10.21.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo by Michael Putnam
Photo by Michael Putnam

October 21, 2014: He left work early.

One Reply to “10.21.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. You read about it sometimes. How a guy just walks out on his whole life, suddenly, for no reason that anyone knows. Just walks out and never comes back. And there’s a wife and kids that he leaves behind, and it makes no sense, and so the world thinks him mad. Maybe he’s suffered a breakdown, they say. Or he’s somehow weak and not what he appeared to be.

    That’s what they’ll say of me. I’ll be an easy headline and there’ll be reports of sightings handed to police and a file kept and added to from time to time. And then nothing more than a footnote in the lives of the people I’ve left.

    But it’s never that simple. The story can never be quite so black or white, never quite reducible to three columns of throw-away print. We’re talking about a life here. There’s always more to it than you can ever know. Always.

    I left work early today. It wasn’t anything planned. I just left and walked with no aim along busy streets, my hands thrust into my pockets and my jacket collar turned up against the small wind and my hat pressed down on my head. I don’t know what I was thinking, or if I was thinking at all. I was just walking and not knowing where the streets were taking me.

    Then, and it seemed to make total sense, I was standing in a queue at the bus station, waiting to buy a ticket. It wasn’t like I was mad or like I was someone broken inside. Indeed, everything about the day felt logical and reasoned. I bought a ticket to somewhere and then got on the waiting bus.

    ‘People don’t do that. Not for no reason.’

    I recall a journey my father made once and he took me with him. We were in the car, a blue Ford Cortina that was his pride and joy. I had no idea where we were going and I didn’t need to know. I was just happy sitting in the front seat up beside my father. Then he stopped the car and consulted a map. He swore, and not under his breath like he usually did. He said he’d taken a wrong turning and we were not where he wanted us to be. He looked at me and he shrugged.

    ‘No point in continuing along this road,’ he said.

    That’s all I remember. Nothing about what happened after that or if we ever got to where we were supposed to be. Just being lost and my father saying there was no point in continuing along the same road because that road was only taking us further away from where we were headed, or where he wanted us to be.

    It made sense to me. Somehow. And maybe that makes sense of what I am doing. And thing is, I don’t really understand why more people don’t do the same. My father and my mother, and they stayed together till the end. ‘The bitter end,’ my mother said sometimes, and that ‘bitter’ made no sense. So I asked her one day – I asked her why she stayed and why he stayed, my father. She didn’t have an answer. That seems mad to me, but they don’t cover that in any newspapers.

    So, I left work early today, and I got on a bus to anywhere, and I didn’t look over my shoulder once and that felt perfectly reasonable and good. No point in continuing along a road that was only taking me further from where I wanted to be. If there was anything mad in all of this, it’s that I wasn’t too sure of where it was exactly that I wanted to be. I reckon I’ll know when I get there.

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