She’d wanted a vacation from her stressful life. That’s how it began. “Just a couple of weeks,” she’d said. “That’s enough to get it out of my system.”

She’d known that she wasn’t fooling herself when she’d asked for it. It wasn’t just that she was getting away for a bit. It was her opportunity to finally explore the desires she just couldn’t share with those around her. 

She’d made sure that she could stay for longer if she wanted to. A temp job that had come to a natural conclusion. Friends she’d gradually drifted away from. Family too busy with their own dramas to look in on her’s. Plenty on deposit to cover the rent for awhile.

She’d found the gym not just great preparation, but also a great help in burning off some of the nerves as the date approached. Listening to the files as she trained soothed the rest. 

Soon, they promised. Soon.

She’d known exactly what to do when the day arrived. Where to go. When. What she needed to bring. The certainty kept her calm as she boarded the flight. The long haul gave her the opportunity to listen unbroken and undisturbed. 

“My vacation has begun,” she whispered to herself.

She’d slipped the earbuds out long enough to clear customs and baggage claims without attracting attention. Admiring glances were thrown her way, but outwardly there was nothing to give away how far along the process she’d already come.

She’d sank into the passenger seat of the car, the upholstery cool to her skin at first. There’d been no resistance when she’d been given the bag and told to change. There’d been no resistance when she’d handed over her vanilla clothes and everything else she’d brought with her. There’d been no resistance as the earbuds had been nestled in for the final leg of her journey.

She’d watched from the back of her mind as her body obeyed as if on autopilot. Each stride from the car to the bed had taken her deeper still, each step a positive acceptance that this was what she willingly wanted. 

“I’m on vacation,” she sighed, as the spiral on the screen caught her attention and emptied her mind of her last thoughts … for now …