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The dress floated on its hanger, haunting the wardrobe. A spectral confection of yellowing lace and frayed ribbon.

The Bride reached out to caress one of the faded sleeves before dropping her hand and catching her reflection in the antique mirror. It was tarnished, like most of the furniture crowding the room. In this desolate stretch of land, the damp seeped into your bones and traced a fine speckling of mildew on everything it touched. The face staring back at her in the milky glass seemed pale and unfamiliar.

………………

She had been impressed when he first brought her here. Her impending Groom, as darkly inscrutable as the cliffs on which his home had been built so many years ago. …


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The girl watched the plane cut through the sky.

Its silent ascent felt ominous somehow, like the pocket of quiet before a twister hits. An image came to her unbidden; flaming Icarus in the corner of an old master.

A morbid premonition? No, just the senseless thrust of memory. Her college tutor’s office; renaissance print on the wall, encased in a cheap plastic frame.

Biting into her airport sandwich, she choked down a taste like bad milk at the back of her throat. Reduced to watching distant planes take flight, the girl felt sickened by the churn of her thoughts. Every beat of her heart was like the tolling of a bell. Him. Him. …


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Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels

Nothing is more guaranteed to make me feel like a billy-no-mates than a photogenic summer’s day.

Rooftop bars. Music festivals. Beer gardens on sunny afternoons. For anyone with an Instagram account and a crippling sense of inferiority, this time of year can be testing. Especially if your life is more Hot Girl Bummer than Hot Girl Summer right now.

But there is one thing above all others which triggers my friendship FOMO; the Park Hang.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that at the first hint of clear blue skies, every Londoner with an acoustic guitar, a disposable barbecue and a frisbee descends on those sacred green spaces. Whether it’s Hyde Park, Greenwich or Hampstead Heath, on a bank holiday weekend you can barely move for millennials. …


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I wish I could say that I gave up social media with some kind of flourish or ceremony. An inspirational post declaiming my decision to “live in the now, not the when”. A pensive shot of some flowers wilting gently in a vase. A final shout into the virtual void. At least that would suggest that I had some agency in the decision, that it was a positive choice made after weeks of careful soul-searching.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when the thought of opening Twitter or Facebook or, that most aspirational of platforms, Instagram began to fill me with a visceral, creeping dread. I think one morning I just woke up and couldn’t put myself through it anymore. The mental energy it took to quell the feelings of anxiety and self-loathing that followed each scrolling session didn’t seem worth it for the fleeting high of seeing a hedgehog wearing a miniature bow-tie, or an inspirational quote about Fri-yay (cue praise hands emoji!). …


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If, on waking, you feel sadness washing over you like surf on shingle, acknowledge the tidal tug of your fear without allowing it to pull you under. Stand before the breakers and look out to the horizon. Don’t run from your pain. Sit with it. This is where you are today.

Dawdle if you can. Days like these are hard enough without the strain of an imposed routine. Eat toast with real butter and peach jam for breakfast. Daydream at the kitchen table. Paint your eyes with shadow and liner like an Egyptian queen. …

About

Katie Witcombe

Social media officer, aspiring writer, lover of puns. Figuring it out as I go along.

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