the new-found art of leaving

She left late at night. Kate took her suitcases from under the bed, her clothes from the wardrobe and she started to pack. She hoped to finish packing before someone got home: she did not wish to see anybody. She had bought the tickets earlier that day, deciding she would leave that night right at the moment she bough the tickets and not a second before that. She had never been an impulsive person: not at all. Every movement was carefully planned in advance, sometimes several months before she put them into action. She had never ever been an impulsive person: she had never bought a blouse because she happened to see it while walking down the street, never seen a film just because it was in theatre, never kissed someone because they looked good and the night was full of stars and she had nothing else to do. Never had she been impulsive, not even when she had the chance to with no major consequences, and she was proud of herself for that. She was proud of being such a resolute person.

That night was different, though. Kate let herself decide where she would go, no pressure: it didn’t have to be the best city, the cheapest one, the one with the best attractions, and she had only the time during which she was queuing to make her decision. She had spent the whole afternoon thinking about doing something, something different and adventure-like [even if it weren’t a proper adventure]. She had to do something —anything — and then it struck her: she had to travel. She was walking home when she saw the train station [she passed by it everyday] and she entered it. She joined the queue and gave herself the few minutes until it was her turn to talk to the clerk to decide her destination. How long would she stay there? It didn’t matter. She would take all the cash she had plus her cards and that would be it. That was crazy. That was absolutely crazy. Why was she doing this? What had gotten into her? She had spent such a long time running away from the fact that she was unsatisfied and unhappy and all was fine until earlier that day, until something had gotten into her, until she got a call during her lunchtime [a call she wished she hadn’t gotten]… All was fine until she decided it wasn’t and that it was time to move on and she wouldn’t bother trying to understand her own reasons right away: they would make themselves plain one by one when the time came.

Inside her nicest suitcase were her best clothes, her favourite wellies and overcoat and the books she wanted to be her companions on that trip. She zipped the suitcase and took her rucksack and left her flat as swiftly as she had entered it earlier that night. The metallic lift was empty: she stepped inside and hoped it would remain empty until she reached the main floor. All it had to do was staying empty [but for her] for eight more floors, was that too much to ask? Clearly it wasn’t and when she stepped out of it she was glad to see the main floor also emptied of people. A cool breeze greeted her and her suitcase and her rucksack and it messed with her hair [but just a little bit: not enough as to be annoying], as as if saying “go on now, Katie, it’s your turn”. She ran into not a single one of her roommates, which made things a lot easier. The night was cloudless and the waning crescent moon fit perfectly among the many glimmering stars. She walked past the stone walls near her building, then past the tiny shop on the corner near the square: a guy was running towards her [he ran every day and she sometimes saw him from her bedroom window] and behind him ran a brown dog: no beings ran or walked beside these two.  She was terribly alone but she didn’t feel lonely at all: she felt as if her own company were the best she could have at that moment. But maybe that hadn’t been her best idea: what if she were about to make a big mistake: and how big could it be, really? Could it be big enough, so much that it would make sense to just come back home and get in bed and forget all about the ideas she had grown in the last few hours? She arrived at the train station. A few people were scattered here and there, reading books or drinking coffee, waiting for the train and so was she: the pace of life moved her towards the next step, encouraging her to stick to her recent plan, which wasn’t a plan at all: it was the lack of a plan, a serendipitous  trip she now felt she had to take.

That was her train. She could see it right there, she could read in yellow lights the name of the town she had chosen: it was time. She was doing it. Kate was going to enter the train and lead a new life: a new life filled with the mistakes and the learnings and the troubles and the happiness of her old life: a new life that much resembled the old one: a new life that could last for just a couple of days: nevertheless, a new life. She could hardly wait.

(Carol Smnt)

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