I’m walking down a little street. It’s framed by two lines of terraces, and I’m walking down a fairly steep hill. At the end, which is only about 100 yards before me, there is a small, light orange terrace line. It’s at these points that I think the town really ought to be by the sea. It will never happen. We’re at least 100 miles from the ocean, and after global warming this place will be underwater. My house will be a seaside property though.
Sometimes I get stuck thinking about the bad things that could happen. I’m crossing the road now, and I can’t help thinking that I’ll be hit by a car and die and I’m running through everything I’ve said to everyone and thinking it isn’t enough. Then I’m looking down and I see my glasses falling off my face and onto the floor and everyone on the pavement coming towards me standing on them and my mum having to buy me new ones and we’re not poor so it wouldn’t matter too much but I’d still feel bad. And I see a hundred of these every second, a hundred bad things that could happen and I can’t stop myself from noticing them. I can’t see the real world when they happen. I mean, I’m not blind, I can put one foot in front of the other in the right place, I can see to do that, but I can’t see. I can’t let go of the sadness in my stomach telling me something bad is bound to happen.
I’m walking still, at least another 200 yards, before the feeling passes. The feeling always passes, but I can’t remember that when I’m feeling it. I can only remember the faces of my family and the aching in my belly when I feel it.
I should tell you where I’m going. But that would feel too much like the future, and I don’t want to tell you about the future or the past. I think what’s important is what’s happening now.
I’m worried. I’m in my final year of secondary school – that’s high school senior to all you yanks – and I’ve got so much revising to do. There are mocks tomorrow. In fact, where I’m going and how I’m walking is in itself procrastination. See, how slowly and meanderingly I walk? It’s because I don’t want to get where I’m going and I don’t want to think anymore. But as you can see from all the words here, thinking is basically all I can do. I guess that’s what it is to be human.
I’m walking past Stephen’s house. The air smells like cold, clear nights spent surrounded by people who ignored me. I used to come to Friday Night Magic here – that’s where Magic: The Gathering nerds meet up to play on Friday nights – until most of the guys went to Uni. I miss going there. It made me feel social, even though I really only interacted with the people I already knew. I’m not a very social person.
His house is in a housing estate right at the edge of town. I don’t come here very often, I don’t live here and my school is at the other end of town. I’m walking up the hill. I’m looking at the dust. The stones. They’re scattered. The ground is mud turned up by tractors and horse hooves. It suggests more movement than happens here. It’s isolated. Quiet. Old. Some places are like that, old, even though they’re not. The used to be a wood until 1940 when a farmer cut down almost all the trees and spread out his farm.
It still feels old here. Old ground. Old trees. Old dreams.
There’s a flat rock at the top of the hill here. It’s worth walking to. It looks out over the valley, in the opposite direction to the town. Its spring. Here, that means jeans and a hoodie and the sun on your face and you’re not cold. The wind’s whipping all around me and it’s nice. I'm taking out my earphones. I’m looking over the fields, towards these two hills. They look like a kids drawing, a sloping green hill, bare except for a sole tree right in the middle of each. It’s not actually just one tree. Looks like it from this distance, though.
When I look at the hills like this I get the strong urge to set off in a straight line towards them, past them, over the horizon and keep on until I’m somewhere new and interesting and then keep on. When I eventually have a boyfriend, I’d love to go on an extended 6 month walking tour of Britain and learn the folk songs and stories of each village and community, from Scotland and wales and England and all. And we wouldn’t be able to use busses or modern things, just ourselves and a map and our feet, like a real pilgrimage.
I’ve never told anyone that. I’m sorry, I probably bored you. I didn’t mean to. I’ll stop.
Let’s talk about something else. I guess I should get going. The dusk is falling, cloudy over the horizon. I’m keeping on the same track. It leads past those traffic lights to where I’m meant to be. It’s still too early for me to tell you, I’m sorry. I’m taking you each step. I won’t leave anything out. Everything in my head, it will be yours.