I want to feel warm grains of sand wedged between my toes.
I want to see blue skies and tall imposing mountains. I want to people watch in crowded market places and sit on the beach as waves roll in to shore, again and again and again.
I want to shed my tired old skin, to pull the old Ruth away; to fold her up neatly and store her in the back of some out of the way cupboard. I want to forget, to clear the pain and sorrow and darkness from the furtherest corners of my mind.
I want to forget about Andrew and the faint glimmer of hope he carried in and out of my life.
I want to forget about Danny.
I make plans to leave the country. Endless, hopeless plans of crisp, white sheets of paper. I make plans to travel around the world, to explore every corner of Europe. To become anonymous among the people of New York City. To lose myself in the heat of Australia . . .
I make plans to go to South America, to find Zoe, to hunt her down. I can tell her everything that's happened, everything that's gone wrong since she left. We can cry together and mourn together and rebuild our lives together.
There'll be sunshine there.
Warm sun, blue skies, grains of sand between my toes. Poorly lit rooms with thin slivers of light sneaking past the edges of the curtains. Unfamiliar singers and tunes seeping out from ancient radios. Zoe sitting across from me, a hint of laughter playing around the edges of her lips.
Zoe sitting across from me, saying things neither of us really understand.
Zoe holding me, smoothing my hair, whispering things that make me blush and hope in the same moment. Zoe, with her hands on my face, in my hair, hooked around the back of my neck. Zoe with her lips on mine, searching for things I'm not sure I possess.
She pushes me away and I panic, afraid that I have lost her, afraid that I have allowed her to slip through my fingers. But she returns and my heart beats faster and her hair brushes against the side of my face, as my fingers trace lines down the centre of her back.
Zoe laughs as she moves away from me, lacing her fingers through mine and telling me that we have plenty of time. There's too much colour in her cheeks and I wonder if she is teasing me, if I am too eager, if I want her too much. But she kisses my fingers, one at a time, and I relax and laugh along with her.
We spend days getting to know each other.
I tell her about my childhood, about my family and my school friends. She tells me about Danny. Little things, small details – how he spent too long in the shower, how he hid his vodka from her, how he liked to sit in front of the television, pretending to watch, but never really seeing what was going on.
We sit on the beach and talk and watch the waves roll in. We pretend that nothing really matters . . .
I want to leave the grey dreariness of my life. I want to leave the pain and the terror. I want to leave the bad memories behind.
I want to run away.
I want to sit with Zoe, on some beach far far away, with warm grains of sand wedged between my toes.