“You know, this isn’t very feminist of you, right?” Hannah says into my shoulder, her arms wrapped tightly around me.
I roll my eyes and say “yeah, I know.”
When Hannah releases me from the hug we’ve been in for the last five minutes, I can’t meet her eyes. Instead, I look down at my life that’s packed into an old white suitcase I found in the attic and laugh. When I was packing, I found a diary that contained a list of things I would never do. Putting my life on hold and running away with a man I’d known for just over six months wasn’t the first on the list, but it was high enough up that it shouldn’t have really been ignored. Yet here I am, standing outside the cottage Hannah and I have lived in for three years about to do just that. I’ve left the diary in the attic.
“I’m going to keep your room exactly the way it is, like a shrine. When you come back, it’ll be the exact same as it was when you left, I promise.”
I let out a sigh. “Hannah, you know I’m not planning on-”
“No, Lol,” She interrupts. “Please just don’t. Please don’t finish that sentence. I can’t hear it again.”
Hannah’s eyes had turned glassy. In all of the years I’d known her, I’d never seen Hannah cry. Not once. Not when she was told over the phone that her grandad had died, and not when the stray cat she’d adopted had to be put down She loved that cat so much, but when she left that room at the vets, no longer carrying him, you would have thought the cat meant nothing. She just smiled and said she gave him the best life he could ever ask for and that’s not something that she should be sad about. I never liked that bloody cat, he’d given me too many scars on my hands and wrists for us to ever be friends, but even I cried on the drive home.
But now looking at her biting the inside her cheek, it was the closest I’d ever come to seeing her actually cry. And it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach.
“I have to do this, Han,” I say, squeezing her hand.
“Yeah I know,” she manages a half-smile. “Just remember I’ll always be here. No matter what happens.”
I know that she’s implying that things with Michael aren’t going to work out,that I’ll be left in a pile of toxic misery like the last two. But it feels different this time, like if I don’t go with him, I might die. That thought both excites and terrifies me.
“Here,” she says, handing me a folded-up piece of paper. “It’s a playlist. For the journey.”
“You know, it would’ve been a lot easier if you just made it on Spotify for me.”
“Yeah, but that isn’t as poetic.” She grins. I don’t open it right away, instead, I put it in my back pocket to save it for the train. That way she’ll be with me for longer. A text message on my phone signals that my taxi has arrived, but I can’t bring myself to stop looking at Hannah, let alone walk away. Hannah has the type of face that you wouldn’t forget. Bold cheekbones, huge blue eyes that a guy at the bar once said were like sirens. He was a struggling writer. We both laughed off the comment at the time, but now I know exactly what he meant. I couldn’t look away.
I took a deep breath in and said: “I guess this is it.” My voice cracked and crumbled under the weight of trying to be the strong one when that was never my job.
Hannah pulled me into another hug, and it felt different than the one before. This really felt like the last one. The last bone-crushing hug. I cry into her hair over the thought of not knowing when the next time I see her will be. Not being with Michael feels like the life is slowly being sucked out of me, but leaving Hannah feels like my heart is being ripped out from my chest.
“Send me postcards. As many as you can. I want one from every place that you go.” Her muffled voice says.
“I promise,” I say.
We can’t bring ourselves to say goodbye, instead we wave at each other as I walk down the gravel pathway with my suitcase dragging behind me. I try not to let on that this is the hardest walk I’ve ever had to do like I’m walking through treacle or there are hands around my ankles trying to stop me from going. And when I lose sight of Hannah behind the overgrown hedge, it feels like I’m drowning. The taxi driver takes my suitcase and puts it in the boot of his car, commenting on how heavy it is and how he wishes he was going on holiday. A half-arsed laugh is all I can muster as I force myself to open the car door. My arms feel heavy. When I shut the door, there’s a sudden surge of silence that hits me like a tidal wave. It isn’t too late to turn back. It isn’t too late to run back into Hannah’s arms, into our cottage that gets too cold in winter. It’s not too late for the middle of the week wine nights, laughing at absolutely nothing. It’s not too late to make another pillow fort when the power goes down, or for another horror film marathon that ends in us having to share a bed. It isn’t too late.
“Where to?” The driver asks. I didn’t even notice him get in. I look out of the window towards my house and wonder if Hannah is still outside, waiting for the taxi to pull away. Is she waiting for me to come back? Is she waiting for me to come running up the pathway saying I couldn’t do it? My hand hovers over the door handle.
