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Before I Go


It’s 30 minutes till Valentine’s Day, and I am getting ready to leave. I moved here in search of some semblance of normality, some sort of relief from the drama and theatrics of my old town, but it seems as though this town doesn’t have what I’m looking for either. This small town is the complete opposite of what I was used to; There are far fewer people than in my old town. Lesser malls and theatres, lesser drunk and high kids rollerblading past my window at 5 in the morning, and lesser neighbours who scream into a bullhorn to ask you to keep your volume down. It was enthralling and fun until it wasn’t. This town is quiet, too quiet. It feels like a day at the beach - all fun and games until you are drowning underwater and can’t see anything anymore. It feels suffocating. I feel suffocated.

I wasn’t planning on telling my parents since they were hardly interested in anything but themselves. Mother was always on the phone or in her room trying on new makeup she saw on the internet, and Father was always in the office. I didn’t think they would be much keen on my plans for the next six months. I decided to give the town and myself six months before I do anything else. I went about my day, going to school, talking to my friends who I befriended just because they looked exactly like me, going home, and locked myself in the room for the rest of the night. I started writing obituaries for everyone in this town to keep my sanity. I wasn’t crazy or anything; I was just fascinated by death. It is ironic how death is grim and dark, but it keeps life pleasant and light. Isn’t it a beautiful juxtaposition? And it vaguely reminds me of my boyfriend and me.

He is this lanky, shy, awkward kid who just so happens to be my next-door neighbour. He stood in front of my door the first day I moved in, and I was entranced by him ever since. He was not my usual type; in fact, he is the farthest type of guy I usually go for, but there was something about his aura, his ordinariness that drew me to him, like a moth to a flame. We started going on secret dates, exploring all the hidden corners of the town, hiding in my basement until my father gets back and going on late-night drives. For a fleeting moment, life in this small town did not seem too bad.

I am very grateful to him for letting me into his heart and becoming his first girlfriend. I had the best few months of my life with him but, unfortunately, he isn’t the key. He is not enough to keep me in this small town. I needed something more, and I can’t keep relying on him to feel joy, even if it was just for a split second. I needed to find a new place where it was just ordinary enough to become extraordinary. I know it doesn’t make much sense, but I did always love irony. I know it’s a dick move to be leaving on Valentine’s Day without giving any reason, but if I don’t do this now, I don’t think I’ll ever muster the courage to do this again. Besides, there is something poetic about leaving on Valentine’s Day, no?

I know I have a hold over him since I was the first girl he connected with, and I could have easily convinced him to go on this little quest with me, but it doesn’t seem right. I don’t want him to one day look at me with regrets in his eyes, wondering why he ever agreed to come along with me. I should leave now so that I can preserve the precious memories of these past months. He is an ordinary guy who deserves an ordinary girl, and I don’t want to get in the way of that. I just hope he doesn’t forget about me.

I left him my master book to all my journals, and I’m going to walk over to the hidden ice-skating rink where we developed our secret code and place my white dress and my boots there. He said that was his favourite outfit of mine. I hope that suffices as both a thank you and an apology.

I think people often forget that being ordinary is a blessing, and I hope that one day I could be part of those mindless idiots. Doing the same old mundane tasks every day and sitting down at night thanking my lucky stars that I get to experience it. In a world where everyone is trying to be extraordinary, being ordinary is a superpower. I know being a 16-year-old finding and moving to another place, abandoning her family and friends without a proper goodbye is not the most typical story of an ‘ordinary girl’ but here’s to a new start, new normality, a new ordinary life.


Anna Cayne

© 2021 Alison Lian

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