Travel is frequently a foray into the unknown, at least in part. During a recent short trip to NY, I had to be flexible and go with the flow; in doing so, I experienced the present to a greater extent than I do in my everyday life. When it comes to travel, I'm a planner, and I do think ahead (I was diligent about printing out boarding passes within 24 hours of my departures), but I do not plan every single detail, because freedom and spontaneity are also important parts of travel. Having too rigid of a schedule, in travel (or in life), does not appeal much to me.
In the short story A Journey by Irish author Edna O'Brien (born December 15, 1930, in Twamgraney, County Clare, Ireland), a couple takes a journey together; travel is also a metaphor for the unknown. The main character is a woman who's taking a trip with an attractive man, Boyce (who lives with a woman, Madge, and their baby).
"To venture loving him was like crossing the Rubicon--also daft. Also dicey. A journey of pain. She had no idea then how extensive the journey would be."The story sensitively highlights the woman's thoughts about the situation; she's quite aware of her precarious position. Boyce wants his travel companion to remain a secret (she is unnamed in the story) as they travel from London to Scotland. Along with the heady excitement of the attraction is a feeling of marked uneasiness; the affair has just started and she questions the man's dedication to her, and to the woman he lives with and their young child as well. Boyce makes it clear that their romance must be kept clandestine, at least for the time being, and offers no promises for the future.
~A Journey, Edna O'Brien
Edna O'Brien realistically portrays a scenario in which a woman's internal monologue expresses the numerous, inherent difficulties of the situation created by her impulsive choices; she is anxious and worries about a future with Boyce which may not be so rosy, which may not even exist. The author captures the angst of this couple, particularly of the woman, and this journey causes her a great deal of insecurity, understandably so. A Journey demonstrates Edna O'Brien's incredible ability to capture the emotions, inner voice, and thoughts of a woman.
I read this short story in the book Women & Fiction: Short Stories by and about Women, edited by Susan Cahill, for Irish Short Story Week, hosted by Mel from The Reading Life. Happy St. Patrick's Day to my readers!