I remember that week. I read 4 books.
I was in a place I never knew. At the time I thought it was nice. It was everything I was not used to. Surrounded by brown rolling hills. It was the antithesis of my ‘home’, although nothing felt like ‘home’ anymore.
I arrived to the sight of dark black clouds above me. The sky was angry, furious even. Like it knew I was keeping a big secret. I managed to avoid its wrath, retreating into the anachronistically modern house. I looked out the large glass windows and all I could see were those fields. I felt anxious. I wondered how long I could keep things to myself. Days? Months? Weeks? Even years?
I start on the first book, only because I don’t know what else to do. We are all trying to make each other as comfortable as possible, but at least from my end it is not working. Conspicuously I pull out the most dense book I can find from my travel pack. I may be on foreign turf, but I am conscious of the need to express my superiority as soon as I arrive. The other occupants retreat into routines of what seems like normalcy.
The first book was 500 pages long and I read it in four hours.
I am the first to wake the next morning. I cannot tell that the rain poured down the night before. The anger seemed to have past. Although the sky was clearer I was not. How would it be possible to remain someone else? How did I get into this mess? I desperately wanted to tell the truth but knew I couldn’t. I was a stranger in a foreign land with foreign emotions.
Book number two came and went in a blink of an eye. I tried to keep my mind active while others slept in neighbouring rooms. It seemed like an entire day, but it was only half that at most. The charade continued, all the while my gut was imploding inside, desperate to reveal the truth.
Only once did my guard slip. I acted when no one was looking, it would have taken five seconds maximum, but that five seconds had to be enough to last me through the week. It was not.
Book three took longer to complete, only because my mind at that stage was filled with growing resentment and fear. I could not concentrate. I needed to get out of there, but I couldn’t. I felt trapped.
Thankfully the opportunity presented itself after four days of isolation. The land surrounding me was harsh and baron. Unforgiving, just like the consequences of my secrets if I continued to hide them. Desperately I tried to hang on to something, and wanted to remain outside of the house for as long as possible. Thankfully I got my wish. I was allowed out for the night and I did not return to the house until the next afternoon.
I started book number four upon my return. I was thankful I could see the end in sight. Just 24 hours and I could have things back the way I wanted them. Or so I thought. My gut kept asking me questions I chose to ignore.
Why are these people so different to me?
Why must all my interactions with them be based on lies?
When could I be the version of myself that I liked?
Those questions were never answered.
When I got ready to leave the sky was cloudy. There was sense of impending doom on the horizon. I looked outside the window one last time. Something told me I would never be back here again. Instead I farewelled the owners with a polite thank you. I told them that I would see them in a few weeks as planned. As I wish them well, it begins to rain.
I never saw them again.