This is a short excerpt taken from the title story from my collection The Journey. It's not a metaphor but a story based on a journey I might have taken had life followed a different path. It is part fact and part fiction. Some people wrong others. Some people have to pay....
The December sunshine slants straight in through my windscreen as I turn the key in the ignition. I’ll be heading west so I suppose it will sear into my eyes until it sinks below the horizon, then the resulting sunset will brighten my journey and add to the suffusion in my soul as I savour the purpose of my impending visit. I am exacting retribution. I don’t consider myself evil or vindictive but this scab has been picked at at every milestone in my life. I was robbed and someone has to pay.
I have made every preparation for this; no I is left undotted, no T left uncrossed, right down to my physical appearance. I’ve been to have my roots done to blend away the grey and keep the dark colour, as those morons will remember me. I don’t want them to mistake who I am for a second. My eyebrows are shaped, my clothes crisp, most important to look the part when the shock registers on their faces.
Children are coming out of school, laden with Christmas decorations created by their own tiny hands and there is an excitement in the air as they are now on a four day countdown to hanging up their stockings. The traffic is heavy as I intersperse with the school run. After that I might make good progress for a while until the rush hour starts. A stupid time to travel I know but I want my arrival timed to achieve maximum impact, a sadistic bedtime story.
I don’t like to think I’ve allowed the issue to fester and rot away my peace of mind but I suppose it must have done to some extent. I believe in being fair, each person having what they deserve, what they’ve worked for – what is their birthright. I was denied mine.
I’ve left the village on the North East coast that has been my home for many years behind me and I’m heading for the motorway, well the A road first, a dual carriageway; it’ll be about an hour before I reach the M62 which will take me in a South-westerly direction. My destination is The Midlands, Newcastle under Lyme where I grew up.
It could never be said that my childhood had been unhappy, quite the contrary. I don’t suppose any marriage is perfect but to my child’s eyes my parents’ was. They were in tune; each personality balanced the other. My father was easily irritated, had an effervescent temper, but just like an exploding soda bottle his fiery fizz soon calmed as it flowed into the placid waters of my mother’s gentle nature. In turn, she would worry about any tiny detail.
“If two flies are crawling up the wall your mother will worry about which one will get to the top first,” my father always told me.
His take-it-or-leave-it attitude counteracted her worries and he was able to rationalise them. Their characters complimented each other. I knew nothing of soulmates at the tender age of ten – indeed I have never met mine – but I understand it to mean now that two souls are one half of the other and they are only complete when they are together.
Soulmates. I ponder on them as I negotiate a roundabout. I would love to have found mine. My marriage was based on physical attraction. John was the man I wanted at the time and for a few years we were happy. We had two fine sons, now grown and flown but our marriage crumbled long ago. I will not be controlled by anyone. Maybe some people are happy with that but I couldn’t accept it. When I was contemplating divorce I was given a piece of sound advice.
“I’d rather be on my own than with someone I don’t want to be with.”
I acted upon those words and they stay with me to this day.
Maybe I’ll find my soulmate in the next world. Some people believe we live through many lifetimes on this earth. Some believe that in each lifetime we find our soulmate and travel these lives together as twin flames, or is your twin flame the one you meet in your last earthly life? I don’t know, or what I think of it. It would be a pleasant thought I suppose, but my mind has wandered from its purpose.
The earth has turned and the sun has left our Northern Hemisphere for this day. The sky is streaked with lavender clouds and outside the warmth of the car I know there will be a chill in the early evening air. Snow has been forecast overnight but I will be in a comfortable hotel by then. No immediate need to travel back home tomorrow, as long as I am back to spend Christmas with my boys and their families. I have a Christmas present of my own to deliver first and that little flicker of satisfaction slumbering within me becomes a flame and a smile touches my lips in the darkness. Subconsciously my hand finds its way to the inside jacket pocket of my smart work suit and gently, fondly caresses the envelope nestled there, close to my heart. I press the accelerator pedal and join the motorway.....