The Escape

For Round 10 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, we asked you to send a story in the form of a voice mail message. Our winner was “Sorry for Your Loss.”

airplane i i
iStockphoto.com
airplane
iStockphoto.com

Hey, Julia ......... it's me ....... Kind of glad you're not picking up — this'll be easier. Maybe.

So. Here goes. I'm going to ask you to do something for me. It's not an ordinary best friend kind of favor — God, I wish it was. I wish I just needed you to pick up my dry cleaning or something ...... Anyway. Here it is. It's big ..... I need you to somehow explain to David (and I guess everyone else ...... damn) that I won't be there on Saturday. I just can't do it. This won't make any sense, I know. You'll think I'm insane. Everyone will .......

Um, I'm at the airport right now. And I'm getting on a plane in a few minutes. To Guatemala. Yeah, I know. It sounds crazy when I say it out loud. I don't even know where to start. It's just — I went to the bookstore this morning, you know, to pick up that nice pen for the guest book. I decided to grab a book to read on the honeymoon — something fluffy, good for sunning by the pool on the cruise. Anyway. Whatever. So there was this woman there, a row away from me, in the travel section. She just looked — I don't know. Interesting. Different. Carefree. Like she wasn't worrying about what anybody would think. She had on bright red overalls, and some kind of crazy tribal jewelry. She was talking to her friend, and I was nosy and I eavesdropped. Her friend asked her, "Why always these third world countries? I still don't get why you keep going back." And do you know what she said? Listen to this, Julia. She said, "Because when I'm there I'm constantly reminded of what's important. I feel alive in a way I never feel when I'm here. Because, for whatever reason, I feel like I can really be me when I'm there."

What she said hit me like a ton of bricks. Bam. Sounds stupid, right? But I looked at myself and thought — What really is important? Is it this crazy expensive wedding, with the two-thousand dollar dress and open bar? Is it my job — that I hate, and I do only because I'm supposed to have a 'career' and I have to pay the bills? Do I actually feel alive every day? Or am I just trudging
through my life, doing things because I'm 'supposed to'? And am I really being me? Or just a version of me that the rest of the world thinks I should be?

Julia, I just stood there, asking myself those questions — and my answers sucked. That woman walked away with her friend, and I just stood there. I finally left — I never bought the pen or the book.

I went home and kept thinking about all of this, and it was just suddenly so clear that I couldn't get married on Saturday. I love David, and this is just about the crappiest thing I could do to him. But I don't think I should join lives with someone until I can answer those questions and feel good about the answers. And Julia, right now I feel pretty alarmed by my answers.

So — Guatemala. Yes, it's impulsive, and extreme. But I need to do something extreme. I need to force myself to take a long hard look at my life. And I need to go right now, or else I'll chicken out. If that woman's right, maybe I'll come back feeling alive, knowing what's important, and knowing what it's like to truly be me.

Anyway. They're calling my flight ...........

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