Do Not Go Walking Alone

A short story by Elizabeth Lovatt on walking through a city – and through other people's lives.

by Elizabeth Lovatt

Too many weekends in a row I have taken myself off for a walk around the city alone. It is hard to see other people about in pairs, clutching at each other, or families with their children scattered in front of them. It’s not so much the company that I miss – but the sense of purpose they all carry with them. I wander with no aim. Even people alone with a dog walk for a reason. I walk through greying parks and drab streets because it’s better than staying at home.

But the thing is an experience is only an experience if it’s shared – a story you tell of your weekend at work on Monday. I have no reason to be out – I could keep this whole walk and the things I have seen a secret and no-one would know any different. It should be liberating. The anonymity of myself is a burden I do not wish to bear.

The hours spent in silence have stretched my sense of self so that I think I might snap and forget who I am. My voice has dried up in my throat from lack of use, my feet move against my will, pushing me onwards to an unknown destination. I feel like lightning forking to earth – caught in a sudden flash, sending out many licks of light like limbs seeking in the dark – probing at the possibilities, but all hurtling towards the ground.

I see myself through the eyes of the other walkers – a girl out on her own walking in circles around herself. I will not register in the tales they will tell of their weekend at the park.

Today I am not even a coda in someone else’s story.

Elizabeth’s flash fiction and short stories have been featured as part of National Flash Fiction Day 2015 and in the upcoming issues of Halo Lit Mag and Severine Literary Journal. Elizabeth currently lives in London and works for Tate making postcards and prints.