by Molly Whyte
What would it take for her to get away? Two weeks? Four? She would need to find cheap flights, get the time off work, pack . . . The list in Ella’s head became impossibly long as she crossed the road and stepped heavily on to the curb.
Her regular route took her past the used appliance shop, fried chicken franchise and seven buses jostling for space in one narrow lane. A few commuters were snoozing, faces pressed against the windows. Perhaps it had been that kind of day for everyone.
Taking a sharp right, Ella almost collided with a woman pushing a luxury buggy. She apologised quickly and quietly, sidestepping both buggy and a set of industrial bins to continue down the path.
Is this where I want to be? That seemed too big a question for 5:45pm on a Wednesday in June, when sunny skies had given way to flat grey clouds. She didn’t want to trudge through this time of her life under the weight of youthful expectations. Three years ago her vision of city living was full of parties, film screenings, foreign affairs. The closest she had got to that last one was with an Australian on his gap year.
After ten minutes winding her way through dusty residential streets and five walking up the steep hill that seemed to mock her tired feet daily, Ella paused. There was an understated comfort in fitting somewhere in the middle, she decided.
“Is this where I want to be? That seemed too big a question for 5:45pm on a Wednesday in June, when sunny skies had given way to flat grey clouds.”
She may not be eating at top restaurants, but she knew exactly when to arrive at Itsu to get half price noodles at the end of the day. Though she hadn’t found work that made her jump out of bed in the morning, she had friendly colleagues and decent benefits. And while she was definitely nowhere near needing a luxury buggy of her own, a few Tinder prospects looked promising. She had Fergus, too. He would be another thing to sort on the list, unless EasyJet lets cats in Economy.
During the final stretch towards home, Ella decided that this average Wednesday wouldn’t mark the start of some extravagant life change. She approached her front door, painted a tasteful forest green after a long email thread with her landlord. As she stepped inside, the weight of the day lifted and she knew she could make this work for a while.
Molly is a communications specialist, MA student and writer. She shares personal essays, short stories, poetry and more on her blog.