• M. L. Watson

She Thought About Leaving

Updated: Mar 27

She thought about leaving. Her feet crunched on the gravel path that stretched out before her. It seemed to carry on forever, bound to no end, her fellow walkers destined to vanish into the fog that should have marked the end of the path. It didn’t. Where trees, birds and buildings faded to grey, the gravel remained, a thick brown stripe leading to nowhere. Or somewhere.

She thought about leaving. It could be easy. A bus ticket that hovered in trembling fingers, a rattling train carriage that wobbled her skin and throbbed at her skull. A new name, a new voice. The battlements of the old castle mark the edge of the fog, rising above it in moss-covered ridges. She once visited the place on a school trip, when she was five, she believed. She learnt the function of the portcullis and the arrow holes. At the time, she had been grateful she was born later, in a time of glass windows and central heating, as a shiver cut through her bones.

Now, though, she wasn’t so sure.

She’d come to a halt, the fog so close she could taste the chalkiness on her tongue. People pushed around her, grumbling as they jostled at her elbows, their objections and ‘excuse me’ s words for somebody else’s ears. She stared at her hands. Red, the skin flaking, knuckles cut through in mismatched splits that bled when she clenched her fists. She hoped the blood was her own.

She took a step, and a gust of wind glued strands of hair to her lips. She owned a blue duffle coat that hung on the first peg inside the porch. She hadn’t thought to grab it in her hurry to leave, and her thin sweatshirt was full of holes that welcomed the cool air. The sleeves were frayed, marked up from tugs and blows, the cotton crusty with dried tears.

She thought about leaving, and the thought grew comfort in its familiarity. She had always thought about leaving, and always known why she could not. No money, no friends and no place to go. He would always follow in shadows. A blackbird fluttered past, so close she felt its wings brush her cheek. She pressed her fingertips against the mark it had left, preserving the touch of its feathers to her memory.

She thought about leaving, but the thought was already lost. They would soon find him and lies were all foreign to her. So, she stood, and she stared, until the fog swelled within her, and the sky was smoke and dust. And, once more-

She thought about leaving.

Born in 2000, M. L. Watson is a writer based in the Yorkshire Dales. Her work has been published by Ellipsis Zine Magazine and is forthcoming in ‘Tales of the Supernatural’ at Otranto House. You can find her on Twitter @MLWatson_Writer

Header is by Ilona Panych @ we_are_details