the short story project


Khadijah Saleem

The Road Less Travelled

The soft sand clung to Ivory’s feet as she strolled along the beachside, her mind in a swirl of thoughts about how this day had come. This was the last day she would see this lilac sky tinged with scarlet as the sun hid behind the horizon. She would never smell the saline air or feel the waves of water sweep over her ankles. She would never watch the blond toddler build sand castles every Sunday.

Ivory paused walking as her vision became blurry. ‘Remember why you’re doing this,’ she told herself. Relief saturated her as she thought of leaving her unbearable family behind. Her parents, disappointed about having a girl who could not further extend the family surname, stopped caring entirely when her grades dropped and she chose fine arts over sciences. Her two older brothers only noticed her when they needed to release their violent behaviour or raging libido on her lithe body. Goosebumps covered Ivory’s body, her mind reliving the experiences. She would never have to feel that despair again – she would never have to feel anything again.

‘If I don’t exist for them anymore, I don’t have to do anything,’ she whispered to the air, knowing they would not worry or care about her absence for more than a week.

A cold gust blew her hair into her eyes as she put on her slippers and ran to the terrace of a nearby café. The view of the beach under the round moon comforted her. A child-like laughter escaped her lips as she spun in a circle with her arms thrown wide. She stood on her toes at the edge of the terrace, closing her eyes to stop fearing the long drop to the ground. Wind blew her hair, and her dress hugged her body. Lifting one foot over the edge, she felt the cold air curl around her toes. As she slipped her hand into her pocket, the urge to step over the edge began overpowering her.

‘Why fall when you can fly?’ Ivory grinned, looking at her plane ticket to the other side of the world.

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