When the time came to leave it was with disappointment and a sense of the past repeating itself.
So often in the past, he had felt in a similar place only to have it plucked from him.
He liked the freedom of being in the now. The past which haunted him was always there to fall back on, to cast him into the abyss of loneliness a place where so much he was familiar with existed and allowed him to roll in with such a sense of depressing normality.
But here in this place, he was leaving where the furnishings, the ambience and the mood opened his eyes to new possibilities he had felt the exhilaration of a new beginning where he might be freed from the terrors of the past and embrace a state of safety and rest.
He spent plenty of time sitting observing the snails in the aquarium, the pretend girl who served the dinner, who made him his coffee and who at night turned out his light. She had shown him what it might be like to be in charge of his own destiny and he knew he would miss her.
Tomorrow he would return to a life where looking over his shoulder would be the norm, where watching what he said would need all his concentration for fear of the question why?
He looked round one last time, the thought struck him as to why this had to be. Why was he not strong enough to resist the pull of the past? Why couldn’t enjoy the pleasures of the now?
Was he so weak, so inept?
The pretend girl took his hand, bid him farewell and invited him to return. “One day,” she said, “the real me will appear, and you’ll understand the man you can be. Be kind to yourself.”