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Riding The Hurricane

Riding The Hurricane
I ran away from home when I was thirty-four.

Cassandra retired her pen to the table where she had sat for the last two hours. She rested her chin heavily in the palm of her hand and tapped her long fingers softly against her cheek. Staring at the words in her own sloped handwriting, she wasn’t happy with the two pages written after this first sentence, but somehow there was relief in just getting her thoughts out onto paper. This one line, however, kept drawing her eyes back to the page, as if she would find some kind of instruction. But there were no directions on the page, just a short, sad history of her life to date.

What have I done? Is this a dream? Am I going to wake and find I didn’t really have the courage to get up and leave this time, like so many other times?

Cassie Patton was a beautiful sight in the vibrant morning light, her golden hair drifting over her shoulders and spilling onto the table in front of her. Her slender legs were stretched out and crossed at the ankles under the table. Despite the puffy appearance that came from crying too much and sleeping too little, she seemed more youthful than the life story her years told.

Her hazel eyes shifted once again to the second paragraph she had written:

I arrived here yesterday, came straight to the Hotel and locked myself away, terrified to think somebody might discover me here. Stupid I know, but it was what I felt I needed to do at the time. I don’t feel safe yet, even though I know Phil will have no idea where I am right now.

Cassie desperately longed to feel safe. Her diary entry could have been an excerpt from a novel, with scenes and a villain better left for nightmares. She wanted to wake up. Now a new world stretched out in front of her as she gazed down into the town square. It was a happy, bustling place with a myriad of people going about their own business. None of them were even aware of her existence.

Two feelings fought inside her, one of anxiousness and the other of excitement. She was petrified to be on her own; scared to be so far away from home and everything known to her. That feeling alone was almost too much. But she knew she had to fight it, fight it with all her being before she ran back to the familiar corner of her old life. It would be far too easy to do that very thing. Slowly and surely though, she could feel the excitement and anticipation building inside her. It was almost outweighing the fear now.

Cassie remembered back to her daughter’s third birthday, when she had watched her sitting on the floor of their kitchen. Belinda had torn open all her birthday presents in two minutes, just to see what was inside the brightly wrapped packages as quickly as she could. That’s what Cassandra was beginning to feel like. This whole new world was opening up and she wanted to know what it had in store for her.

At the age of thirteen Cassie had gone to the A&P show with her friends, and had wanted so much to ride the Hurricane. The fantastic fuming machine had been taunting, calling her name seductively, as it hurled people screaming into the air. But she had let her fear get the better of her. She had watched as it whirled around, children and adults grinning widely as it danced its wild jig. She dared to think of what it would be like, but she had lacked the courage to actually get on. She had always regretted that, and often thought about what she had missed out on all those years ago. The chance had never come again, as shortly after this her life had turned a different corner. Cassandra decided this time she wasn’t going to let the ride finish without having dared to get on. She couldn’t let her fear be the victor this time. She would grit her teeth, jump on with both feet, close her eyes, take a deep breath and let the ride take her where it would.

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