Prompt: (iPod on shuffle) Oh La La – Small Faces
Word count: 567
Train journeys are great, aren’t they? They’re a brilliant time to reflect on things as you head into the unknown and the new, or as you crawl back home, battered and destroyed from life.
We go home to repair. It’s always described as a relief to get home.
So, I reflect. Or rather I plug in my headphones, curl up on the empty seat next to me and using my rucksack as a pillow, I try to sleep. I try to block out the feelings of failure, the thoughts of rejection. I look up at the yellow overhead lights, the grey seats, the darkened windows with the occasional light from outside flashing past. We’re passing through the countryside – I’ll know soon enough when we get close to the city because that’s when the lights get brighter, more frequent. Some might say ‘more intrusive’ but not me. I can’t sleep if it’s too peaceful. I need the roar of a distant motorway and streetlights streaming in through my window to sooth me to sleep. She always hated that.
She was always the opposite to me. I used to tell myself that was why we were so great – she was the yin to my yang. It’s how I ended up in the countryside. I thought if I sacrificed enough of myself I would make it work but all that happened was that I gave up so much of me that eventually there wasn’t anything left. Well, all except the tiniest scrap that determinedly clung on and screamed at the top of its minute lungs that this. Wasn’t. Right.
I sit up and gaze out the window, resting my arms on the table. She wasn’t a bad person. Certainly not a bad wife. We just never should have been together. I think the hardest part about it all was admitting to myself that there was no shame in giving up and walking away. On the surface, we were the golden couple. Childhood sweethearts who went through uni together, then started our careers, bought our first flat (in the city), married and bought our first house (in the countryside). We never argued. Never cheated. We held dinner parties. Everyone always said how perfect we were, how well we were doing.
Except we weren’t. I stopped trying to tell people when they pointed it out because it became harder and harder to try and explain just how wrong everything was. I made a terrible mistake and settled for being uncomfortably comfortable when I should have been running away as fast as I could.
She wasn’t surprised when I told her I was leaving. She even helped me pack and asked if I had somewhere to stay. The perfect break up for the perfect couple.
It’s a common phrase to hear people say they wish they knew what they know now back then. I don’t even know what I know now. Five years ago, I was so sure. Now, I haven’t got a clue. I’m older, weaker and dumber. Isn’t it supposed to be the opposite?
I’m tired. I know that much.
The lights out the window are becoming more frequent. I can see the motorway. We must be getting closer to the city.
I don’t wish I knew then what I know now. I’m so broken, empty and completely lost, and it all comes from knowing what I used to believe is a lie.
The lights outside are bright. The city is so beautiful. It’s like she’s stayed up to welcome me home. Maybe that’s enough for now.