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Little Town of Nowhere

by Charlotte Clark about a year ago in europe
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Abbots Langley

Sky on fire.

Quaint. If I had to describe the little village I grew up in, I would call it quaint. Entrapped by large, looming skyscrapers on every side, the small town of Abbots Langley is a welcome break. A break from the never-ending, frantic lives lived in the concrete blockades that squashed and slowly shrunk my home. I lived right next to the main road. We only had one. It ran from the top of the hill, upon which I lived, to the bottom where our only train station stood; derelict and forgotten. A high street atop the hill was the centre of our quiet English village. It was surrounded on one side by pubs and a school, while if you looked the other way, your view held endless, rolling hills of farms and parks and winding country lanes. It was a bubble; isolated from the city life that seemed to be watching us, waiting for us, in every direction.

As a kid I always dreamt of leaving my little town of nowhere and making something of myself in the city. It didn’t really matter which city; any would do - so long as it wasn’t here. I find myself realising that everything I used to despise about this quaint escape, I now long to hold on to just little longer. But while life may run slower here, it cannot rewind time, nor can it stop it altogether. I realise my memories - of young me and my little band of outcasts wreaking havoc and seizing the day - will now only ever be that: a memory. It is an unavoidable truth that us, sneaking to the back fields to drink whatever we could get our hands on and sitting, squashed, on the rusted tractor at the corner of the Jones’ field, will never happen again. The same field I had my first kiss with that boy from two towns over. I can’t remember his name and his face has faded like worn writing on a page, but the crisp, autumn air of that day lingers in my memory, potent and eternal.

It’s ironic, we used to sit there, perched a three-quarter way up our hill and look down on the shimmering sea of car lights that set the M25 alight in the darkness. Every Friday night we would make our way there and dare ourselves. Not the childish game of dares you see in films. No, I mean the soul-crushing, gut-wrenching dare that was to dream. At any other time, they would sound ridiculous, we would laugh them off and dismiss them like we would an uninvited younger sibling. But something about sitting in the darkness and watching the lights come and go, catching a glimpse of a different life from afar, made it feel hopeful and magical - possible, even. We had outrageous dreams. Dreams of moving to London. Going to university. Starting a business. Working a 9 to 5 office job; we didn’t have offices in Abbots Langley. That's all they were: dreams.

But that’s the thing about my quaint town; it’s kind and caring and feels like home, but in an addictively safe way. You live there and you die there. As you walk down the high street you give that polite nod of your head to every person you pass, all of whom you know all about. Barry the war veteran, volunteers in the community café whenever he can because otherwise the bottle will look too appealing. Lisa the hairdresser, always smiling because if she didn’t the vultures would see the cracks left behind from her husband’s passing. Debra the proud single mother, or at least she was until he left for the States and never looked back; never came back.

You know everyone, and you care about them too, and it’s nice. But if you come to care too much, you may find yourself never leaving. My quaint little town of nowhere has a charm about it that many fall victim to. But they don’t mind. Why would they? It’s peaceful. Quaint.

europe

About the author

Charlotte Clark

Bro.

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