The rest of the world thinks me insane, I suppose. I’m not totally sure I’d disagree. It’s a game I’ve played with myself ever since I was small, a game everyone plays at some point or another. It’s the one where you walk down the pavement without stepping on the cracks of the flagstones. Not because they’d be bad luck, nor because your getting scored for your accuracy, but just because it’s not what you’re doing right now.
I’m thinking too hard about it, really. 26 year old women in business suits aren’t supposed to play this game, and while the kids walking home from primary school can see what I’m doing, I can see from the corners of my eyes that their parents are going to some lengths to keep their distance. In my minds eye, I can see the path I’ve taken though the town. Every flagstone I’ve stepped on glowing white like a cheap week-day afternoon gameshow, and I see it as evidence of a path randomly travelled. Every chosen step a decision in my life that has taken me from the innocent crack-dodging five year old: Here the step that took me to doing maths at A-Level, over there the agonised decision that meant I dropped out of university, back by the lights – and just as important – the one that took me to the nightclub on that night four years ago where I met the man I fell in love with. Still love, I think.
The turn of the corner brings new flagstones. Smaller, and I have to adjust my stride to fit. I’m skipping a row at a time now, and the path is no longer a solid line but dotted. More decisions, moving in with my boyfriend, eventually renting a bigger flat, a year of domestic bliss, of me and him and us.
And now I’m at the shopping centre. Pedestrian precinct. The flagstones too big to step over, the decisions too big to make alone. and there it is, the made decision. I will tell him Yes. I will marry him. After all, six years is a long time to be together. We will be together forever.
And I’ll never think of James again.