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I Say Goodbye by S.P. Taylor

April 16, 2021– You’ll remember last week when we asked writers to submit their stories to be featured on our blog based on the photo writing prompt above. It was all about pushing the envelope, and I’m pleased to say that one writer has certainly done that with her submission. Please join me in congratulating S.P. Taylor as our winner. We received 45 entries! Great work, everyone. Here is S.P. Taylor’s story, I say Goodbye:

I say goodbye.

The sun warm on my face. The breeze gentle. Hard to believe that I will never return but determined not to. The funny thing, a spark of longing already. But why? The knowing. The everyday. Is it routine? I am not certain. A comfort, maybe? I couldn’t find the words if I tried. The reality of it all a blur. Dazed, as if I have just awoken from a dream. That moment of wakefulness clouded by the mystery of sleep. Oh, how I wanted to break free. A promise to myself. Get out of this one-horse town, I joked. Deep inside, I felt as if I was a caged bird on a tiny swing, looking out through the bars wanting desperately to fly. And now, here I am. Packing myself into the old Ford pickup. Rusty and broken yet chock-full of memories. Dreams too. I had many of them while sitting in the rackety front passenger side over the years. I watch the blue country house fade in the distance, almost mystical. The sun beating down so intensely, waves breaking the sky like a matrix or a time machine.

I say goodbye.

Memories flashing before my eyes. The winding road overcome with dust that could be sliced with a knife. How it chokes me. My breathing laboured. Responsibilities hounding from the recesses of my mind. Reminding me of my place. Where I belong. Who I should become. Yet I say goodbye and with that close my eyes. Drown out the noise of the critics who pollute my conscience. Those unkind words that stop a being from moving forward. Akin to fear. Is that not the driving force for everything? Fear? It can change your life in an instant. Guide you down a path you may not have otherwise taken. In my case, I chose to embrace it. But I am scared as hell.

I say goodbye.

A picture-perfect town with its window boxes and tiny white picket fences. How would life have fared if I had been born to one of them? Those perfect families with their 2.5 children and model cars. I still wish it even though here I am alive and different. So far removed. The church bell rings in the distance. A sad bong that resonates, lifting the hairs on my arm as my heart hums in return. Row upon row, we pass like a funeral procession. Slow motion. Do the houses whisper as we roll by? She won’t be back. She will never be back. One, of course, will cackle and say loudly, oh yes, she will. She can’t escape. She is born and bred to stay. To that one, I lift my chin in defiance. Just watch me. I promise to never set foot again. This sleepy town. Charming but not for me. Never for me. I walk alone. Distinct. Separate.

I say goodbye.

A side glance at the driver beside me. My champion. My other half. We shared a womb. Every milestone met together. The hardest part of leaving would be leaving him. He will take my place so that I can go. He will journey in what should be my life while I escape. Why should it be me? I ask myself. A million times a day, it seems. It should not be me, but he won’t go. The voices so hell-bent on having him stay. The responsibilities keeping him rooted. And so, his sacrifice is my freeing. The very thought makes me want to change my mind again. A hundred times, rehearsed, and over and over again, I say goodbye.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. It sounds so comical. I hate to say it out loud, but it is truth. When I say I have never stepped foot at the great station, I mean it full heartedly. I never once even set eyes my eyes in it. The towering walls, the great hall. A staple to the town. How can that be, you wonder? Well, If I told you I was sheltered, that would be a bit of an understatement. Another story, for another day. Another picture. For now, I focus on saying goodbye. I hear the trains in the distance pulling in with a whistle, leaving with a sigh. Oh, how I imagined them. The tracks bright with golden dreams calling. Egging onlookers to take a chance. A boy once died on those splendid tracks. Did his family think differently of them after? Did they ride the train out to the great big world still? Each time passing where their loved one fell. Where a life was stripped and taken.

I see smiling faces all about. If you watch closely, the energy buzzes with love. Like a bubble encompassing each person, protecting and warm. Hands holding, tight embraces, kissing. I linger on the kissing. Heat rising on my skin like I am witnessing something holy. Families, lovers, businessmen. They are everywhere. Passing others like ships in the night. I watch intently and imagine their thoughts. I feel all my life I have people watched. A silent narrative and I, a fly on the wall. Or perhaps I am better described as a bee. A busy worker bee never stopping. Always moving, not straying far. And yet, I am leaving the hive, albeit not with a swarm. Alone. How will I fair? No thoughts such as those, I tell myself. And my eyes search the crowds again, intent to soak it all in. Dreamlike, I scan the people, the busy. I catch a glimpse of sorrow. If I am careful and really strain to look, I see it clearly. Mommas saying goodbye to their sons. Sadness. Goodbyes are hard. This I know.

“All set,” he says gently, and the reality begins to settle. A heaviness in my heart as I gaze at the ticket in his hands. Somehow the noise stops. The people disappear. We are alone. His hands are rough and dirty, I notice, but I am not appalled. Young hands tainted with hard work and determination. No one could imagine the strength in those hands. They carry a body. The train ticket stark white, beckoning. Sunbeams break through the thick train station windows that are trimmed all around the building. I can see particles floating slowly, filling the space, and I feel faint. That moment just before you know you are going to fall. A panic settles in my bones, and I tremble. He touches my face and lifts it so that I am forced to look into his eyes. My eyes. And he whispers softly. I hardly hear it, but my mind translates. You got this. You. Got. This. With every fail, I heard that voice, those words. With every worry, they came swiftly. You got this, a whisper on the wind that would follow me everywhere I go.

I say goodbye.

And turn to walk away. Onto the train. Towards my future. If I could but only see what will become of me. My head held high, shoulders straight.

I say goodbye.

Thank you S.P. Taylor for this wonderful story. I hope you stepped out of your comfort zone and pushed the envelope on what you thought was possible for this photo and for yourself. If you’d like to read more of S.P. Taylor’s work click here: Acts of Kindness: Bakker, Lacey L ., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506240: Books – Amazon.ca

 

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