Postpartum Travel

She sat on the couch, her legs folded underneath her, her hands clasped in her lap. Her face had fallen in on itself, like a sinkhole in a normally, secure stretch of pavement. Her blonde hair was short and straight and usually gave her a luminescent quality. Now it looked slightly dirty and tinged with a brassy hue.

The couch was large and brown. Sitting atop its plush cushions, she felt small. For once. On an average day, she would unconsciously run her hands over her slightly softened stomach as she reminded herself to suck it in. She was tall and felt bigger than the average person. Perhaps it was her thoughts that were so large in her mind that gave her a weighted, dense feeling. But for now – she felt small, childlike on too large of a piece of furniture.

Perhaps she was physically reduced to the size of her mind and, right now, her thoughts felt small. They felt so small, she wondered if they were missing, escaped her head or leaked out of her somehow. She felt hollow. The only thing that reminded her of being alive was the jarring rise and fall of her breast over bone. It felt like work: hard, strenuous labor to permit the oxygen to enter her unwilling lungs. Life was raping her body.

Her grey eyes were unfocused, pointed at the direction of a washed-out, yellowish wall. There was a dark smudge on its surface.

Perhaps a hand, she thought.

With a razorblade sigh, she lowered her eyes to the ground. Before her were two, large, bright blue suitcases, filled to capacity with her former life. A life of adventure. New and exciting people. A life that had been led by her rules, her schedule, her feelings, her time. A life where nothing hurt or was too much of a burden.

As two people began to scream profanities at one another on the broken and littered sidewalk outside, she recalled how the light glistened on the surface of the Italian lakes and how angelic the snow looked on the top of The Alps. How the Sacre-Coeur ruled, sitting atop its throne in Montmartre. How the world had opened up before her as she walked the circuses of London or looked out to sea in Wales or climbed aboard a plane in Frankfurt.

As her eyes drank in the sight of the two pieces of luggage, she recalled the feeling of completeness every time another page of her passport was stamped. She had felt full. Whole. Divine. Everything had synced in perfect unison. For the very first time in her life, all things had aligned themselves to perfection. She was where she needed to be and it was as if the world had opened up to greet her. As it wrapped it’s comforting arms around her, it whispered: You are where you need to be. You belong. Welcome.

The screaming outside persisted. This environment reverberated with a jarring, staccato symphony. Each dissonant sound was like a serrated knife in the chest that scraped the frayed edges of her ribcage.

Lucky, she thought. There’s nothing left to pierce. 

Her yearning bathed her body, crashing over her like a troubled ocean. She longed for the place she thought of as home. Where they let her be… Where she was free.

She could almost feel the coarse fabric of the suitcases, the cool grey trim, the weight of a former life forcibly shoved inside. But she didn’t want to. Didn’t want to hear the unzipping of the container. She feared the release of pressure would trigger something deep within herself that she would never recover from.

It will be over, she thought. When I unzip this, it will be over.

A car door slammed and a glass bottle was tossed to the faulted pavement.

She pictured herself lying in her bedroom in London, waking up with the sunlight pouring through two large panes of glass. She did this every morning for a year and every morning she would sigh and say, I did it. Thank  you, God.

Her grey eyes filled with the tears of an adult orphan; a soul who had lost her home. And with one final thought, she permitted her sorrow to drown her: I will never be home again.

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