Taking Flight

Jane was celebrating her freedom from all those exams

You haven’t slept this late for ages,” said Elizabeth, observing her younger sister’s bleary eyes across the breakfast table. “Heavy night?”

“End of year party,” muttered Jane, swallowing an aspirin. “It went on for longer than usual, what with everyone saying goodbye.”

“Right. So now school’s over, what are you planning to do with yourself?”

Elizabeth is always so organised, thought Jane. Can’t she see I need a break? This last term with all those exams has been a killer.

“I’m going to seriously relax for a long time while I plan my future.”

She hoped the cup of black coffee would help. This was definitely a hangover…

“A future which will include Rod Stewart’s concert in December.”

“You’ve always been a Rod Stewart fan, haven’t you?” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Those sort of concerts would be too noisy for me. And too expensive.”

“A girl deserves a treat once she has finished with school. And I might invite Dad, he loves Rod Stewart too.”

“I expect you’re hoping he’ll also pay for the tickets.”

Jane grinned. Her sister knew her rather too well.

“Well if he wants to spoil his youngest daughter, who am I to refuse him?”

Jane and her father were usually on the same page about a lot of things, especially music.

“Dad said you were thinking of doing a course in landscape gardening?”

“Well, it sounds interesting and I have to do something, I suppose. I can’t just sit around doing nothing.”

Elizabeth snorted. “I’ve never thought you were interested in gardening.”

“I’m not really, although I could learn like the odd flower or two. But any course that doesn’t involve opening dreary thick books will be fine.”

Her sister scooped up the breakfast plates and started washing up before Jane had finished her coffee. There’s such a thing as being too efficient, she thought, but her head still throbbed and she watched Elizabeth dry the dishes and put them away.

“So, what are you going to do today on your first day of freedom?”

“A bit of shopping for some badly-needed new gear. Want to come with me?”

“No thanks.” Elizabeth shuddered delicately. “I can’t think of anything worse than trailing behind you while you try on every item in every shop. And what do you need new clothes for? You have
loads already.”

“I need new clothes for the new me! Come on, Lizzie, we could have fun. Leave the dishes for once.”

“No thanks.”

Jane shook her head. Long ago her sister had assumed the role of housekeeper, and she wasn’t about to stop now.

An hour later Jane was rummaging through the racks of clothes on her favourite market stall.

“What d’you think?” Jane held up a saucy black skirt, the slit on the side dangerously near her pantie-line.

“You’ve got the legs for that, so I say, go for it!” The stall owner beamed. “And how about this silver Lurex top to go with it, sweetheart? Planning a party?”

“I might be.”

Thinking about it, a party would be a great way to start this new chapter in her life. Jane bought both garments and threw in a red velvet jacket which begged to be taken home.

She was wandering back along the High Street, enjoying a rum and raisin ice cream cone, when she spotted a tattoo parlour.

Although she knew that many of the girls at school had tattoos in places that weren’t too obvious, she’d resisted one of her own. But now she was free to have whatever she liked.

Why not a red and blue dragon winding itself up her leg? She’d always fancied one of those, although such a big tattoo might hurt a lot and she didn’t do pain well.

From the catalogue of designs she selected a demure black swallow and lay on the studio bed while the heavily tattooed artist needled it onto her ankle. It was surprisingly painless.

A swallow – the symbol of free flight, she thought in satisfaction. I have some savings, maybe I should travel next year too?

She knew just what Elizabeth would say, and there was no hiding her ankle from the sharp eyes of her sister.

“Oh, my heavens! What is that? Please tell me you haven’t…!”

“I have!” grinned Jane. “It’s a mark of freedom. Like it?”

“Not really.” Elizabeth looked horrified but then relented. “As a symbol it’s quite appropriate, I suppose. Flying away from your past.”

“And into my future.” Jane examined her ankle cheerfully. “I can’t tell you how happy I am not to be Head of the History department any more.”

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