she could find and they rushed through the early morning.
“It’s way too early.” She thought, only to remember that there had been a time when she would be on the bus even earlier than this. A different time. A different place. A different destination.
But where she was heading would bring her back to the times long past.
The pounding rain against her window and the squeaking of the wipes brought her back to where she was. “Poor driver, he’ll have to listen to this all day long. It would drive me insane.” she thought. She looked around. The bus was surprisingly full now. All on their way to work. Most seemed to know each other by sight. A little bus gang of early workers. And they talked. And talked. And they wouldn’t stop. She’d never liked talking at this time of the day. But obviously she was the only one on this bus, who thought that way.
The lights flashing by carried her off again. Did the green of the traffic light always look so blue? And the street lights looked rather orange. She’d seen that before. But she couldn’t remember if those lights were meant to look that way.
What did she say? What was the next stop? All of a sudden she realised that she had no clue where exactly she was. Shit! What time was it? No, she couldn’t be there yet.
Two stops later she finally had to get off. And then she hurried through the streets again. On her way to the next bus. She had never seen town this empty. There had always been a stream of people carving their way through the city. Today it seemed dead to her. “It’s the time.” she reminded herself. Soon town would be as alive as ever before.
Then she found herself waiting again. In the rain. Getting wetter and wetter with every single minute.
And she wasn’t alone. More and more people joined her at the bus stop. Most were quiet, but then a group of young people came. They talked to each other excitedly. With a smile she recognised their language. They would all be on the same flight. They were all trying to catch the same plane. Heading to the same place.
She looked around. In fact all those people were heading to the same place.
A place called home.
“Jamie!” Finally Alice had opened the window. I was standing here for quite a while already and my feet started getting cold. Not to mention my hands. I grinned at her. “Hey Alice.” “Did you throw stones at my window?” I nodded and scratched my head. “Why? I mean, why didn’t you just text me? And what are you even doing here?” The truth was I simply liked the idea of doing it. Who ever does this nowadays? “I thought it would be more special. I came to pick you up.” “Pick me up?” “To travel the world with me.” “Travel the world with you?” I heard a scent of surprise in her voice. “Yeah, won’t you come down?” “I thought you were joking when you said you wanna leave this town.”
Earlier this week we had been for a walk. She never had liked walking her dog alone in the dark. We were living in the safest and most boring town around and still she seemed to be scared of this place. I loved the darkness. And I loved walking around in the darkness. Everything was so different in the dark. Calm and alive at the same time. And my thoughts were never as clear as in the dark.
It had been a very long walk and we had been talking and talking and talking. Well most of the time I had been talking. And at some point I had felt the enormous desire to just walk on. To never stop. To just leave this place. I knew that feeling very well.
Sure it was my hometown, but I kept thinking that I had outgrown. I knew every single part of this town. There was nothing new waiting for me. I had met every person living here. There was nobody new to meet. And those people I had met here? Well, their worlds seemed quite little to me. I had often asked myself if just a single person in this town had ever dared to dream big. If just one wanted more than just this ordinary life. And how many of them had even been travelling? Not the “We have been travelling to see aunt Maggie” kind of travelling, but the “going abroad, seeing other countries, seeing other continents” kind of travelling. There was so much to see in this world and I wanted to see all of it. I wanted more. I wanted to ride on waves, to walk on sand, to dig in caves and find treasures. Not for the gold. I would just throw it away. But for the story. I wanted stories to tell. So when I’m old I would have stories to tell my grandchildren. Maybe I could also write about it.
I had told Alice about all that. We were dreaming for hours about all the foreign places we could go to. There were so many places on her list. So many things she wanted to see. The pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall in China, Venice, the Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu, the Petra ruins…
That had been the moment I told her that we should leave this town. That I wanted to leave. I had always wanted to do that, but I also had known that I couldn’t do it alone. I had been waiting for fate to come, because I was afraid of being alone in this big world. I had been waiting for a brand new day. I had been waiting for too long.
“I wasn’t. Come away with me, Alice. I’ll be waiting outside til you’re ready to go.” “That’s insane Jamie. I’m not coming. I can’t leave and you also can’t.”
My neck started hurting from looking up at her. Speechless I looked on the ground and watched myself drawing circles with my feet. I knew she was still at the window and watching me.
“Why can’t we?” “Why can’t we?” she repeated. “Because we have a life here, Jamie. That’s why. We can’t just leave.”
A life here. What kind of a life was that? The kind of life were safety kills your soul. The kind of life were there’s no room for creativity. No room for originality. No room for being different.
“I can’t do another year like that.” I looked back on the ground. “Like what?” I didn’t answer. I didn’t feel like she’d understand anyway. I thought she was like me, but I was wrong. I thought she would be the one on my side when I forever leave this town behind me. That she would be my partner in crime. The one to be with me when I finally start to live. I was wrong. I simply whistle to a different tune.
And then I knew it. I needed nobody. I could do it all alone. I wanted to leave this town and nothing could hold me back. I knew that more than being alone I was scared of never getting out of here.
I smiled and looked up at the window again. Alice was still there. “I’ll see you soon.” I said and added “Or not.” in my thoughts. I turned around and walked away. And I walked on and on and never stopped.
I never saw Alice again.
Get your copy here: