With a final push of strength Sissy finally reaches the top of the hill and, lacking the strength to admire the view, sits down.

Still shaking from both fear and exhilaration at what she had just done, she desperately tries to regulate her breathing which is coming in short sharp gasps.

Pulling her leather holdall, now her only possession in the world, towards her she takes out her phone.

Ten missed calls. After four hours already ten missed calls. Surprisingly no message, but then again a message could not hide the pure anger which by now is sure to be raging through him. An anger seen by no one and reserved just for her.

Where is dinner? Where is the glass of his favourite wine? Why is the post not neatly laid out on the kitchen table as it had been for the past twenty years? Why had the dog not been walked? Where on earth is his, if nothing else, predictable wife?

Turning her legs so that she is facing downhill from where she came, Sissy examines the place she has called home since the day she was born. Small, surprisingly grey and almost apologetic in its blandness.

Same houses, same people, same church, same vicar, same shops, same pubs, same cinema, same hopes, same fears all just the same as they had ever been.

A small village at the bottom of a very large hill, whose people arrive usually through birth rather than choice and who then play their part in the village story until one day their story comes to an end and, without any resistance or fuss, they quietly fade away.

And so the story has been generation after generation and the many visitors to the village marvel at how this community is so strong and supportive ‘like in the old days before the youngsters had choices and the world was more simple’.

However the visitors could not be further from the truth as the community in this village is neither strong nor supportive but instead controlling and draining.

The 21st century is nothing more than a threat and, while visitors and their money are welcomed, an extended visit most certainly is not. An extended visit could introduce the world from over the hill which the villagers are brought up to fear.

As a child you would ask what is over the hill only to be fed some story which would forever remain somewhere in the depths of that child’s subconscious.

But Sissy found the 21st century or at least the 21st century found Sissy.

2020 was a terrifying time for the world bringing never before experienced isolation and fear. But something quite remarkable happened to this girl in the village at the bottom of the hill.

As she went from house to house leaving provisions on doorsteps and witnessing death and loss first-hand, having said farewell to both parents, Sissy changed.

Having experienced fear of a kind no one could ever have imagined Sissy decided that what lay over the other side of the hill could not be worse.

And so with no one left here at the bottom of the hill except for a man who played the part of husband in the ever rolling village play Sissy packed a bag and simply left, closing the front door behind her and popping the keys through the letterbox.

Feeling suddenly chilly on top of the hill Sissy looks down at the phone in her hand. Popping the back off she removes the card and gently but firmly pushes it into the damp soil giving it a final tap as though to confirm its final resting place.

And so a new chapter begins. Later in life than perhaps it should but better late than never as her father always said.

Standing to her feet Sissy picks up her bag, swinging it over her shoulder and without looking back she starts her descent to find out what really lies over the other side of the hill.

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