But then I think of Michael. And his laugh. And all of the afternoon phone calls that would end at 3 am which will soon become pillow talk. I think of all of the places we plan on going, how he says the world is so much bigger and brighter than a small little village in the south of England. That we could see everything, together, if I wanted.
“Erm, train station please,” I say, my voice dry and breathy. As he pulls off down the street, I stop fighting the tears trying to escape my eyes. I let them fall, and I feel them. I feel every single one of them. I let myself remember me and Hannah struggling to get the second-hand furniture through the tiny front door. I remember all of the screams when we found a spider crawling on the wall. I remember our Sunday afternoon baking which would always go wrong. I remember the fights, even the really bad ones. I let each memory fall with every tear, knowing that I’ve left two parts of my heart behind. One part that will always be living in the walls of that house, and the other that will always be with her.
When I first met Michael in a random pub in the middle of the nearby city six months ago, I didn’t believe him when he told me he was a pilot. I even laughed at him. I’d met a lot of doctors, actors, models in back alley pubs on the rough side of the city, and none of them had any truth to them. This seemed like just another lie to get into a woman’s underwear, and I’d fallen for it too many times in the past to be anything but skeptical.
“Hey, Lola did you hear that my new friend Michael here is a pilot?” Hannah said to me when I came back from the bathroom to find a random guy in my seat. She was giving me that ‘can you believe this guy’ look over the rim of her glass.
“Oh, a pilot huh?” I said, pulling up a spare chair from the table next to me. “That’s a new one.”
“No, seriously!” He said, smiling. The first thing I noticed about him was that his teeth were really white. Like white white. The kind of white that costs hundreds of pounds to get. The second thing I noticed about him was that he definitely wasn’t from around here. Hannah and I knew this part of the city very well, too well, and guys who looked like that did not come to places like this. Everything about him screamed expensive.
“Oh, I totally believe you. I don’t think that it’s a line to get women at all.”
“That’s very bold of you to think I’d make up a job title just to talk to you,” he smiled, his teeth almost glowing. “Besides, if I were going to make up a job, it would be something much more appealing than a pilot. Like an actor or a writer, or something that means I won’t spend a lot of time working. At least then I’d actually get to spend time with you.”
“I mean, you definitely have a point,” I said, taking a sip of my drink. “But I still don’t believe you.”
“What will it take to get you to believe me? I could show you my plane.”
“At least invite me to dinner first.” I said
“Great, set a time and a place.”
We only locked eyes for a couple of seconds, but it only took that one look to realise I was totally fucked.
“I’m Lola,” I said, holding out my hand for him to shake.
“Michael,” he said, taking it. My skin buzzed.
“And I’m going to get another drink,” Hannah said, giving me a wink to let me know that she was okay. This was our routine. If we shook someone’s hand, it was game on and that was the queue for the other to go off and make friends. Hannah was always better at it than me, and that night she spent it with three rugby players who adored her enough to not leave her alone for three months.
“So tell me,” I said. “What’s life like being a pilot?”
We talked until the bartender told us that it was time for closing. I could tell that neither of us wanted to go, but it didn’t feel right to invite him back to my place. This felt so much more and so much bigger than that. Like I somehow knew that we would have the rest of our lives.
“How are you getting home?” He asked after a while of both of us saying nothing.
“Let me walk you there?”
The night was cold, even under my jacket. I felt like I’d failed Hannah because I really wanted him to put his arms around me and she would’ve said it was the patriarchy making me say that. But I really wanted to, my whole body was aching for him to but he didn’t.
He later told me that he wanted to, but wanted to be respectful.
“When are you next in town?” I asked.
“I wish I knew,” he said. “Let me take your number and I’ll give you a call when I am?” For some reason, I really liked that he said he would call me instead of text me.
“Sure,” I said, taking his phone and punching in my number.
Once we reached the taxi rank, we faced each other, staring awkwardly waiting for the other to make the first move.
“So,” he said.
“So,” I repeated.
“I guess I’ll see you around then?” I said.
“Yeah,” he said and pulled me awkwardly into a hug. I tried not to make it too obvious that I was taking in his scent, trying to savour every last bit of it in hopes that I wouldn’t forget.
When I got into the taxi and waved goodbye, he called me a minute later and said: “I just wanted to hear your voice again.”
