Her entire life had been packed into one giant square suitcase - a green and floral monstrosity on wheels. In it were an assortment of undergarments, an extra pair of shoes, her favorite articles of clothing and something nice enough to pass for interview attire. There were a few books as well, and some cds for when the silence would become unbearable.
She stood in line, clad in dark jeans and boots. Her hair had been piled into a sloppy bun on top of her head and earbuds dangled along the front of her hooded cardigan. The suitcase sat peacefully next to her.
The bus was boarding now and she checked her ticket once more, destination Seattle. The weather outside the depot reminded her of Washington - it was gloomy and rainy. Instead of unsettling her, she was excited. It was the kind of forecast she adored most, rainy with a chance of adventure. And that’s what this was after all, an adventure.
In just twenty minutes, she’d be seated comfortably near the rear of the coach bus as it left the city (and her old life) behind.
Only one thing was missing.
Her traveling companion was a no-show. She suspected as much really, the boy had talked a big show about leaving behind a system that just wasn’t working for him, about finding freedom, about going on a grand exploratory trip with her - but she knew it for what is was. Talk. When it came down to the wire, most people just didn’t have it in them to up and quit on everything they knew. She didn’t begrudge him for it, either.
This just wasn’t her first merry-go-round. She’d made a new start in a similar fashion before, she could do it again. It was always alone though - that was the kicker. And here she was so looking forward to having company this time.
The line grew smaller and she nudged her suitcase another foot forward, keeping her eyes open for that one familiar face. No luck.
With a sigh, she handed over her ticket to be inspected. Stuffing it back in her pocket, her fingers firmly wrapped around the plastic handle of her luggage and tugged it along. It was stowed away under the bus with the cargo of other passengers - those visiting family or friends out of state, going back and forth to university, seeing the sights, etc.
She boarded, and each step up into the coach pulled more of her hope away until with resignation she flopped into a seat near the back and dropped her handbag next to her. This was it, she was going it alone once more. She’d be fine, that’s just how it worked.
A flash of movement caught her eye, someone was booking it. There was always one or two latecomers to the party, so she sat back and closed her eyes. Soon enough, and then the wheels would turn and she could just...let...it...go…move on.
“So, uh,” the stilted words rolled out in a deep timbre and she dared not open her eyes. “This seat taken?”
He was there. That flash of human desperation outside had been him, and now he stood in the aisle - out of breath and eyes bright - waiting for her response.
“Yeah,” she pulled her purse into her lap. “It is now.”
He settled in next to her, grinning like a fool and she couldn’t help the smile that tried its hardest to tug at her own lips.
“So, are you ready for this?”
He shrugged. “You know, I had some doubts, but I think I am. If not now...when?”
The coach lurched into motion and she smirked outright. “Last chance to change your mind. I’m sure he’d let you off.”
His long, calloused fingers found hers and he squeezed. “No, I’m good.”
Her whole life had been packed into one giant square suitcase, but the most integral piece of it was trying to appear casually reclined in the seat next to her. She probably wouldn’t read any of the books or need any of those cds. This was it.