The white line

Image of Rebecca Gwyn

Rebecca Gwyn

29 readings

11

That night I woke up with a start.
The phone, resting on the bedside table, marked four thirty-six.
I turned to my husband to make sure he was asleep and then I stared at the wall facing the bed for a long time, hoping to go back to sleep in vain.
At five I decided to get up and go down to the laundry to hang out the washing machine. I relaxed to put the clothes pegs one after the other on the very tight clothes, to fill the drying rack row after row. Then I went up the stairs, went into the wardrobe room, opened the first door of the wardrobe and ran my hand from top to bottom on the towels perfectly aligned one above the other, then opened the second door and moved a blue shirt to the left side , so that only the white shirts hung on the right side. Finally, I opened the third door and placed the shirts on the first shelf.
I needed order, to know that the things around me were in their place, that my world and my references were there where they had always been because, at that time, I felt overwhelmed by a profound sense of loss, of confusion, of extraneousness even to myself.
I who had always lived and believed in respect of the rules, in punctuality, in constancy, in tenacity, I who had never marinated for a day at school, I who regularly stamped the time card in and out of work, I who did the shopping every Saturday morning, which I ironed on Sunday evening so that everyone had his underwear ready for the week, now I felt that all that rigor, all that effort, maybe they were worth nothing because my daily routine, the rhythms always the same ones that I had tried to give to my existence to survive, the security that I had built within my family and that until yesterday seemed like an achievement to me, now I felt them as a ballast.
I felt the need to escape, to breathe a new, fresh air, to break the rules that I had always imposed on myself and all this destabilized me, it caused me a huge disturbance because it was almost wanting to betray myself, what I had built up to that moment.
In the previous months I had even tried to find a lover on a site for extra marital encounters, presenting me as a teenager to unlikely appointments.
That person could not have been me. Or maybe I was and all these years I had only tried to build myself a shell inside which I could hide myself driven by who knows what principles or who knows what lessons?
I thought of my mother who had adapted to an existence where there had never been room for feelings and that perhaps had led me, not with a formal education to be well understood, but probably only with her example, to look for a certain kind of detachment from everything and everyone so as not to depend on anyone, not even with the heart.
I turned off the light, sat in a corner of the room and stood with my knees pressed to my chest until I heard my son's alarm ringing "90min" of Psalm. It was only then that I got up and ran into the kitchen to prepare breakfast with milk and hot tea, biscuits with honey and jam, biscuits. Everyone at home had his own pack of favorite biscuits. Four packs that I placed on the table, close to each other's place. I drank my hot tea, went to the bathroom to wash my face, put a little pencil and put it on my eyes and quickly dressed while wearing the clothes of the previous day. At seven twenty I was ready to go out and take my son to the bus stop.
"I fix my hair with gel and hairspray and I get mom."
"In the meantime I turn on the car. I'll wait outside".
I drove in silence for those five minutes that required the journey from home to the square, while in the background the headphones on my son's ears played "Giant" by Calvin Harris and Rag'N'Bone Man.
"Hello".
"Hi love, see you tonight."
I turned on the radio to hear the morning news. I hated reading local newspapers, but considering it necessary to have a brief update on the daily facts, at least to support a dignified conversation during the coffee break, I had set myself up for some time to listen to the news in the car and, if there was a topic of particular interest, the subsequent debates until I turned off the car engine.
It was a splendid day in early summer, of those with a clear sky, without even a cloud. Outdoor temperature of eighteen degrees and people with light clothes walking their way to the workplace. Because I had always thought that all the people, but all the people of the world who meet in the morning by car, bicycle, motorbike, on foot or on public transport, are headed to work and that after a certain time, always of the morning, everyone should have been there, producing something good, doing their best to contribute to the progress of our civilization.
Red light.
In the center, just before the town hall, there was a traffic light that, during peak hours, caused a long queue. At times I remained there, stopping them in traffic even for ten minutes, a time when I often stopped to observe the white line that separated the two lanes, a long white line interrupted only in conjunction with the authorized entrances, like the one at the town hall on the left, where I had been working for twenty years now.
I looked at myself in the rear-view mirror and, as I adjusted my eyelashes with my forefinger, I caught a glimpse of the man in the car following me making a sign with his hand to proceed. The traffic light had turned green and I was still stationary. I pressed on the accelerator, put the arrow and approached with the wheel to the white line waiting to find a space between the flow of vehicles that ran on the opposite side. One, two, three... the vehicles passed and I remained there, in the middle of the road, with the wheels on that white line, staring at her with a lost look.
I suddenly heard the sound of a horn: I had blocked the traffic and in the meantime the traffic light had turned red.
I turned on the navigator and flickered the screen until I saw the sea on the map. I chose a location near the blue spot at random and calculated the route. An hour and twenty-three minutes.
Green.
I looked at the traffic lights and then at the rearview mirror. I took off the arrow and went back to the center of the lane.
Accelerai, not caring for the other vehicles, carried away by a joy I had not felt for a long time.
I grabbed the phone and called my manager.
"Riccardo, I'm sorry but I had an unexpected thing this morning. I know it never happened to me, that I never allowed myself to ask you so, all of a sudden, but I really need a day off. Colleagues are all on duty and therefore I will not cause great inconvenience ”.
"All right, don't worry. Eventually I will help out. See you tomorrow."
I looked like a little girl who had just stolen a jar of jam from the pantry and was running to find a hiding place to eat it.
I drove relentlessly until I met the sea, a long flat expanse that flanked the road, and until I saw a pitch in the distance and human figures a little farther from diving from a small pier.
I pulled over slowly and parked. I stood a few moments looking. They were kids.
I got out and closed the car. I walked towards them. As I approached, I was quickening my pace. I took off one shoe, then another. I started to run and took off my dress when I reached the bottom of the pier, where I could not go back. I closed my eyes, I didn't think about water, if it was warm or if it was cold, if it was deep or if it wasn't, I thought only to myself, to let myself go without restraints, without weights, without rules, without constraints, without a past and without a tomorrow.
And I made the most beautiful leap of my life.

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Image of Elizabeth
Elizabeth · ago
I love this story! I’m leaving three votes! Here’s a link to check out my story! Hopefully we can support each other ! https://short-edition.com/en/story/1-min/the-life-of-a-balloon-2
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Image of Katla Ignis
Katla Ignis · ago
I love your description of everyday life! Your main character is very interesting and relatable.
I think you’ll like my story, “Do You See Me?”. The link to it is here: https://short-edition.com/en/story/3-min/do-you-see-me

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