MY BAGS WERE PACKED AND READY TO GO.
Father stood at the door, in an almost protective stance. His hand rested on the handle and by the small twitch he made every few seconds, I knew he was only waiting for me to leave. His dark eyes bored into mine, like he was almost afraid to look away, even for a short second. However, my mother’s small frame was hunched over, a sullen expression shadowing her face. Mother flicked her eyes up to mine before lowering them back down immediately. Her face creased anxiously, opening and closing her mouth in uncertainty.
“The taxi will take you straight to the bus station,” Father was the first to speak, his voice monotonous, while his face showed nothing of how he was feeling, “You know yourself where to go from there.”
I gave a stiff nod of my head, “Of course.”
Mother clamped a trembling hand over her mouth, her eyes burning with unshed tears. Yet when I looked at her, I seemed to feel nothing. The sadness and guilt that I thought I would feel, simply weren’t there. All that remained was an empty, hollow feeling inside of me. It was scary just how quickly I had gone from loving my parents to wanting to be as far away from them as possible.
“Miles,” My mother’s weak voice whispered behind me as I turned to leave. I froze in place, watching as she lifted her frail arms in an attempt to hug me but I stepped away.
“I should go or I’ll be late,” I murmured. I didn’t miss the look of hurt that crossed her face, her face crumpling as she teared up.
“Miles, please,” She pleaded, “Don’t leave like this.”
“Let the boy go Maura,” Father grumbled, “He causes nothing but disaster wherever he goes.”
“Jim!” Mother protested, her eyes lighting up in anger, “Don’t talk about him like that!”
“Am I wrong?” He challenged, cutting his gaze over to me.
The silent whispers of passerby’s began to catch my attention. I watched as they lowered their heads, attempting to discreetly point at me, murmuring into their partner’s ear.
Turning to me, mother clasped her hands together, trying to grip onto the loose sleeve of my jumper and blinked her warm, honey coloured eyes at me, “You don’t have to go, sweetheart. You can just lay low for a little while until the media coverage dies down a little. . .”
Gently, I grabbed her frail hands and pushed them away from me.
“It’s okay,” I murmured, trying to force a smile on my face, “Father is right. It’s better if I go.”
Feeling a lump grow in my throat, I cleared it roughly and brushed past my parents, not sparing them a last glance. I hauled the small bag I had over my shoulder, sighing at the heaviness that weighed down on me. Nausea swirled around in my stomach and doubt filled my mind.
Was I doing the right thing by leaving? Was I being a coward by choosing to run away?
But I knew staying here, would have felt more torturous than leaving. I couldn’t bear another moment of father’s piercing, hatred filled stare any longer. And while I knew mother was trying her hardest to act like everything was normal, I knew nothing would ever, or could ever, be the same after that night.
My heart was squeezing inside my chest, like someone had it held tightly in their fist and a searing pain shot through me. I struggled to breathe, my lungs feeling heavier than they had before.
When I heard the door slam shut behind me, a light sigh of exertion left my lips anx I turned back one last time to look at the place I had called home for over twenty years. Glimpses of my childhood flashed through my mind, like a series of quick images. I paused, feeling like I could almost hear the ghost of my childhood self cry with every step further I took.
I blinked, forced out of my thoughts when a man’s voice came from my right. I turned to see the taxi driver with his arms crossed, his cigarette stuck between his teeth as he lifted a questioning brow at me.
“Are you ready? I don’t have all day, you know? Either you hop in or I’m leaving,” He spoke with a low, rumbling voice, letting out a small puff of smoke.
“Sorry,” I apologized, my voice coming out weaker and hoarser than I had wanted it to, “I’m coming now.”
He gave a curt nod of his head, and turned to slide back into his car, slamming the door behind him. I followed suit, making my way over to the passenger side, not before taking one last glance at my home.
The place, which was once filled with the sound of mother’s tinkling laughter and father’s rumbling chuckles, was now tainted, holding nothing but painful memories. With each day that I spent there, the tighter the invisible rope on my neck seemed to grow.And as I finally slid into the car, I hoped the next stop held nothing but a blank page ahead.