Go left




































































You decide to go travelling. You are bored, disappointed, angry. Your life has no meaning. You don’t know what to do. You have to get away.

You are crossing the street one day and there is an urgent screech of tyres as a car brakes late at the lights. You nearly die. Your heart is jump started, revved up. It’s racing hard, flat out. You are on the edge, at the end of your tether. If you carry on like this you could blow a gasket. Is this what life is all about? Is this what it all adds up to? You feel silly. You want to end it all. You decide to leave.

There is nothing to leave. You have no family, no friends, no partners, no lovers, no mates, no casual acquaintances, no work colleagues, no neighbours. They mean nothing to you. There is nobody to wave you goodbye, nobody to inform in case of emergency. You are a free spirit, a wanderer, a modern-day nomad. You are lost. You are finding yourself. You’ve been talking about doing this for ages. You’ve always wanted to travel. You are too young to settle down, too old to put down new roots.

There is nothing to keep you here.

It is raining when you leave. You drive along dark streets, listening to the hiss of early morning traffic on the wet road. The street lights have gone supernova in the raindrops on your windscreen. You start the wipers’ rhythmic dirge... Lo-ner. Lo-ner. Lo-ner.

You are yawning wildly, extravagantly, stretching your lips over your teeth like a chimp. Perhaps you should have stayed in bed with the sheets wrapped around you like swaddling clothes. It was safer there.

Soon, the city is left behind. You pass huge suburban villas lying stranded in muddy paddocks. Fresh avenues of asphalt meander through green fields staked out with small white pegs, the early markers of the city’s advance. Every gateway has a hand-painted sign advertising rural produce – eggs, fruit, fresh manure...

When the rain turns to drizzle, you decide to stop at a small redbrick bungalow to buy a bag of peaches. Your tyres splash through dirty puddles as you enter the driveway and somewhere nearby a dog starts to bark hysterically. When you switch off the engine, the sound lingers in the air, washing around you like run-off. Rain splatters on your windscreen from the trees overhead, blotting out the bungalow.

There is water everywhere, all around you. You are waiting for the right moment to plunge into it. You are sitting on the ocean surface waiting to dive, to leave the light behind and make your way to a lost wreck buried on the sea floor.

Eventually you open the car door and tiptoe across the sodden yard like stepping through a landmined bog. A woman wearing purple tracky daks opens the front door. She looks at you without speaking from behind the flyscreen and then disappears into the dark recesses of the house.

You can hear voices from inside the house. They are bright, bouncy voices, rising and falling to a familiar rhythm, a chorus of chatter calling and responding across the airwaves. You stand on the porch step, listening to the voices and the steady drip drip of raindrops from the branches of a nearby gum tree. There is no traffic on the road now; the world has disappeared behind a watery veil. The voices are constant, unrelenting, a torrent of bubbling sound. It’s like dodging rain; you can’t find any gaps in it, pick a path through to the cover of silence on the other side. Something deep within your being starts to uncoil. You know these voices. They’ve been with you all your life, and every time you hear them, you feel a sickening, sinking movement in your stomach like the sudden slowing of an elevator.

They are the voices that people use to block out the sound of their own loneliness.

You reach out and touch the screen door.