Walking out, it didn’t take the best of me
You know the hard part’s knowing that it had to end
Staying out, it didn’t take the best of me
But solitude ended up my only friend
Solitude M.S. 1990
The fact that my parents did not see that I was leaving their home was, I guess, an indication of just how they saw me, or didn’t see me. I retrieved my suitcase from the hallway closet where it lived while they were home. I packed my clothes while sitting on the end of the bed, which as I have told you had been moved to in the dinning room next to the dinning room table. The clothes themselves came from the one small chest of drawers I was allowed and the washing basket my father allowed me to use as a hanging area.
The one and only time my father even acknowledged that I was even in the room as I busied myself packing was when I went to the front door to get my sneakers and he growled something mildly offensive about not wearing dirty shoes inside and to get on with my home work so that I had time for his bible studies after dinner.
My mother was nearly as bad, was she drunk? I don’t honestly know, but if she was she was doing a very good job of hiding it, something which I thought was impossible at the age of fifteen. But at fifteen I also did not know just how much Mum was drinking, sure I often saw the bottles she hid from my father, but I had nothing to compare it to because I didn’t understand how alcohol effects people in such vastly different ways. Whether she was drunk or not it didn’t really matter she either didn’t see me sitting on the end of my bed, didn’t see me packing a suitcase and didn’t see me walk through the house to get my sneakers, or if she did, she ignored me. Honestly I did not know which was worse so I chose not to think about either.
In all it probably took me twenty minutes to pack a single suitcase of clothes, I had very little else so it wasn’t like I needed to spend hours packing. Strangely enough the one other thing I did pack, although it was mostly packed when I picked it up, was my school bag and my books. For some strange reason, perhaps it was me desperately wanting to hang on to some form of normality in my life as I packed up what I could and planned to leave home, I was still planning to go to school.
At ten minutes to seven, going by the clock on the wall of the dinning room, a mere ten minutes before my father expected to hear my mother call him for dinner, I stood up, slung my school bag over my left shoulder, picked up the suitcase in my right hand, felt its weight, then walked out of the dinning room.
I don’t believe Mum saw me take those first two steps into the lounge and past the single worst Christmas tree you’ve ever seen, the only sign of Christmas in the Wentworth house. But I know as I walked in front of the television, on which my father was watching the news intently while he awaited his slave to cook dinner, that he saw me because I heard his order.
“Get out of the damn way boy!”
And out of his damn way I was getting as I headed for the front door of the house. The distance to the front door was less than ten steps but in that time I heard nothing other than the TV sports reporter talking about some football game I had no interest in. When I stepped up to the heavy wooden door there was no hesitation, no second thoughts, not even the small steps of a man wanting someone to call him back I simply stepped up to it. At least that’s what I thought as I placed my left hand on the handle and turned it.
The door swung open and I was greeted with a warm evening breeze. Daylight savings had started more than a month earlier and because of that it was still light and the sun was low in the western sky as I stepped out onto the front patio.
I stood on that patio for what might have been ten seconds, I could hear the sound of the TV in the lounge room and I could hear sounds of 1980’s suburbia, sounds like cars, birds and the wind, what I couldn’t hear was voices. I don’t think I was hesitating or second guessing my plans of walking out but maybe somewhere up there in my subconscious brain that I couldn’t access I was. Maybe that secret part of my brain was waiting for someone to call out, to stop me from walking away. Maybe it was hoping for something as simple as someone inside that house actually caring enough to question what I was doing. But if there was such a hope it went unfulfilled.
Instead what I heard was the angry voice of my father coming from the lounge room where he sat, perched on the couch waiting for his summons to dinner. “Shut the fucking door, you’ll let the bugs in!”
Yet again the angry voice of my father was so unlike the voice of the god fearing church goer that I thought I had grown up fearing. The voice might not have been the same but it seemed that I got the message my brain was looking for. I’d reached the door with my suitcase and school bag and all my father could bring himself to say was an order to shut the door.
It was at that moment, hearing my father care more about bugs than about his one remaining son that my brain just kicked into another gear. There was no angry outburst, in fact the only sound was that of me drooping my school bag onto the wooden deck of the patio before I took those two defining steps on to the path that led to our letterbox.
At 6:53:13pm on Wednesday the 18th of December 1985, Reginald Brandon Campbell Wentworth III step over the boundary of the family home and onto the council owned footpath.
At 6:53:14pm on Wednesday the 18th of December 1985, Reginald Brandon Campbell Wentworth III ceased to exist.