1. Now NOW THE PLANE
This is it. I’m out of time. I stare at the send icon on my phone screen, willing myself to press it. My heartbeat—already way faster than usual—thunders harder in anticipation of that one tiny moment, the final step in setting this all in motion.
Despite myself, my thumb swishes downward, my eyes flicking to the start of the email I’ve been drafting since I walked out of my house, got on a bus, went through departures, boarded, found my seat, and buckled up.
Mum and Dad,
Don’t freak out. I know you will anyway, but don’t.
(There’s no point. By the time you read this, I’ll be in the air. You always say how safe flying is, Dad. So you don’t need to worry, because when you read this, I’ll be the safest I’ve ever been.)
I’m doing this because I have to go. I just have to go. I tried to tell you about how I have nothing left and I HAVE TO GO, but you weren’t listening. Now I think you’ll have to, because right now I’m on a plane.
I’m on flight BA037 from Gatwick to Vancouver. You’ll be able to look it up, see? I’m not trying to lie or hide anything. You know exactly where I am. I just had to go, so I’m going. If you’ve been paying any attention, you know why.
I’ll call you when I land.
I love you.
P.S. I’m sorry about using your credit card, Dad.
P.P.S. I’ll pay you back.
The captain is cheerfully talking about our estimated flight time, how sunny it is in Vancouver, how he expects there may be “a few small bumps” over Greenland. He asks for all electronic equipment to be put into flight mode.
I swallow. Steel myself.
There. It’s done. I put my phone into flight mode and settle back against my seat, watching the terminal slide slowly by as we taxi to the runway. In a few minutes I’ll be airborne. England will drop away underneath me, getting smaller and smaller and farther away, and all my problems and heartaches and regrets and mistakes will shrink along with it. The next time I set foot on this soil—who knows when that will be—I’ll be someone different; someone changed. Not someone new, exactly, but maybe the person I was always meant to be.
We’re on the runway. The engines roar, the plane pushes forward. Beside me, a woman in a green jumpsuit whispers, “Off we go.”
I close my eyes. I finally smile.
Off I go.