Chapter 20: What are you running from?
What’s stopping you from running away? What’s holding you back from leaving everything behind? Yourself or everyone else?
Or is the real question what are you running from, and will you ever really be able to escape it?
Now shut your eyes for a second, maybe two, it’s entirely up to you. Think. Imagine.
Would you be missed?
Would you regret it?
Would you be able to do things you’d never been able to do before?
Would you feel free?
Freedom may sound like a beautiful, elegant word but really it’s the face of all evil. Freedom is a lie, because really you will never be truly free until the day you die. It’s just fate that determines whether you are lucky enough to find someone along the journey in your life, who gives you that breath of freedom, that split second moment of happiness every single day.
But even then it will only be a taste of what you could really have if your mind set you free. Because it’s our minds that are trapping us in the first place.
So make your decision now.
What would you do if a stranger asked you to run away with them? Would Kirsten be stupid to say no?
She is just a word away from having that one thing everyone is so desperate to gain but so careless at finding. Freedom.
All she has to do is say yes.
Now one final question for you to ask yourself, whilst thinking about running away. Now this one’s important so listen closely...
Would you come home?
“Just down here.”
His warm hand rested at the base of my back, guiding me through the willow trees beneath the gently darkening sky. He stopped suddenly, moving his hands to grip my shoulders and lodging me in place.
I was turned to face him. Our eyes swam.
“Right. Okay.” His eyes flickered like a dodgy light bulb, “In a minute I’m going to tell you to close your eyes.”
“And when I do, you have to pinky swear that you won’t open them until I say so.”
“Ooh,” I kissed my teeth, “Not sure I can pinky swear, but I might be able to promise.”
He rolled his eyes dramatically and gave me a gentle kick, “Stop being stupid and just say it.”
“Okay...” I mumbled, “Just answer this one question for me and I’ll pinky swear.”
I went up on my tip toes so that our noses touched, and so that we were level. I was quite short compared to him, who towered above me like...well, a tower.
“Why are you nervous?” I smiled.
He took a step backwards immediately, frowning and crossing his arms over his chest.
“I am not nervous.”
He looked genuinely pissed off, which just made me laugh even more.
He sighed before turning around so that he was facing his back to me.
“Oh come on,” I whined, grabbing his shoulder and trying to twist him back around. He wouldn’t budge.
“Nope. I am doing exactly what you did to me when we first met.”
“What...?” I frowned, confused for a split second.
“Okay, fuck you” I said, remembering the time when me and him first met in the library, and I’d been too startled by his appearance to actually turn around and have a conversation with his face like a normal person would.
“I’m sure you’d love to Sunshine, but I’m sorry to say that even though I might look like a guy who would shag in the woods, looks can be deceiving. Although I’m totally a lift shagger.”
He finally turned around, eyes gleaming.
“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!”
“You sure do.”
" ’Cause books are shit.”
I scowled at him. “You’re skating on thin ice my friend...”
“I can’t skate. Hate that too.”
“What do you like?”
He paused, rubbing his fingers on his chin and looking up at the sky in fake thought.
“Two things,” he put up two fingers, “One: Arguing.”
“What?! No?” My voice dripped sarcasm.
He ignored my remark, placing one finger down and smiling to himself.
My heart did a somersault. It seemed to be doing a lot of them lately.
“Gross.” I scoffed, trying to look displeased and not like I was melting on the inside.
He was sweet in a dodgy kind of way and it made me smile. But sometimes I couldn’t believe he hated romance, because beneath the layers of fucking annoying, he was kind of romantic.
“All joking aside,” he winked, “Close your eyes because you are going to fall head over heels in love with this place.”
He took two steps closer to me, so that the space between us was erased once again. He placed his hand above my eyes and softly stroked it down my face, so that my eyelids fluttered to a close. My breathing hitched.
“How do I know you aren’t about to murder me?” I was half joking, half not.
“Because if I was going to do that, I wouldn’t of gone to all of this effort.”
I felt myself being pushed forwards — and the arms of the willow trees sheltering the gap like a curtain — parting and tickling my bare arms. I was in a sleeveless black top, with my green hoodie tied around my waist. My shoulders were exposed and it made me feel uncomfortable, because there had been more than one occasion since me and The Boy That Hates Books had got into the car that I’d seen him looking.
Suddenly, a crisp breeze washed over my flushed skin and a sweet smell filled my nostrils. I knew we were here.
“Okay, on the count of 102...” His voice was smiling.
“Shut up.” I giggled.
“On the count of 87...”
“Please” I begged.
And my eyes were open.
It’s a funny thing.