Here’s the next part of a story which might turn into something longer… or might not! Jay has been relocated with a new identity to the village of Oxhope. One evening she wanders down to the pub where there seems to be a mini music-fest in progress. A band sets up and starts to play, and for a moment she forgets her problems. Unexpectedly she is spooked by something, loses her confidence, and rushes home.
Jay was home. She felt shaken and spooked for no reason, except she was unused to the normal, unused to the everyday, unused to casual conversations and friendly low calorie invitations – low calorie, she didn’t mean low calorie, she meant low-key, she wasn’t drunk but she felt disoriented… she faced it, she felt frightened.
The grumpy woman who was actually friendly, the man who had wanted to buy her a drink and who Jay had thought was walking towards her, the lad who hauled her up onto the wall, Ed in the pub, the quiz he’d spoken about, Em and Gem, the team she Jay had agreed to join…
Jay felt panicked, there was no fight mode, only flight mode. She had locked the front door, checked the backdoor, glanced at the windows, checking they were properly shut, had run upstairs and then stopped on the landing. Her heart was pounding, she couldn’t catch her breath, her mouth was dry, she felt sick, she felt cold, she felt hot. She held onto the bannister rail, not to stop herself from falling or fainting, but to stop herself from running into her bedroom ad packing a bag.
The fanlight in the bathroom was open and through it she could still hear music from The Otter. It was a woman singing, no longer the band and it took a moment to recognise the old song. Jay couldn’t hear the words, just the rhythm and melody and the woman’s confident, powerful voice.
Jay stood up and tried to breathe deeply as she’d been taught, tried to bring herself down from flight mode, tried to land and stand, stand strong. She couldn’t hear the lyrics but she caught the refrain, ‘something inside so strong’.
Slowly she went back downstairs. This wasn’t going to beat her, she’d come so far, left so much behind. She had come here to stop running, she’d run far enough, left everything she knew, everything she was, everything.
Dammit, I need another pint.
She didn’t, it was an excuse, a reason to go back to the pub, back to the music, back to Otterfest.