Standing on the platform waiting for the train to arrive, everything suddenly felt really huge. My whole life is about to change and all I have to show for it is this suitcase. Is this really everything that I own? It doesn’t seem like much for twenty-three years. There’s a strange mix of excitement and nerves doing the waltz in my stomach which makes the normality around me seem completely wrong. There’s a man sitting on a bench reading a book who hasn’t so much as looked in my direction since I arrived. But why would he? I’m just another person on a platform to him. He’s oblivious and, more than likely doesn’t really care. My knuckles ache from how much I’ve been cracking them. Hannah tells me off for doing it, saying the noise makes her sick. Well, she used to tell me off anyway.
I put thoughts of Hannah on ice, for now, pick up my suitcase and go for a little walk up and down the platform. The heels of my shoes echo with every step and are obnoxiously loud. But I need to keep moving because staying still gives me a chance to think, to really think about this whole thing. And it’s better if I don’t.
The train pulls into the station and I pick up my suitcase, fighting the tiny voice in my head to turn around and go back. Instead, I put one foot in front of the other and step onto the train. The air con immediately hits me, sending goosebumps up my arms but I don’t mind it. It’s nice to feel something other than sick to the stomach. I find an empty seat, take out my phone and text Michael to let him know I’m on the train. I wait until he sends me back a love heart emoji before I put it back in my bag. I let out a sigh and look out the window at the platform. I remember getting off the train for the first time when Hannah and I moved into the cottage.
“It’s so quiet,” Hannah whispered when the train pulled away.
“Yeah, it’s nice!,” I said. “Beats living in the uni halls and waking up to rhythmic thumping from upstairs every night!”
“True, you have a point there.”
When Hannah told me she wanted to move out to the countryside after we’d graduated, I didn’t believe her. I always pictured Hannah as a city girl, nesting in coffee shops to work during the day and going to a different bar every night. Never, not once did it cross my mind that she would want to live in the middle of nowhere twenty minutes drive away from the nearest town.
“Yeah, but you want to,” she said when I told her. “I want to do life with you.”
Turned out, she adapted to country life better than I did. She even started growing her own vegetables in the back garden.
Yes, I remember that first day very well. Now I’m not sure when the next time I’ll see this platform is. Maybe not ever, but that thought creates a lump in my throat that is almost impossible to swallow down. I remember the playlist that Hannah made me that’s shoved into my pocket and I take it out. As soon as I read the first song, I let myself cry again because there’s no way I’d never be able to hold myself back. I realise that every song on it is special to us in some way. Can’t Help Falling in Love, the song which I’ve always sworn will be my wedding dance song. Hi Ho Silver Lining, which we played non-stop when Hannah got her heart broken for the third, and worst, time. B-A-B-Y, which we played as we were unpacking the living room. I wiped my cheeks, hoping the guy in the seat across from me doesn’t notice. He shifts uncomfortably but doesn’t say anything. Thank god. I put my earphones in my ears and add all of the songs into a playlist. I press play on the first song and smile as I pull away from the station.
It was raining by the time I arrived at the hotel and I have to hold the suitcase above my head to protect my hair as I run into the reception. The yellow lighting makes the whole place look rather unwelcoming. And it is quiet. So, so quiet. The dim piano music playing in the background makes it seem lonely and empty, even though there is a woman at the bar hunched over a glass of something which looks strong.
“Hi Miss, can I help you?” A voice to my right says. I turn to see a smiling face back at me, the kind of smile which looks robotic.
“Erm, yes. I’m checking in for one night.” I say, making my way over to the reception desk.
“And what’s the name?” She says, typing on her keyboard.
“It’s Lola Johnson,” I say.
I make a mental note of the name on her name tag. Joyce. She hands me a key card and directs me to the hotel rooms which are across the carpark. I thank her and she says “I hope you enjoy your stay.” But I don’t think she really means it.
The room, as all hotel rooms are, is hot and stuffy when I enter it. I turn the heating all the way down and allow myself to collapse onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling. The bed is hard and there’s water damage on the ceiling but I guess you get what you pay for. I take out my phone and dial Michael’s number but it rings straight to voicemail. I frown, try again but the same thing happens. It’s fine. He’s probably driving. I text Hannah to let her know I’ve arrived and look out of the window watching the rainfall. I promised Hannah I’d take photos, but judging by the grey sky and the rain hammering on the window, that isn’t going to happen. At least not yet. If she was here she would drag me out anyway, saying that everyone needs to enjoy getting soaked in the rain at least once in their lives. I remember the day she made us go and have a picnic by the lake just because ‘a little rain never hurt nobody’ (said in a bad American accent). It did give us both really bad colds the next day, but that day is one of my favourite memories. But this time Hannah isn’t here, so instead of pulling out my Polaroid camera I take out a book instead.
