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Solitary

By M K Lee All Rights Reserved ©

Drama

Short Story

It is only if you looked into the depths of the poorly lit pub that you would see him.

In the corner at the back of this near-empty establishment is a small alcove, or snug if you will, lined with weighty tomes, heavily-varnished oak panelling and thick, dusty green curtains.

He sits prone, legs outstretched on the old leather sofa with a well-thumbed book on his knee and a bookmark in his hand that he absentmindedly taps a rhythm with on the back of the sofa.

His head is turned toward the hearth and its fire that bathes everything in a pale yellow glow, but his eyes are unfocussed, looking but not seeing through the flames.

On the table before him is the residual froth of coffee in a dark green mug, a chipped brown plate with a few crumbs and a smear of chocolate that suggest the presence (and now absence) of fudge cake, and a passport with a collection of both used and unused tickets and boarding passes.

To the side of the table is an overstuffed backpack that has seemingly disgorged its contents into a messy heap on the floor.
With an unconscious sigh he comes back to his surroundings and stretches, reaching for and then flexing his hand away from the habitual checking of his phone. He instead glances down at the heavy watch on his wrist, sees he still has another hour before he needs to leave for the train station, and slumps back down into his seat, arms folded across his chest.

More coffee? Beer?

He pats his stomach as though consulting its opinion, deciding that he will wait until he leaves and buy something for the journey instead. A nine hour overnight stint awaits, and idly he thinks about the unlikeliness of sleep.

Mentally recalling how many days it has been since he boarded his first plane, he is pleasantly in limbo in his travels. With only the barest of planning and no particular end point or destination in sight he feels... himself. Free. At peace.

Is it true you that find yourself when you leave your life behind?

Through the small window he can see an inky sky and not much else; this could be any town or city in any number of places. The point is, it is somewhere different. A temporary pause. A solitary breath.

Travelling is never without its moments, both good and bad. The unpleasant jolt of take-off, the jarring sound of brakes on tracks, the inevitable traffic. Sunsets over bridges, the thrill of having no clue where you are, unfathomable menus. Minor in detail but major in memories.

Essential to making this person who he is.

A short doze follows, and then he groans, wipes a palm slowly across his face as if to wake himself, and rolls forward. Time to repack. Looking around for any stray belongings, he smiles to himself, fully enjoying his sometimes-reclusive nature and this sense of pure autonomy.

Because, this is who he is. Currently, indefinitely, who knows? Maybe he'll find the thing he's always felt was missing, perhaps he already has it and needs to be away to recognise what it is, but either way, what does it matter? This is his story, his life.
He'd rather live it then let it live him.

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