Janine plunged out of the cab and strode into Paddington Station toward the ticket booth gripping the money in her pocket, the bills wet from clutching and unclutching the wad she had taken from the jar on the kitchen counter. The clock above the ticket booth glowed ten minutes to nine. She made sure her husband had left for the office, and her children were safely at school before making her escape.
They would not discover her absence until much later.
The entire brood would be pulling away from the school around 5pm this evening when sports and other after school obligations had ended; her husband was the designated driver today. It would not be until much later when they arrived home that they would realize she had gone.
As she recounted her steps that day, she realized she had no specific destination in mind; only to escape. She felt as if all her life she had been living with eyes closed. But now they were opening and she walked confidently to the ticket booth. It was brightly lit from inside, but empty, yet she could see a steaming cup of coffee on the counter as if someone had just left in a hurry, so she waited. She had been planning this for a long while and she thought it was curious that at the moment of final execution on her part, (where she would go and how she would get there) she should have to wait. Strawberry Fields Forever was playing somewhere and although she looked around she couldn’t be entirely sure where it was coming from. The lyrics began to seep into her consciousness and she couldn’t help but hum along now as she waited for the station master to return.
Living is easy with eyes closed,
Misunderstanding all you see,
It's getting hard to be someone,But it all works out,
It doesn't matter much to me…
She couldn’t help but feel that the music was live and coming from somewhere high above her. As she directed her gaze upward she saw him then, the station master, floating high above the terminal ticket booth. And as he floated there, he sang:
Let me take you down,
'Cause I'm going to strawberry fields,
Nothing is real, And nothing to get hung about,
Strawberry fields forever
“What are you doing up there?” she called up to him.
“I’m trying to direct traffic,” he replied, rather nonsensically she thought as he was certainly not in any condition to direct anything. “But no one is listening to me. You see.”
No one I think is in my tree
I mean it must be high or low,
That is you can't, you know, tune in, But it's all right,
That is, I think, it's not too bad”
Just then the janitor approached her pushing his massive dust broom, and seeing her upward gaze he followed to where the station master was directing traffic.
“Oh for heaven’s sake Harry, you’re high again.”
Harry looked down on them and gazed intently at Janine.
“What is your destination?”
“I haven’t figured that out”, she called up to him
“Are you dreaming?” he said
Janine considered this question and said, “Well, I’m not sure. Always, no, sometimes I think I am, But you know I know when it's a dream, I think, er, no, I mean, er, yes.”
"Well then, he said, for you it’s all wrong. That is, I think I disagree. You’re not dreaming, you’re running away. And that’s ok as long as you know what you are running to. But be careful. The temptation to run is strong and often leaves you flying high with no parachute.”
Janine considered this. “Maybe tomorrow,” she said, and turning away, headed to the taxi stand where she would hail a cab and return home to clean the house, do the laundry, feed the dog and prepare dinner for her brood who would be returning home by 5-ish, famished and ungrateful for the clean house, the well-fed dog, the folded laundry and the hot meal.