‘This is crazy,’ Bradley said, picking up his suitcase to test the weight of it. It was too light to contain everything that a man would need to run away from home and start a new life, yet there he was about to do exactly that. ‘It’s utter madness.’
‘Brad, I can’t stay here,’ Sue replied. She had three suitcases, two backpacks, and a purse that was threatening to explode. How she could move around so easily when she had so much to carry was beyond Bradley. She made it look so easy, and was even able to put one of her hands on her hips.
‘Do you want me to help you with those?’ he asked her. Sue waved a hand at him, picking up all three suitcases in one fluid movement.
‘I don’t want help. I want to get out of here as quickly as possible.’ She frowned at Bradley’s single suitcase, judging it with her dark eyes. ‘Is that it? That’s all you’re taking with you? We’re not going on a holiday here, Bradley. You can’t come back in a few weeks to pick up the rest of your stuff.’
‘I know. But it seems pretty pointless to take a lot of stuff with me. None of it’s that important anyway, and most of it will just remind me of home.’
‘We’ll have a new home soon enough.’
‘Yeah, I guess.’ Bradley carried his suitcase over to the door, then halted, putting it down and spinning around to face Sue again.
She was stood directly in front of him, looking like an overburdened horse.
‘What is it? Are you having second thoughts? I thought you loved me, Brad, I thought you were willing to do anything to make this work.’
‘I do – I will,’ Bradley insisted. He did. He would. There was nothing that should have been tying him to his flat, no reason for him to remain there, and yet … ‘I just like it here, is all.’
‘I … I just do.’
‘Bradley,’ Sue groaned. The sound of his name was almost as powerful as the thud of her suitcases hitting the floor. ‘We agreed that we were going to leave it all behind and start again.’
‘And I do agree, I do! But we’re not teenagers anymore, Sue. I don’t see why we have to be so secretive and sneaky about all this. Are you afraid that somebody will try to persuade you to stay?’
Sue huffed, her arms folded across her chest. For a few seconds, they stood there staring at one another, the tension thick between them. Then, avoiding Bradley’s question, she picked up her suitcases and pushed past him, through the door and outside, struggling towards the car.
‘If you’re coming with me,’ she shouted over her shoulder, ‘then I suggest you hurry up.’
Bradley picked up his suitcase and followed her out of the block of flats. His place on the sixth floor seemed a long way away, now. He glanced around at the building as he walked along the path, wondering where he would end up next.
If things didn’t work out with Sue, then he could always return – to the neighbourhood, if not to the flat. He had friends who would let him crash with them until he found his feet again, and although sleeping on a couch was not what he had expected to be doing at twenty-eight, it was good enough for a backup plan.
In the meantime, he decided, returning his attention to Sue and the car, it was best to follow what he had promised through. Sue was only going by what they had agreed – she was only giving Bradley the push he needed to leave.
He put his suitcase in the car and helped Sue to load all of her belongings in, too. She complained under her breath, but allowed him to assist.
Yes, Bradley decided, Sue was being forceful, but only because he wanted her to be. Bradley needed her to persuade him to start over again. Left to his own devices, he would never have been able to find the strength.
He would never be too old to try again.