It was not because it was a Sunday, nor because it was one of those dreary end-of-the- year days when the world outside greets you sullenly, tinged old yellow like the pages of a book stained by passing years. It was not because of the argument the day before. No, it was none of these things.
She walked out of the house that she’d lived in for more than forty years at almost 8.30am, wearing her warm brown coat and comfortable shoes, empty handed and carrying no bag. In her pockets she had only her wallet and a compass that had belonged to her son.
She posted the keys back through the letterbox, listening to the jangle as they landed, then walked out of the garden. No one else was out on that sepia lit morning, curtains were still drawn across windows like closed eyelids.
As a child she had often run away from home, setting out with a few well loved items in a bag, always heading south because she believed that to go ‘down south’ meant she would be walking downhill. She had also carried a compass then, one that had belonged to her father. Now, leaving under very different circumstances, closer to the end of her life than the beginning, she felt it right that she should walk north.
Later it began to rain. Cars slid past throwing up sheets of water from the road in exuberant displays, the people looking out at her, taking in her dishevelled hair and sodden clothes, turning to their companions to remark or wonder at an elderly lady walking here in no man’s land without even an umbrella to keep off the rain.