Montpelier.

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Snow swirled past the windows of the bus as it sped on into the heavy dullness of the late afternoon.

When willing the bus to turn around and take her back failed to have any effect, her thoughts turned to the future.

How could life ever be the same as it had been before?
How could she ever be the person that she used to be?
And how would she explain the changes that would, without any doubt, be noticed when she got home?

When the bus reached its next stop, she called him.

“I’m in Montpelier. But I’m coming back.”

The joy and relief in his voice told her all she needed to know.

She hugged herself tightly as she waited in the cold for the bus that would carry her northward again. It could not arrive soon enough to satisfy either of them. 

Montpelier is one of sixteen short stories in New Horizons.

Late Fall.

Given that ‘New Horizons’ just won first place for Short Story in the Summer Indie Book Awards,  I thought I would share a story from that book this week. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

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“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she lied.

So he left, not worried at all.

And she stayed, as she always had.

She had always wished he would touch her face gently, or hold her hand, and say he’d be back as soon as he could be. She longed to hear him tell her that there was nowhere else he would rather be than with her. She wanted him to hold her close when the nights were long and lonely. She craved for him to love her the way he had promised to, all those years ago.

But her hopes had faded with her memories of their happiness. For all she remembered of those times, it could have been someone else in the faded pictures in the album that she knew by heart, but could no longer bear to open.

A wedding dress. A baby’s first steps. A smiling couple in front of a small house in the suburbs. A schoolboy. A graduation. Another wedding dress.

The only thing that mattered anymore was the baby, and he was long gone, a grown man living on the other side of the country, pursuing his own hopes and dreams.

Probably for the best, she thought. No point in him knowing what my life has become. Just let him be happy.

What she wanted now was to be somewhere – someone – else.  It almost didn’t matter where, or who. Those things are not so important to someone who has almost entirely forgotten who she used to be.

She gazed at the leaves falling in the yard, flurries of colour falling to the ground, skittering playfully in the breeze.

So free. So beautiful. I wonder how they know when it’s time to fall.

Then she realised: they just do. It just happens.

She  turned away from the window and went to the closet. She took out a suitcase and began to fill it with her things. She was preparing to leap from her tree and fly to another place.

She was afraid of falling; she was afraid of the wind.

But she was more afraid of staying where she was and ceasing to exist at all.

©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

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‘Late Fall’ appears in New Horizons.
Find out more at www.jvlpoet.com/books

 

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