(though not necessarily in that order)

(though not necessarily in that order)

Friday, 31 December 2010


Start walking. Walk past the few houses that make up the street. Walk down a steep bank, resisting the urge to run. Walk across the main road and up into the woods.

Keep walking. Make a decision, left path or right path, decide on left. Say hello to a nosy squirrel who stops for a chat.

Duck under a fallen tree, put your hand flat against the leaves on the ground to steady yourself. Feel the coldness, the dampness, the muddiness.

Keep walking. Walk in an almost run, get away from the sound of the road. Your neck feels like it will explode, your heart pounds. Keep walking.

Stop to take off your coat, tie it around your waist. Feel free - the only things in your pockets are a mobile phone turned off, but there just in case of emergencies, and a used tissue. A watch on your wrist, but no cross around your neck, no hair clip in your hair, no bracelet with sentimental value. You left the key to your house under a flower pot in the garden, so you don't have that to jingle.

Keep walking. Getting into the paths people don't walk on very often now, the ground is less of a muddy mush in the majority. The dog walkers turn around before this point, so none of them crush up the path. See a deer, in powerful beauty, stand staring at you briefly before disappearing into the growth again.

Keep walking. Glance at your watch, 45 minutes and no other humans. Start singing - not loudly, not spectacularly, just because you know no-one is listening. Your voice dissipates quickly into the trees and the birds' wings flap.

Decide this time to go on the right path. It meanders down a steep hill. One misplaced foot and you would tumble until a tree broke your fall. Would be hours or days before anyone found you in this place. Keep walking, spot a robin hiding in the undergrowth.

Keep walking. Roll up your sleeves. Feel the coldness of the air on your scarred arms. The animals won't judge and there are no humans to judge what was once your life.

Keep walking. Smile. The sky is grey, the trees are bare, the ground is in places green. Looking up, the world is monochromatic. Looking straight ahead, you get bits of greenery breaking up the perhaps gloomy looking forest.

Funny really. Last day of the year, you are going on a walk. Solitude. All part of the plan, to tire out your body enough for you to be able to get an early night and avoid hearing any fireworks at midnight. A day when it seems huge swathes of people are out celebrating together, but you want just to be alone.

Sing as if you are in the middle of a forest, as if no-one is listening. Because they won't be, no-one is nearby.

Keep walking, keep walking, forwards, forwards.

As if no-one is watching. Because they won't be, no-one is nearby.

Keep walking. Get closer back to civilisation, hear the cars roar past in the distance. Pull down your sleeves, for civilisation won't allow your arms to be on show.

Keep walking. Get closer and closer back to reality. Away from the trees, away from the deer, away from the undergrowth.

Keep walking. Say hello to a cow, "How now brown cow?"

Keep walking. You are the only one on this path, the only one in this forest. Nearly two hours without anybody to judge you.

The first person to walk on some of the leaves, the leaves that dropped from the trees in autumn. Crunching, squishing underfoot. Creating a new path, a path which is your own.

Cow looking at you oddly - doesn't matter, no more oddly than other people look at you.

Keep walking. You can see houses now, houses mean people. People mean people thinking things. At least in the forest there are no people thinking.

Keep walking. Out of the woods, down to the main road, up the steep bank, walk past the few houses, get the key from under the flower pot, open the front door.

Stop walking. Stop.

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