Moving Out And Moving On
Claire taped the cardboard box shut and sighed. She stood up, wiping a bead of sweat from under her headband as she admired her handiwork. Her small studio apartment was completely empty, except for the sea of boxes. She was anxious, but mostly excited to move away from her college town and live somewhere completely new.
Her friends had spent the last few months begging her not to go, but Claire insisted that she had to. There was still a part of her that wanted to stay, but that would’ve been too easy, and she’d never been one to back away from a challenge.
The moving truck was supposed to arrive at seven the next morning. Checking her phone, Claire saw that it was nearly 3am. She supposed that if she went to sleep now she could still get in a few hours, but she had a six-pack of energy drinks in the fridge. That would have to be enough to get her through a full day of driving.
The sky was pitch black, but Claire still wanted to walk around town one last time. She grabbed a jacket, slipped some pepper spray into her pocket and left. She paused, taking in the view from her door. Tomorrow was going to be too chaotic to reminisce, and she didn’t want to forget anything about her first real apartment. She grabbed her phone and took a picture; it was too dark to really see anything, but Claire would know.
She didn’t have a plan on where she was going and ended up wandering around for a while. Eventually she found herself outside of the nightclub that her and her friends would frequent. The place had a giant window that looked right into the middle of the dance floor, and Claire was curious to see if her friends were inside.
She cupped her hands around her eyes and leaned up against the window. Claire could recognize three of her friends standing in their usual spot. She saw Tara’s “gong out dress” that she had bought their sophomore year, and smiled as she watched Sarah try to do the splits, falling onto a stranger instead. Another picture was taken, and Claire planned to send it to their group chat in the morning.
She was startled when a security guard came up and asked if she needed anything, and Claire assured him she was leaving. As she walked down the deserted road, there was suddenly a gaping hole in her stomach. The excitement for the unknown had left and was replaced with sadness.
Without thinking, she ended up at a park near her old college. In the early days, when she would get homesick or overwhelmed, she always went there to be alone. Claire sat on a swing and checked her phone again. It was four thirty, and the sky was starting to get lighter. She realized that her moving truck was going to show up in about two hours and groaned, letting her head fall into her hands.
Claire went through lists in her head to distract herself, making sure that she remembered to pack everything, but it didn’t work. Packing was something she excelled at; there was no way she forgot anything, and knowing that didn’t help the pit in her stomach.
The lists in her head faded away and she found herself thinking about her friends. At this time, they were probably trying to get back to one of their apartments. Claire wondered if they would miss her. She thought about how happy they had looked and wanted to cry again.
Claire sat on that swing until five. She didn’t leave until five thirty. Right as she was about to turn onto the street that went back to her apartment, she turned around and took a picture of the park.
Even though it was light outside, Claire’s apartment was still dark. All of the blinds were down and boxes were stacked in front of the windows. Seeing those boxes lined up perfectly made Claire irrationally angry. She couldn’t pinpoint where the anger was coming from, but it was all that she could feel.
She stared at the boxes to her left, the ones that were next to the door, and knocked it over. It wasn’t aggressive; the push was more of a test. The boxes tumbled down and one spilled open, shoes scattering across the room. That set Claire off. Suddenly she was everywhere; boxes were thrown at the walls, and others were ripped open, their contents spilling all over the floor. She didn’t know when she started crying, she could feel the tears running down her face. A few of her fingers were bleeding, but that didn’t matter.
As soon as all of the boxes were either opened or destroyed, Claire fell to the floor, clutching her chest as she sobbed. She was sure that her neighbors were probably mad for all of the noise so early in the morning, but she didn’t care. In a few hours they wouldn’t be her neighbors anymore.
Eventually the tears stopped, and Claire found herself laying on the floor amongst the chaos. There was a knock on the door, and she checked her phone. The time was just after seven.
more by CASSIE GAMMIE
photograph by Cedric Bruce