As a part of an English assignment, I was tasked with writing a short story given the prompt “When I was 18 I couldn’t wait to get out of this town” This was the result:
Glassy feel, fragile yet it held so much power, importance. I held the birro for five minutes in the writing position I learned thirteen years previous. Those long five minutes since I had written my last full stop. A black full stop is definitive. A full stop can mark the end of a sentences, more so a statement and also mark the beginning of another. But I had no more to write, instead, this full stop marked the beginning of a new chapter of my life, unwritten. Now ten minutes had passed and I still wouldn’t let the pen go, the sweat on my hands forced the pen to slide onto my exam paper. “June 20th…hottest day of the year,” said the weatherman as I was dressing at 7 am that morning. My last exam, my last day in that dull grey classroom, my last full stop. A sigh of relief slipped my dry mouth as the day had finally arrived, I could leave this town, I could start what was unwritten.
That night I went out to celebrate. I felt numb and it wasn’t because of the countless Jager bombs. More so because of my months of planning, lying and sleepless nights had lead to this moment. 3 am, June 21st I stood in my bedroom or “Man cave” as it was formerly known. Suitcase in one hand, passport in the other I walked out of my pitch-dark house. I almost didn’t make it with the noise of my suitcase on the hardwood floors and my clumsy slightly intoxicated self-making footsteps like an elephant, I almost woke the parents. They have no idea they will awake to a single crisp white envelope on my newly made bed instead of me. I had lied to them since Christmas saying I would stay in Dublin, get a job and wait for college…..Hell!
I decided to leave Dublin in my rearview mirror months before.
Sadly I still had that one loose end to tie up before I could leave, the leaving cert. And I tied that final loose end earlier with that full stop. Freedom! I couldn’t stand listening to my friends planning holidays after exams, leave the day they finish-come back the day of results. It made me sick to think of another three months, alone in this town. It was my 18th birthday back in December that I saw an epiphany in my flickering 18 candles. “Make a wish” I was done wishing, wishing for something to change. For he is a jolly good fellow was awash when I could hear my heart beating “Nothing is going to change if you don’t change it”.
So here I stood, at the top of my driveway looking back on the house that built me into what I am today. My heart was suddenly beating a different tune “Stay! Stay! Stay!”. I put my black duffel bag on my back, pull up the suitcase handle and looked down at my chest with a smile and said: “Shut Up!”. I started walking along the dry concrete, a sort of memory lane. I walked past the road where I lost my dog of 15 years. A green flaked bench where one of my closest friendships ended, why would I stay in a village full of pain? Then I looked at the town square where many festivals were held, the bus stop I stood at every morning before school. All the world’s problems were solved there if only it could talk. I walked past the field where I spent many a summers night like tonight was spent. Lying there under a blue and black sky, clear of clouds and sprinkled with stars I shared my first kiss. So it wasn’t all bad I thought as I looked up to find a cluster of stars. Now my heart cheekily beat “You want to stay now, don’t you?” Getting into a taxi answered his question.
I wanted to remain in a deep philosophical thought mode like you see in the movies. But alas the taxi driver didn’t take the hint of looking longingly out the window as we drove through more of my memories. “So where are you headed?” I broke my stare and answered “London and from there France”. I fumbled on the white leather interior while I checked my passport, he furthered the conversation “Are we picking anyone else up?” “Nope, just me”. That seemed to baffle him. I caught his eye in the mirror as he observed: “Aren’t you a bit young to be traveling alone?” I quipped back “Aren’t you a bit too nosey for your own good?” He laughed as we turned onto a seemingly abandoned motorway which appeared endless. I listened to the low radio playing Home by Michael Buble, “Can you turn it up?”. Suddenly a tropical shower attacked the taxi as I sang to myself “Another summers day has come and gone away, in either Paris or Rome, But I wanna go home”. We drove up to the airport as we both laughed again.
In stark contrast to my “Man cave” was this titanic spaceship know as terminal 2. All checked in I sat in a coffee shop with my passport and ticket. I held a cup of tea -milk no sugar- and sighed once again with relief. I sipped the hot tea and with every sip, I was reassured I was doing the right thing. Itching to leave this town behind me and explore the world. I would be back when the leaves would start to brown, back in time for college. But for now, I walked on Irish soil for the last time as I walked onto my plane.
We had lift off and my heart was beating “Let’s go back! I don’t like this!” I never was a good flyer. The captain boomed over the intercom “sorry for the delay but due to the torrential rain we will need to circle the city until it eases off.” The large man obstructing my pathway to the isle let out a scoff of annoyance. I ignored him and looked out the tiny oval shaped window. “One last time around,” I thought. Like Dorothy from Kansas I had been swept away in a storm and was heading to the magical Oz. I never understood that movie. A girl living a dull black and white life is given a free ride to the magical technicoloured city and she gives it up? My journey was much like Dorothy’s, going to foreign lands of adventure and cultures. The only difference between Dorothy and I is I don’t want to go back to Kansas anytime soon. As the captain straightened up and flew the course I looked down at my black and white converse. I clicked my heels three times and laughed as I set out on my life’s next chapter.