Two hours later the rain has stopped. I take out my phone again. No message from Michael, but a notification from Hannah tagging me in a cat photo. I smile and like it before texting Michael asking where he is. Everything feels very quiet and very still, but there’s a buzzing in the air like something is about to happen. And I feel restless, unable to find a comfortable position. It feels a bit like a ‘what now?’ moment. Like I’m just waiting for something to happen, but for now, there is nothing. I check my phone again, still no text. It’s only been a couple of minutes anyway. And he could be driving. It’s not a big deal. I get up off the bed and start pacing up and down. My stomach feels jittery. Why am I nervous? I have no reason to be nervous, right? It’s just all of this sitting around and not doing anything. It’s the same feeling I had the day he asked me to move away with him. I felt like I was falling, but not in the scary kind of way. The kind of fall where you know someone is going to catch you.
“Are you sure? You don’t think it’s too soon?” I said, trying to stop my hands from shaking.
“I can’t explain it, Lola. But as soon as I met you I just knew. It’s stupid, I know…”
“It’s not stupid,” I said.
“I just know in my gut that this is what I want. Isn’t this what you want too?”
“Of course it is. I just don’t know whether it’s too soon or not…”
“Lola, we know we are going to spend the rest of our lives together, so why wait?”
Why wait. Funny how now that is exactly what I’m doing. I’m just being paranoid, I know. I knew I was going to have to wait a little while, it’s fine. I decide to get out of the room and go around the hotel for a while. At least then I don’t have to pace.
7 pm. 4 hours late. Rang his phone five times, but still no answer. His phone has died. Or it’s lost. He’s probably stuck in traffic. Or his car has broken down. Or a combination of both. Are the excuses that keep on whirling round and round in my head. But that’s all they really are. Excuses.
I swirl the ice around in my third cup of lemonade and check my phone for the fifth time this minute. Still nothing. My chest tightens with every breath. What if he had actually got into trouble? What could I do? Just wait for a hospital call? It’s not like I could turn up at his house. I don’t know his address.
“Are you doing okay, Miss?” The bartender asks me. To be honest, I’m surprised he hasn’t asked me sooner. I’d consecutively ordered three lemonades whilst sitting on my own. That’s not exactly something a normal person would do.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I say but the bartender raises one eyebrow at me, pressing for more. “Someone is just running a little… late. That’s all” I say finishing off my glass and biting into an ice cube. The cold makes my teeth hurt, but it’s nice to feel something else other than this intense anxiety.
“Ah,” he says, going back to cleaning his glass.
“Ah?” I say. “What’s ah? What does ah mean?”
“Well, not to cause any offense Miss but you might have been stood up.”
Stood up. Ha! I scoffed. There’s no way. “No, he’s just running late. We’re moving away together.”
He gives me a straight smile. “Well, I’m sure he’ll be here soon.”
It hasn’t really crossed my mind that he could potentially not show up. My heart sinks at this realisation and I feel like kicking myself for being so naïve. But he wouldn’t do that, would he? Not after all of the promises, all of the plans we made. Not after the life, we want to build together. No one is capable of being that cruel, are they?
“Another lemonade?” He asks, gesturing towards my empty glass.
“No,” I say. “Give me something stronger.”
“That’s more like it.”
About a month into mine and Michael’s relationship, he decided that we should both cut down on drinking. That it wasn’t really good for our livers. I didn’t really drink that much anyway so it didn’t seem like a huge deal, and it never crossed my mind as to why I needed to cut down on drinking when I hardly ever saw him. Hannah called him a prick at the time, and it’s only now that I’m starting to believe it. Only a little bit though.
“Who is it you’re waiting for?” The barman asks as he hands me a glass of something dark and ominous looking. I take a sip of it and try not to look as if it’s burning as it goes down my throat. Hannah would call this battery acid.
“My boyfriend,” I say trying to make my voice sound normal but failing miserably. “We’re moving away together.”
“Cool, where are you going?”
