Fresh Starts and Clean Slates

Fresh starts and clean slates. She heaved a sigh at the thought of embarking on another one of these absurdly romanticised notions. The sigh slowly rocked through her body and gently left her slightly open lips, with a hiss of utter weariness. She had wanted this day, in particular to matter, to be significantly different from any of the previous eight years. The prospect of awakening on day one of their ninth year with a feeling of newness, even rebirth at a stretch, is what prompted this burst of committed energy. Energy which in recent days had been a painfully sparce commodity.

The realisation of how one day had simply melted into another, eventually leading to a blur of tumultuous years, had slowly dawned on her and what she now faced was what could be likened to a metaphorical pile of what had in its original state been contrasting, yet symbiotic materials of various textures, colours and shapes now contorted into an unrecognisable and ugly pile.

She decided that all actions that followed, would change this pile that symbolised her life and transform the process into one of smelting. For those of you who don’t know, the difference between melting and smelting is that melting heats to a point of exactly that, melting. While smelting is the process which pushes ore past melting, to its purest form. Oh, how this appealed to her. It symbolised a process of unravelling and rebirth.

But here’s the thing about fresh starts, the freshness evaporates quicker than the crisp dew at the crack of a summer’s dawn. The eagerness slowly erodes like the calcified joints of an elderly person, twisted and bent by arthritis. What she was left with was the raw and ugly reality of her choices. It had taken her a while to make that word palatable; choices. It was however, that simple word that unshackled her on so many fronts. That word had given her the freedom her soul craved.

She had been so carried away by her own enthusiasm, her own emotionally charged locomotive of newness, that she literally forgot to check whether there were any passengers who had bought a ticket. Prrrrrrrrrt, ALL ABOARD! Or in this case, not. Her emotional steam train was already three kilometres from the station when she made this crucial realisation. She stood still in the moment, gathered herself while involuntarily giving her body a light shake of firm resolve. It did not matter. That was that. This journey was about her after all. For the first time in years, every step of this season was about HER. The weight of that realisation gently draped over her in a comforting embrace of okay-ness.

‘Next customer please.’ Lydia snapped back to her reality, one of early mornings, congested train trips to work and irritable customers.

‘Paper or plastic?’ She already knew that this was a paper type of customer. This had become her comical internal wager to speed up her mundane days. Lydia had refined flipping open those paper bags in under three seconds. ‘Not even a paper cut,’ she often added as she puffed out her buxom chest while for a moment correcting her slouchy posture. She was not seen, she was not heard, she was not honoured.

Lydia slowly wiped down her till point for the last time that day and, glancing at the scratched face of her little Seiko watch, she fleetingly contemplated a quick sprint to the store manager’s office for a change of till roll but instead, strolled towards the exit. She mumbled her goodbyes as she slipped into the warmth of her knee length, tweed coat. As the cold air hit her, she made a mental note to have the zip replaced on her nearing payday or maybe the next. The zip had been broken for most of that winter, as replacing a zip didn’t quite make her list of priority expenses.

The thought of a stuffy and bustling train trip home turned her thoughts towards the trapped bee, which had caught her attention for most of the morning. Lydia had watched it float up, drawn to the large skylight above her till point. The skylight window had been stuck for years which doomed the desperately buzzing bee to certain death. She often felt like that bee and the many bees that had buzzed themselves to death before, mistaking the hot windowpane for a fictitious exit.  

Lydia smirked. There would be no fictitious exit for her. Unlike that poor bee, she had a plan.