ϟ


a new beginning
i don't wanna live my life without you
how am i suppose to leave you now?
when you're looking like that — westlife.


"For you to stay right here with me."

She drives along the M4, the radio playing quietly. The rain hits the window, the window wipers going like no tomorrow and every now and then she turns her attention to her fourteen year old daughter in the passenger seat.

She smiles gently, hands firmly on the steering wheel and turns her attention back to the road. She has no idea where she's going, she doesn't care.

An adventure is an adventure. She could end up anywhere and it wouldn't matter.

Her and Nita against the world, the way it was supposed to.


She feels anxious and petrified as she grips the steering wheel.

Her two boys, aged eleven and ten are arguing in the back seat. Her daughter, three years old is asleep, holding her blanket close to her cheek. She takes her eyes off the road for a split second, tells the boys to pack it in and looks back at the road.

The boys ignore her, continue to argue and she sighs.

She takes a deep breath, (or two) trying to keep the sick feeling at bay. It doesn't work. She stills feel like he's behind her, following her, stalking her. She's scared he'll figure out where she's gone, kidnap her and kill her.

He said he would, why wouldn't he?


She decides to stop off for something to eat.

They've been driving for three hours, the clouds have cleared up and the rain has stopped. The sun is shining brightly, a rainbow appears ahead. She turns off at the nearest Service Station, parks the car and gets out.


"For god sake Robert, Edward! I'm trying to concentrate!"

She yells. It doesn't make much difference and she decides to turn off at the nearest Service Station. Maybe a break would do them all good? She finds a parking space near the entrance, turns off the engine and leaves the car.


She sits at the table, a plastic cup in her hand which contains coffee, something to keep her awake until she ends her adventure.

Nita, her daughter has gone to the bathroom and she looks around the cafe. Her eyes fall on a woman whose attempting to encourage her daughter to eat the chips on her plate. The girl, who looks roughly three, doesn't verbally respond, instead she shakes her head.

She's got two boys either side of her, both arguing about something. She tries her hardest to get them to shut up but they don't seem to take notice of her.


"Sanchia darling, try a chip?" She suggests as she holds one in the air for her daughter. Her daughter, brown hair and blue eyed shakes her head. She doesn't want anything to eat and Fay goes to pick up her drink, "Drink?"

Her daughter nods and she hands the cup to her daughter. Without a word, she drinks from the cup before putting it down on the table.

She turns her attention to the boys again and sighs. She had ruined their lives by staying with their father, Robert was becoming a nasty piece of work and Edward, he was becoming all buttoned up. As for Sanchia? She was silent. She hadn't spoken to anyone.

But a certain quote flicks in her mind, "When all is lost, hope remains."

And she hopes it's enough to save her children.


They get up to leave when Sanchia drops her blanket. At first she doesn't realise, instead she carries on walking with her mother and brothers. Kirsty finds it, picks it up and rushes towards the woman.

"Excuse me, your daughter dropped this." She smiles softly as the woman accepts the blanket out of her hands.

"Thanks." She whispers. She looks down at her daughter, looks back at the woman and asks if she could by her a coffee as a small thank you. Kirsty agrees and they both walk back to where Kirsty was sat.

The two boys decide they want to go browsing in the shops so Fay takes out two ten pound notes, hands them to the boys and tells them not to spend all their money at once. As they run off in the direction of the shops, she smiles weakily.

There was a time they weren't able to do that.


"I'm grateful you found Sanchia's blanket, she can't sleep without it." She tells the other woman as they are sat at the table. Their coffee's have been ordered and now they are just waiting for them.

"You're welcome." She answers back, "I'm Kirsty."

"Nice to meet you Kirsty, I'm Fay. This." She pauses, "This is my daughter Sanchia."

Kirsty looks down at the little girl and says hello. Sanchia stares at her, doesn't verbally respond and instead snuggles into her mothers chest. Fay apologises and makes up the excuse that her daughter is shy.

But there's a voice inside her head telling her, "It's your fault, she's like this. You stayed with him."


"Have you come far?" Kirsty asks attempting to break the ice. Their coffee's arrive and Fay picks up one of the plastic cups and takes a sip before she shakes her head.

"Not really, I've come from Oxford, what about you?"

"Bristol. Are you going away?" She asks. She notices the flicker of something in Fay's eyes. A flicker of fear perhaps? She smiles, pretends not to have noticed but deep down, wonders why she seems so cagey.

"Yes." She answers with a smile, "But it's not a holiday."

"Oh." Kirsty replies with a small smile, takes a sip of the coffee and notices her daughter walking back towards her. Nita approaches the table, smiles at Fay and Sanchia before asking if she could have some money to put on her phone.

Kirsty agrees, puts a ten and five pound note in her hand and watches her leave again.


"Your daughter?" Fay asks and Kirsty nods, "Nita, she's fourteen."

"Is she your only child?"

"Yes." There's another silence between them and Fay looks at her daughter. Sanchia is still quiet, fiddling with the blanket between her fingers hoping that her mother hurries up soon and they can go. She's equally terrified that her father will find them.

"You mentioned you're not going on holiday." Kirsty replies, "Visiting friends?"

Fay laughs a little and shakes her head, "This is going to sound ridiculous but I'm actually on an adventure."

Now it's Kirsty's turn to laugh, "It doesn't sound ridiculous. Believe it or not, I'm on an adventure too."


They happen to sit in a comfortable silence for a minute or two until Kirsty asks, "What are you running from? We're all running from something."


For a moment she debates with herself whether to tell the complete stranger why she's running and why she's so scared. She decides too, after all, she's probably never going to meet the stranger again.

"My husband." She begins, "He's abusive. My children are scared, it's only taken me twelve years but I've finally plucked up the courage to leave. And now I'm driving around the country, hoping to find somewhere far away to start again."

Fay sighs and makes eye contact with Kirsty.

Kirsty smiles back warmly and replies, "I understand how you feel. My husband's abusive too. Ever since our daughter was born, he's beaten the crap out of me. Fourteen years later, here I am. Attempting, hoping and praying to find somewhere to escape to."


What were the chances of meeting someone in the same situation as you?


She watches the clock for a moment, watches the big hand strike twelve and realises it's about time she made a move.

She writes her telephone number down on a paper napkin, hands it to Kirsty and parts with a smile. As her and Sanchia go to get the boys, they walk back to the car, get inside and she puts on Sanchia's seatbelt.

Getting in the car, she turns the keys in the ignition and drives out of the parking space.


She's driving along the M4, radio on full volume.

The boys are quiet, Sanchia is quiet and she's grateful that order has been restored. As she's driving along, she can't help but think about the conversation she had with Kirsty, a complete stranger who happens to understand her.

Perhaps everything does happen for a reason.


And that's all she needs to carry on driving, no longer afraid if he caught up with her.

She is going to escape him, she believes she will.


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