I open my mouth to answer but then I realise that I don’t actually know. How could I not know where I was moving to? How did this not cross my mind before? When Michael said that we should finally just run away and move together, I immediately said ‘okay’ and that was that. I guess we didn’t really care where we were going, as long as we were with each other. All that matters is that it’s somewhere right? Isn’t that better than being nowhere?
“Oh, it’s, er, it’s a surprise,” I say, avoiding his eye contact.
“Wow, you must really trust him.”
I think about his statement for a minute. Did I really trust him? I suppose I must, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have left everything I knew behind. I wouldn’t have put my faith in him. Of course, I trust him, of course, I do because I still believe he’s going to walk through those doors explaining what happened, well kiss and all be fine. But the sky is getting dark and it’s looking a lot less likely.
“Yeah,” I say. “I do.”
The bartender opens his mouth the says something but the sound of my phone vibrating on the bar interrupts him. I see that the caller ID says Michael, and it’s like my body moves faster than my brain as I’ve suddenly been hit with a serious jolt of electricity. My hands shake trying to pick up the phone, and whatever this drink is threatening to come back up.
I put my phone to my ear and walk away from the bar. “Hello? Michael? Are you okay? What’s happened? I’m here, where the hell are you?”
The other line is silent for a moment, just the faint sound of his breathing.
“Michael?” I say. He lets out a sigh, and at that moment my heart sinks hard and fast. I have to steady myself against a wall to stop myself from falling to the floor.
“Michael?” I say, trying to make my voice sound steady.
“I’m sorry, Lola. I can’t.”
I bite my lip to try and stop myself from crying. To silence myself. But the tears are streaming out of eyes and for the first time in my life, I feel completely helpless.
“Wha- what do you mean you can’t?” I say.
“I mean I can’t do it, this, it’s just too much. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“I’m literally here Michael. I’m here waiting for you and you can’t even show up to tell me this in person?”
“I thought that it would be too hard for you.”
“Too hard for me? And you thought leaving me in the dark all day and messaging me four hours after you’re meant to show up would be easier?”
“I don’t know Lola, I don’t know. I just can’t do this.”
I feel my nails pierce the skin of my palms. The air around is me is starting to feel heavy, like it could crush me any second. I try to steady my breathing, but it only makes it harder.
“Lola? Lola are you there?” I hear his voice say.
“Hannah was right,” I say. “You really are a prick.”
I don’t wait to hear his response before I hang up the phone.
When people talk about heartbreak they talk about how it feels like your suffocating. Like nothing no longer makes sense. That you can’t think of anything which would possibly make this any better. That there isn’t a way out from this.
I used to think that the women in the films were being overdramatic. That no one should have that much power over you. That going and hiding in your bed watching romantic comedies and eating ice cream was pathetic and didn’t actually help anything.
But what I’m feeling now waking up the next morning is bone-crushing. No one talks about the indescribable loneliness. And I feel completely stupid. How could I have been so stupid? Following a man I’d known for such a short period of time into the unknown sounds completely crazy on paper, and if someone told me that’s what they would doing I’d wish them luck because they were seriously going to need it. But it felt so right at the time. Not a single cell of my body questioned what I was doing and that’s the worst part. I turned into the naive little girl I promised myself I’d buried years ago.
I can tell my eyes are puffy and red when I look around the room. My suitcase remains unpacked on the desk. I didn’t even get changed out of my clothes from the day before. I check the time. 9am. I’m meant to be checking out in four hours and I have absolutely no plan. How could a person just leave someone they said that they loved? I try to push thoughts of Michael to the back of my mind, he clearly doesn’t deserve to be in them, but it’s hard when I was supposed to be waking up with him beside me this morning. The whole room feels empty and cold, like I shouldn’t be in it.
I think of Hannah and how she has no idea what’s going on. I pull out my phone and text her.
‘He isn’t coming. I’m okay. For now.’
A few minutes later she calls me but I ignore it. I don’t feel like talking to anyone. I just want to get out of this room. Out of the stuffiness. I take my Polaroid camera and head out to explore the hotel. It’s not like I have anywhere to be. As I get into the hallway, it suddenly dawns on me that I have no idea what I’m supposed to do anymore. The plan was I meet with Michael and then we head off and live happily ever after. But that’s been ripped away from me and now there’s just a massive blank space. I never thought about what would happen if he didn’t show which only makes me feel more stupid. I should’ve had a backup plan. I shouldn’t have been so naive, I should’ve thought about this decision more.
