Fresh Start. Short Story.

Sandra let the passing fields blur into one, they had distracted her at first, watching the buildings turn to trees turn to expanses of green, but now they were boring. Long stretches only broken up by the occasional cow or sheep. Even then they were gone in a flash, whisked away before she could truly look at them. She wasn’t entirely sure where she was going, she had no plan when she arrived at the bus station. It was simple, take the first bus that was leaving and wherever she arrived would be her new home, the names of places had blurred together, all she knew for certain was that she needed to get the bus from Bay 8. She had been on the bus for about six hours now, it seemed longer.

She hadn’t planned on leaving when she woke up that morning, she hadn’t planned on anything really. She had been fired the day before, the company was downsizing and they didn’t need her anymore. Not that she blamed them, it wasn’t like she was doing anything important, the most she ever did was reroute phone calls or direct a visitor to the bathroom. Everyone in the office took care of their own appointments for the most part, she didn’t really understand why they needed a secretary, but it was a cushy job with good pay. It had seen her through eight months and now the search for a new job would begin. She had never really had a career, mostly she just flitted from job to job, whatever took her fancy. Paul had been supportive, comforting her, though she didn’t really need comforting, and buying her Chinese food on his way home from work. It was a nice gesture, but at the end of the day it wouldn’t solve her problem. She wasn’t overly upset by the firing either, Paul had expected her to be in tears, to wallow for a day or two, that was never her style. They’d been dating for six months now and living together for two. That was probably a mistake, moving in so early, but her lease was up and he needed a new roommate so it seemed like a good idea. After all it wasn’t a bad relationship, they got along well, the sex was good for the most part, but there was something missing. She didn’t know what it was, but she knew it wasn’t there. Paul was a pit stop, not the destination, she could feel it and she assumed that he felt it too. They hadn’t had any of the big talks yet, marriage, children, that stuff, nor had they had any big arguments, they just floated along. They didn’t even really know the little things about each other. After all he still didn’t know about her siblings and she only learned his mothers name a week ago. All those little things that one learns naturally just never seemed to come up in the course of the relationship.

So when she woke that morning and listened as Paul got himself ready for work she thought about her life. Was she really happy here? Or was she just staying because it was convenient, after all her life was here now, a job, Paul, the few friends she had made since she moved her almost a year before. She had never really stopped to consider if she was happy here, if this was what she wanted. She had all these things and so she never stopped to question it. When she thought about it, really thought about it, she realised that she wasn’t happy, but neither was she sad. She was just existing, doing what she was supposed to do while she waited for something better to come along. Better job, better friends, better life. And that was no way to live. So she got out of bed, showered, dressed and packed a bag. When she was done packing she was surprised to find that all of her things fit inside a single suitcase. When she moved in with Paul she hadn’t really brought anything from her old place, he already had furniture and decorations and there was nothing she had gotten that she particularly wanted. She was never one for a large wardrobe, she had enough clothes to keep her going, buying new ones and donating old ones when needed. She had a few bits of jewellery, most of it was fake anyway. She had left her keys on the counter and a note. Perhaps it was cowardly, but there was no other way to do it. She knew if she waited, if she told him how she felt he would talk her out of it. He’d tell her to wait a few weeks, look for another job, and she would and she would find herself exactly as she was the day before. Tied down, unable to move. Now was the time to start fresh, when she wasn’t tied down by a job or family. Paul would be fine by himself, he might struggle with the bills for a month or two, but she had left him money with the note, enough to get him through until he could find someone else to take the spare room that was full of random crap.

Occasionally Sandra would feel a pang, a sharp stab of anxiety telling her to go back, that it wasn’t too late. Sandra ignored these feelings, the bus kept going, she would stick it out to the end. It was an adventure. When she got to wherever she was going she would get a hotel room and look for a place to rent. She had enough savings to support herself for a few months while looking around, once the place she ended up in wasn’t too expensive. She checked the time on her phone, Paul would be out of work soon, she didn’t want to deal with that, especially not while she was still on the bus. She didn’t want to be one of those people having personal conversations entirely too loudly in an enclosed space. She turned it off and slipped it back into her bag before she turned and continued looking out the window.

When the bus finally stopped Sandra gathered her things and stepped off, the air smelled good, clean and fresh, the sun was shining and she knew she made the right choice.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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