THE STORY SO FAR: Ingrid’s father Bob has been in hospital for a week, after suffering a fall, but is due to be discharged the next day. For comfort, Ingrid buys a bottle of the expensive perfume she loves, and which had been worn by Rose, an elderly woman she’d met on the train. Walking on the beach, Ingrid is lost in thought about her life. When she reaches her favourite bench on the beach, near a striking blue house, she sits for a while, closes her eyes and mulls over the decisions she needs to make. Ingrid’s thoughts are interrupted by a familiar voice. Rose. Delighted to see her, the two sit and talk again, and Ingrid tells Rose that she’s been offered a work promotion she doesn’t want. Later that afternoon, back home, Ingrid tells her husband Jack about the promotion and informs him that, not only will she not be taking it, but she’ll be resigning completely.
December would arrive soon. Her favourite month of the year. From where she sat, she could see into their long back garden, and her eyes followed a darting robin from the covered patio table to the washing line and back. Singing his little heart out with joy. Or perhaps it was a war song? Either way, it made her smile.
She moved the tea to the side table and stretched her legs out. Monday mornings. Never her favourite moments of the week. It was time to make the call.
It rang four times and she wondered if the answerphone would cut in, but on the fifth ring, a familiar voice answered.
‘Ingrid, where are you? Are you ill?’
This was the moment she’d rehearsed for much of the weekend. She took a deep breath. ‘No, I’m not, Karin,’ Ingrid said.
‘We have a 10 o’clock with the board. You haven’t forgotten? Has something happened?’
‘Yes, in a manner of speaking,’ Ingrid replied, forcing herself to talk slowly.
‘I’ve thought a great deal about this and I’ve made the decision to resign. I won’t be coming back. I have 18 days of annual leave owing and I’ll forgo my salary for the remainder of the month. My apologies for leaving like this but it’s the right thing to do.’
‘You have a three-month notice period,’ Karin replied, her voice heavy with disbelief.
‘I think you’ll find I haven’t signed that contract yet,’ Ingrid said, trying to sound light-hearted.
There was a long pause. In the office behind Karin, Ingrid heard another phone ring and the sounds of her colleagues, her ex-colleagues, busily starting their day. The relief that she would never again be part of the melee surged through her.
This was it. She was actually doing this. She had actually done it! She was free.
‘What the hell, Ingrid?’
‘It’s the right thing to do.’
‘I can’t believe you’re letting me down like this,’ Karin eventually said. ‘After all these years.’
‘I’m sorry but I need to leave.’
‘Where are you going?’
Ingrid smiled. The robin launched itself up from the washing line and disappeared over the hedge in a burst of wild energy.
‘Nowhere,’ Ingrid replied. ‘I’m going absolutely nowhere, and that’s precisely the point.’
Karin’s sigh was angry. ‘You’ve just been offered a directorship!’
‘Yes, and I appreciate the sentiment. But…I’m not interested in becoming a director, Karin. Not any more. I just want to be me.’
Ingrid hesitated. ‘I don’t expect you to understand. I’m not even 100% sure I do. But what I do know is that I need to leave. I need to discover what it is that I want to do for the rest of my life. I have to find contentment again. That is why I’m resigning.’
She could picture Karin at the end of the line, her face pinched into disgust at the words that would mean so very little to her.
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