The outside air was so warm and harsh on my face. Blood dripped down from my eyebrow like tears, and I wiped them away as if it was. I kept walking. My pace was slow, but no one was coming after me. I was alone.
I thought of the backpack I was carrying. Considering its contents, it was actually quite light. I had been packing it for a few days, putting in a few things here and there; shirts, tooth brush, pants, anything that I thought I might need for the next couple of days.
The night around me was almost on the edge of morning. Everything was so silent, not even a cricket could have been heard. My boots made a soft ‘slap’ every time they hit the footpath and I thought it was comforting – the isolation; the freedom. I took my phone out of my pocket, I didn’t have any missed calls or texts. Yes, I thought. Freedom.
As I passed houses along the street I tried to think about the lives inside. Even those that belonged to people I already knew. I couldn’t really know them, I suppose, because I’d never seen what goes on once that door closes and they’re alone, which is precisely the reason that no one knew me. When they woke up they would have heard about my disappearance and they would have say to each other, “I wonder why she would do that,” and they would think that I’m “cruel” because they don’t know. Nobody knew.
Except for us.
I slipped my phone back into my pocket and kept walking, wondering when I would be able to stop. If I would be able to stop. He would look for me, that part was inevitable. But he didn’t have to find me, that part was optional.
By morning I had planned to be out of the town and out of reach. It had taken me longer than I had planned to leave. He stayed up too late while I was lying, shaken, on the bed, with a facecloth held up to my split brow. I knew that it was time, and I knew that even if he went to bed at 3 a.m. I would leave.
After an hour of walking I reached the train station. I booked a ticket to a place I had never been to, so he wouldn’t find me staying at a friend’s, or at my parent’s. It was too early to go back to my loved ones. Instead, I would use the money I had been saving and live alone for a while.
I took my seat on the train. There were only a few other people around me, but no one looked my way, and I was happy with that.
Just before the train departed, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I smiled to myself, knowing that I would have to turn it off beyond this point.
It was him: WHERE ARE YOU?
I put it back into my pocket and dabbed my sleeve onto my eyebrow to see if it was still bleeding. It wasn’t.