Or, he should’ve just showed up.
My heels echo through the hallway. I could always go back home. Back to my life with Hannah, back to the cottage and late-night movie marathons and our own little karaoke nights. Hannah would greet me at the door with open arms, a bottle of vodka in one hand, and a tub of ice cream in the other. I can see it now. She would hug me, tell me everything is okay and that I don’t need him. She wouldn’t say I told you so, even though she definitely wants to. And I would be sad for a little while, curled up in bed unable to find the mental strength to get up. Maybe it would be longer than a week, maybe Hannah would try and take me on a night out and I’d hate it. I could see it so clearly.
But did I really want to go back? Did I really want to go back to a life of being comfortable? Why did I decide to get up and leave so quickly in the first place? There’s a lot of questions running around in my head and I don’t have answers for any of them and I have a headache.
Even though the ground is still damp outside, the sun was shining. It smells like wet grass and it reminds me of the cottage. I snap a few photos of the building, of the family of ducks that seem more friendly than they should be, and the planes parked in the airfield across the gate.
Michael used to fly planes.
No, I shake thoughts of him to the back of my mind. I can’t cry anymore, I just can’t.
I check my phone and see that I have a voicemail, probably from Hannah, judging by the eleven missed calls I have from her. I don’t bother listening to it and I ring her straight back inside.
“Thank god!” She shouts down the phone. “I was getting worried, what the hell happened? Are you okay?”
I swallow hard. “I don’t know, Hannah, I don’t know, he just rang me four hours later and said he couldn’t do this anymore.” My voice is shaky and uneasy. The lump in the back of my throat is making me feel sick.
“Oh my God, what a fucking arsehole. I’m going to kill him, Lola, I swear to God. Do you know why? Did he explain?”
“Han, I really don’t, I can’t talk about it. I’m barely keeping it together and I’m really trying not to think about it right now.”
“Okay, that’s fine, that’s fine. Whatever you need.”
Neither of us say anything for a while, just listen to the sound of the steady rhythm of each other’s breathing. Somehow, listening to Hannah’s calms mine down. I think what we’re doing now is the technology equivalent of a hug.
“When are you coming home?” She asks after a while.
I let out a sigh. “I don’t know if I’m coming home.”
“What do you mean you don’t know if you’re coming home? Lola, what are you saying?”
“I don’t know Han, I literally don’t know about anything anymore. I just know that I don’t want to come home and wallow. I don’t want to come home, get my old job back and have everything go back to normal. I don’t want that. I just need to be away for a while.”
“And where exactly are you planning on going?”
“That’s the fun of it, right? It’s not like I knew where I was going anyway. Michael didn’t tell me.” I said. “I don’t know. I just need to be away for a while. Do something.”
Hannah’s breathing becomes harder, she does that when she’s thinking. I try to imagine what she’s going to say, whether she’s going to blow up, break down, shout, scream, cry. I really have no idea.
“How fast can you get to the airport?” She says.
“I said, how fast can you get to the airport.”
“Yeah, I know I heard you the first time but what?”
“You said you needed to get away, so I’m coming with you.”
“Hannah that’s crazy,” I say.
“So’s running off with a man you hardly knew.”
“well, that’s a bit too soon,” I say, feeling a twinge in my chest. “And anyway, look how that turned out.”
“Lol, we’re made of stronger stuff than that,” she says. “So, when can you be at the airport?”
“Jheez, Hannah. I don’t know, maybe four hours.”
“Great, I’ll meet you there.”
Before I could argue, she hangs up the phone. I try to stop a smile creeping across my face, but I can’t. Was this really that much crazier than what I’ve already done? Probably not. Before I can talk myself out of it, I head back up to the room.
I grab my untouched suitcase and turn back to look at the room and somehow it feels like a weight has just been dropped in my chest. This feels like a goodbye to him. Goodbye to Michael. To all of the plans that were made but never happened. To all of the promises that were never kept. To all of the secrets, I shared but can never take back. Once I close this door, that is it. The final piece of him in my life gone like he has vanished or was never there in the first place.
“Lola, you can do this,” I whisper to myself as I close the door more slowly than I should. I don’t hang back when it’s closed and I don’t turn back as I walk down the hallway. Instead, I smile and hand the keys to the receptionist, and when the taxi driver asks, “where to?” I say the airport without giving it another thought.