A faded, grey shadow of a girl stood in front of the desk. He looked up from the racing pages with a
start. “Didn’t see you there. Can I help?” She didn’t speak, just continued staring
through vacant eyes. He couldn’t see any
spark inside her. The greyness was all
consuming. The fluorescent sign
flickered bright pink and yellow across her face. “Vacant”. The sign was right about her. Definitely nobody home. He tried again. “You want something?” Her lips moved but no sound came out. He didn’t know but it had been days since she
had been allowed to use her voice.
Nobody had wanted to hear what she had to say. Nobody had noticed her. They had left her in the background. The greyness had consumed her entire
life. She’d left and nobody had noticed.
Nobody had asked her opinion about anything for years. She didn’t know how to respond. She mouthed the words. Her throat constricted with the sudden
movement. She felt like she was going to
be sick. The words were stuck. She needed to get them out. This was the first step. Wrong – she had left. That had been the first
step. She needed to find her voice now.
“I need a room.”
It came out as a hoarse whisper.
It was barely audible across the desk.
“A room.” She
swallowed. Saliva was lubricating her
throat. She cleared it and
swallowed. “I need a room. Please.”
She was determined that her new life would be full of pleasant manners
and kindness now. No more demands, name
calling or swearing. She was starting
A slightly depressing one today…I’m not planning to do this at all but it’s interesting imagining the feelings and emotions.
She sat down to write. Nothing new there. It was a daily ritual. She never knew what would come out of her pen these days. But this, she knew exactly what to say. Everything was clear. She knew what to do. Write the letter and leave it. Walk to the river. Find something heavy to weigh herself down just in case panic made her want to survive. Walk into the river. Drown. Simple. Everything resolved in one easy move. No more voice. No more headaches. No more noise. Just quiet death. He would understand. He always understood. He looked at her with such compassion. She wished she could feel better. For him.
Her coat was wrapped around her ankles and it clung to them
like a persistent child. She felt the
cold penetrating her shoes, her stockings, her calves and up her legs. It was like icy tentacles shooting through
her veins. Still she stepped
deeper. There was no turning back this
time. As she stepped in to the fast
flowing muddy water her coat released its grip on her ankles and floated out
like a balloon. The stones in her pockets
felt like lead weights dragging her body deeper into the river. She was cold to her chest now and had to keep
breathing steadily to stay fixed on her goal. Gravity stepped in and was
pulling her down. Her plan was
working. The tide felt strong but each
muddy step felt like an iron anchor sinking into the mud bottom. Each step grew harder as she tried to pick
her feet up and take another step deeper.
The shock of water on her face made her falter. It slapped some sense of reality back for one
second and as she opened her mouth the water rushed in. Her head was pulled backwards as the river
pulled at her hair. The cold ran through
her insides too now. It wouldn’t be
The armchair sagged under the weight of years. It lay waiting. The window opened over the lush garden while the door shut it out. Blossoms nodded around the window behind the glass. A light drizzle spattered on the window. It was dark and cold inside. The electric fire glowed fluorescent against the tiled fireplace. It barely penetrated into the room. The books shivered on their book case and were huddled together for warmth. Paintings hung limply on the dark, damp walls.
He’d taken to being in her rooms, waiting for news. He knew she was gone but the cold comfort from her rooms comforted him.
He knew she was dead.
He’d known on the first day. It
was now the fifth day. He waited. For the telephone call, or the knock at the
door. Everyday he walked to the river
tracing the steps he thought she had taken.
They had found her walking stick abandoned on the bank. He roamed the canal path for another sign but
there was none. He knew he wouldn’t find
anything. She had planned this. It hadn’t been a clumsy mistake when she’d
come home soaked to the skin the other day.
She had tried then, but something had gone wrong. This time she had been better prepared. It had been definite. She didn’t plan to return. Her letter had told him as much. He didn’t need to take the letter out – he
had memorised it in the first few moments of reading it.
It was three weeks before they found her. She had been abused by the tide and by the
elements. The local boys had mistaken
her for floating driftwood and thrown stones at her lifeless corpse.
This was written half inspired by a daily commute and half by random thoughts of escaping from the daily grind.
The electric doors hummed open and a blast of fresh air hit her in the face and she really believed for a moment that she might step off the train. She believed that she was ready to face the truth. The platform was grey, the skyline was grey, the buildings were grey– it was suffocating. Her head spun and she grasped the door frame trying to breathe, but the greyness was cloying. She heard the tutting and sighing in the distance as she blocked the exit with her bag in her hand.