Leaving and Arriving

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Longlisted for the Write about Walking A/way competition 2023


When I was six, my family relocated from a tiny cottage into a roomy house with a sumptuous
garden. On the morning of that final exciting day, our parents and baby Michael departed for the
new home. Meanwhile, my four-year-old brother John and I reluctantly remained in the temporary
care of a favourite neighbour, Mrs Jim.


We played hide and seek and waited. We ate raspberry jam sandwiches and waited. We read picture
books and waited.
Eventually, I anxiously whispered to John,
“They’re not coming back for us. Let’s go and find them.”


John protested; I firmly took his hand and walked him down our cobbled street onto the noisy main
road. The summer sun shone as we scurried by the red-faced butcher’s window, the whirring
Laundrette, and the corner Chemist. I cajoled John past the tempting sweet shop and across the
unnerving crossroads. We smiled sweetly at the inquiring faces in the bus queue as though our walk
was an everyday occurrence.


Finally, we arrived at the base of that lengthy hill to Cherry Tree Drive. The uneven gritstone
pavement rose like a mountain path. John began to wail; he was hot and tired. I coaxed him along
with repeated assurances; that we were almost there. Just as my certainty dissolved and stinging
tears began to well up, remarkably, our lovely Mum appeared in the distance, waving and calling
from the back garden of number three.


Strangely, she wasn’t at all surprised to see us!


Julie Coldwell

Julie Coldwell

Long-distance solo cyclist and wild/stealth camper. Outdoor swimmer. Slow runner. Blog writer documenting unsupported cycling journeys. A Lake District ( U.K.) dweller.

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