The church door closed softly behind me as I walked along the gentle, quiet streets, bags packed and masses of money filling my pockets. I was ready to leave. Tall buildings formed a cage around the city, staring upwards to the sky, seemingly forgetting those of us who lived here. They didn't shout or impose or suffocate; they were just a quiet reminder of our insignificance. We were just a spot of dust watching a world much bigger than us. Not that we minded.
There was always something comforting in being so small, a faint whisper in a world full of noise. Silence brought with it a magic, a beauty, a wonder in that we could admire and appreciate every little thing we saw without interruption. We were free from duties, free from responsibility.
But we were still trapped.
Small stones littered our streets, always finding their way into shoes and sandals, as though they hoped they'd one day be taken somewhere else, always disappointed when no-one ever left. It wasn't because we couldn't; the Outside was just a stone's throw away. No, it was because we enjoyed our simple lives. Or, at the very least, we thought we did.
Sometimes, a sense of restlessness would slip over the city. People would begin to ask each other what the Outside was like. Children would draw pictures of oceans and dragons. A rush of anticipation would crash into us as we too craved to cross rivers, climb mountains, and battle demons. A new life would sweep over the city as people excitedly told of their plans for adventure.
I smiled slightly.
The energy pumping through the city, the bright smiles people shared, the recognition of a world much bigger than ourselves, paired with the desire to become a part of that world - it was beautiful. It was right.
But the comfort of our city would always win out.
Plans would fade away into stories, jokes to laugh about, or else they'd be forgotten. The walls of the city deflected them back towards us, almost mocking, I thought. As if we would ever leave. We were born to be small, ruled by our comfort, like mice trapped in a cage.
We were all content, not quite happy, but content. The old people never were though, oddly enough. They told tales of the Outside world that had been passed down from generation to generation, often begging us to leave. To travel and explore. We'd look at them in confusion and reassure them that we were fine where we were. They'd shake their heads and smile sadly, never letting us forget that they'd once thought the same way, and they were wrong, so we were wrong.
I always listened to them. Their stories were fascinating, exhilarating. It was only as I walked down the quiet, sleeping streets that I truly felt a desire to be a part of them.
Not just a fleeting wish that vanished as quickly as it appeared. Not with the mild interest we so closely associated with the Outside. I wanted to leave.
I wanted to travel and run and meet new people. To sing and dance and be happy. Not just content, or satisfied, but filled to the brim with joy. I wanted to feel the rush of adrenaline pumping through my veins as I reached the top of a mountain. I wanted to feel the crash of waves against my body as I lay in the sand. I wanted to run through forests, chase deer and catch dreams. I wanted to live in the world around me.
Not just watch it.
I found myself walking closer and closer to the edge of the city, slipping past the tall buildings, a rare sense of excitement flooding my mind.
Still, the beautifully tended gardens I walked through were so appealing. The perfect displays of flowers, row after row after row. The forever green grass and tall trees whispered that I should stay. The rush of the river beckoned me towards it. Surely it was as good as any ocean.
I resisted the urge to go back. I knew what I wanted.
I turned to admire the gardens that marked the pathway out, and the streets that marked the place I lived - used to live. I smiled almost regretfully in farewell as I looked at the trees and the flowers and the river, assuring them that I would return. This was home.
But now was the time for adventures, the time for excitement and the time to explore.
Quiet comfort can never be enjoyed without the echo of something loud.
The trees' soft voices drifted past my ears as I turned my back on the tulips, smiling with the knowledge that, one day, I would return.