It was the kind of dreadful night when the wind stole your breath and the cold burned your eyes and the throbbing, relentless tattoo of the rain on your hood could have lulled you to sleep if it hadn’t been for the terrible chill seeping into the marrow of your bones..
I waited for the bus in the dark. I had been here for an hour and there had been nothing, not even a solitary car and the rain had not let up for a second. I was drenched and alone and had been since I had forced myself and my ridiculous dress out of the bathroom window four hours ago, a head full of champagne bubbles and a bra full of rainwater.
I’d realised when his best man was making his speech and everyone was laughing, even my parents, that I couldn’t stay here, I couldn’t be part of this. I was the only one who found it so infinitely dull and flat and small. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone, surrounded by the people who loved me best in all the world.
I tried not to think about it, so that later I could tell myself it was all a blur. But in truth, I knew exactly what I was doing. I switched my beautiful white satin heels for a pair of grubby flip flops in the Lost Property box in the hotel reception, stole someone’s expensive waterproof overcoat and was gone.
I ran through the mud elated; a white streak of lightning dragging my heavy train of white satin, lace through the dark heart of the storm until the lights of the hotel faded out behind me and I was alone with the night.
When I had run as far as my breath would take me I stopped.
‘You could still go back’ I told myself.
‘And explain why I’m soaked and covered in mud?’ I answered. ‘No thanks.’
This was the way out I hadn’t realised I’d needed until the very second I’d decided to take it. I had £1,000 cash in gift envelopes stuffed into my bodice plus £500 in John Lewis gift vouchers.
I thought about my new husband’s face, realising I was gone. I felt like Lord Lucan, run off in the night to become an aimless coaster, a drifter, a nobody. Only I hadn’t killed anyone - Harry had been dead inside since I’d met him and I? I felt alive for the first time in months! I should have felt horrified, but I felt nothing but hope.
As I waited there in the dark, shivering and absurd, I thought of where I could get a warm room, a bath, clean clothes. I had no idea where I was, or where the bus would take me, but wouldn’t let myself think any further ahead; ‘that way madness lies’ I told myself.
In the distance I saw the glare of headlights in the darkness. I stepped out to meet them...