The sun was starting to sink below the smoke plagued, purple haze of the city’s skyline. Silhouetted black rooftops let their chimneys throw thick smoke into the smog-filled sky.
‘Goodbye London,’ Tom whispered, as he let his left hand drop to the grey leather suitcase propped up against his thigh. The sentimental frown plastered on his face told the story of a man who was leaving home, perhaps for the last time. Sentimentality was starting to eat away at his brain. As he stared out over the dusk urban jungle he realised how much he loved this town. The archives in his scrapbook mind seemed to be jumping off the shelves as he was hit with one happy memory after another.
For the hundredth time today Tom questioned his sanity. ‘What are you doing?’ the nagging (almost patronising) voice at the inner depths of his jumbled mind asked. The voice had started to sound eerily like his mothers. He checked his watch. She was late. Maybe she had decided not to come.
He was giving it all up. Giving up all of them; friends, family, colleagues. What would they say? How would they react? Was he just going to leave on a whim, no goodbyes, no opportunity for anyone to tell him he was crazy? If he listened they might just make him change his mind.
Leaving everything behind, for her, could he do that? His mind had turned around and walked back home already, but his heart had kept him here: standing alone on the old Oxford Road ready to leave everything, for her. He looked out over the fading skyline he loved. He hadn’t sat here and stared over this view enough. He cursed himself for leaving it all behind. It felt like the end of his adolescence, like leaving home for the last time.
He imagined his mother finding the note he had penned, cursing his selfishness as she read it. He pictured her blubbing as she paced relentlessly around her shoebox kitchen wondering what on Earth he thought he was doing. This was ridiculous!
Tom checked his watch again. She was ten minutes late. Maybe she had changed her mind. Like the disappearing red sun dominating the dusk sky Tom felt like he was sinking; thoughts were spinning around his aching brain at a hundred miles an hour.
It might be all for nothing anyway, this trudge down memory lane: she had changed her mind, she wasn’t coming.
‘Hazel,’ he whispered, ‘please don’t let me down, this is hard enough already.’
Car after car crawled by; the fumes of the rush hour traffic gave the air a musky taste which lingered at the back of his throat. A lump was starting to form there as he remembered the times he and the boys had painted this damn town red from top to toe. Was that all behind him now, was he really about to draw a line under those times? The hairs on the backs of his broad neck rose to attention and a chill ran the length of his spine as he pictured each one of their faces. He loved them, they weren’t the kind of friends you just left behind for any girl. But she was special.
His mind then turned to Hazel. She was possibly the best friend any man could have. He thought of the ways she had made him laugh; no matter what angst he was cradling in his paranoid mind she could always evoke a cheeky grin. She was the only girl he had ever met who always knew what to say. But, more often than not, she didn’t need to say anything, for her eloquent smile was enough to cure all his shallow anxieties and make him smile.
He checked his watch for the third time and saw that she was now twelve minutes late. He closed his eyes. Had she ever let him down before? No, never. Had she changed her mind? Tom started to believe that maybe all this worry had been for nothing. Maybe tomorrow morning his normal life would continue on its cyclic path and this adventure would turn out to be nothing more than a pipe dream. He prayed that tonight his new life would begin. In three hours time he hoped to be flying away from this life at thirty thousand feet and into another world.
Suddenly, from behind him, screeching across the black tarmac, lights sporadically flashing in exuberance, a white Sedan sped into view. ‘Hazel,’ he squealed. She was here. Tom let out a sigh of relief, but simultaneously his heart started pounding like a jackhammer as his adventure had been thrown back into life. The white Sedan had brought with it a nostalgic tidal wave that drowned him as he turned and said a quiet ‘farewell’ to the streets he had grown up in.
The car door flew open as hazel bounded round to greet him. Her bedraggled hair cascaded over her slight shoulders and down her lightly tanned back in thick brunette waves. She had always been special to him; they had always had a special bond that went deeper than just friendship. She hugged him tightly, her breasts squeezing the breath from his tight chest as she clung on, as if for dear life.
‘I thought you’d changed your mind,’ he croaked.
‘Of course not,’ she smiled, ‘I was stuck in the damn traffic. You really think I would let you down?’
‘You never have,’ Tom winked.
Hazel looked deeply into his tired blue eyes. She knew this had been hard for him. ‘You know what they’ll say?’
‘Yeah,’ he muttered. He had thought of little else.
She squeezed his hand and gave him that smile, the one that told him this was the right thing to do.
He loved her and he needed to be with her. Every muscle in his body yearned to be alone with her under the lazy Spanish sun. His body now ached to feel her soft skin skate across it. Her beautiful body never failed to entice him and her soft caring nature invigorated him. She was the most perfect girl he had ever met. He would travel to the end of the Earth for her.
Hazel grabbed his bustling suitcase and tossed it nonchalantly into the back seat. ‘We had better get going if we are to catch that flight, Slugger’ she teased.
‘Yeah, sure,’ sighed Tom as he climbed into the passenger seat.
‘You sure this is the right thing to do?’ Hazel asked.
Tom closed his eyes and imagined Marietta waiting for him on the other side; her beautiful, deep brown eyes making him dance inside. He thought of her soft voice and warm smile. ‘Yes’ he whispered, ‘It really is.’
‘I’ll miss you’ she whispered.
He smiled. ‘I’ll miss you too.’