‘Walking Away’ – 100 Words for 100 Days: A Writing Challenge

I’m back on the Internet, after a long hiatus! And I’ve set myself a challenge: to write at least 100 words a day. I’m breaking down my writing aspirations into a small, achievable goal that doesn’t seem too intimidating (though I do intend to sign up for #NaNoWriMo in November, which is always an intense time 😂).

This is the material I’ve compiled so far: a story of a relationship that went wrong, for reasons that lie beyond my understanding at the moment. The tale will become clear in time.

The working title I’ve applied to this idea is ‘Walking Away.’ 👣 I don’t know if I’ll stick with it, but it gives me a conceptual framework to start fleshing out the story.

🌙 🌙 🌙

The car park – empty, cavernous, filled with echoes – seems to swallow me whole as I sit in my car, staring at your last message and trying not to break down.

When we first met, everything seemed simple. We were in our first year of college then, and we felt as though the world was our oyster. We had our whole lives ahead of us, we were going to make our mark on the world, we were destined for great things … or so everyone said.

Our eyes would meet across lecture halls and crowded pubs. I still remember how we laughed together, and how excited you were to present me with a brand-new camera in 2012. I was thrilled with it: a top-of-the-range Nikon, still considered a good camera to this day.

The Nikon is right behind me now, in the passenger seat. It still holds a few pictures from the old days: the festive pubs, the wide smiles, the shining eyes. But those days are gone.

I text you back with a few polite words. I say what you’re supposed to say in these situations. I wish you well.

And I drive away.

🌙 🌙 🌙‘Hi.’

‘Hi.’

‘Happy birthday.’

‘Thank you.’

As usual, you’re a little shy as you slide into the seat next to mine and gently squeeze my hand.’ How’s the assignment going?’

Really? You get me on my own for the first time tonight, and that’s what you ask me?’

You roll your eyes and laugh. Our friends’ raucous karaoke almost drowns out your words, but I still catch them. ‘I wondered whether you’d managed to stop procrastinating yet.’

‘Hey! I have time.’

‘Not really. The world is supposed to end next month, isn’t it?’

I snort into my mojito. ‘Ah yes. The winter solstice. The Mayan calendar. Well, if we are destined to die in a few weeks, the last thing I want to do is spend them on an assignment.’

‘True.’ You chuckle, then gesture to a box you placed in the corner when you first arrived. ‘I got you something.’

‘Oh yeah?’

‘I didn’t want to give it to you in front of everyone, but –’

‘Cormac, listen,’ I say, in a mock-serious tone. ‘I know I’m the sexiest girl you’ve ever met and everything, but two weeks is a bit soon for a proposal.’

‘Oh, fuck off. It’s not an engagement ring. It’s … I know you’re hoping to finish the film project soon, and I thought … maybe if you had a better camera…’

You’re blushing now, stumbling over your words in a way that endears me. I lean over and interrupt you with a kiss.

🌙 🌙 🌙

I’ve never been able to explain why I didn’t want to marry you. That was the thing that hurt you most, I know: the fact that you were left without a reason.

I wish a brilliant, compassionately worded response had come to mind. I really do.

I wish I hadn’t sat there, mouth agape, staring down at the ring with a pit opening up in my stomach.

The silence went on far too long: an awful, billowing silence that made my blood run cold. I still remember – in excruciating detail – the moment you realised what my answer would be. I still see how the hope left your eyes, and how the corners of your mouth began to sag. You slammed the ring box shut and stood up a little too abruptly, causing you to stumble as you turned away from me and strode over to a nearby tree.

I heard you breathe heavily as you leaned against it.

We were in Powerscourt that day. It was beautiful: the sun was out, birdsong filled the air, and the wildflowers were in full bloom. A minute earlier, we had been finishing off our picnic. You were laughing as I joked about my lacklustre cooking skills. We were enjoying a glass of champagne to celebrate your new job.

Right after you proposed, though, I felt as though that picnic might never have happened at all.

Image Source: Adobe Stock

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