A graduate of Oxford and UCL and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Victoria Princewill is a former management consultant turned freelance writer and debut novelist. She has worked in the private and public sector, at Accenture, Demos & the Financial Times, and for a number of tech startups. As a writer, her work has been published by titles including BBC News, the Guardian, the Independent and the London Review of Books. She has spoken on various panels for schools, conferences, salons and the BBC World Service on race, gender, art and contemporary culture.
As a Story Terrace writer, Victoria provides professional ghostwriting services to capture customers’ life stories through carefully crafted anecdotes. Below is an anecdote of her own. Get in touch today to work with her!
Seeking the Unfamiliar
The final passenger had stepped off the coach. Groaning under the weight of her heavy backpack, the girl had still managed a beatific smile as she turned to wave goodbye. I had been holding my breath in anticipation. Every passenger had been lovely; each on their own journey, their own potent reason to take them through Rome and I had on some level enjoyed hearing about them. The forthright extroversion of American travellers held a warmth that my British reserve both leaned towards and withdrew from. It was unfamiliar, but as the coach hurtled down rickety streets towards my hotel, olive gold sunlight roaring through dusty windows, I realised that, in a sense, unfamiliar was what I had searched for, all along.
My footsteps were light as I slipped out of the door. My pulse was racing and I feared I might tumble in my eagerness to arrive. I stood on the pavement, the smell of the exhaust seeping into my skin as the coach rolled away, leaving me motionless on an empty street with the amber rays beaming on the back of my neck.
I hesitated. The door to the hotel stood before me, a smooth rich timber with an ornate handle. I could turn, go in, register at the reception, heave my case up the stairs, unpack my things and wait for my friend. I could do that.
The street before me rolled on. Young tender trees stretched ardently upwards, dimpled the ground, seeking the sky. Sunlight peaked through a flurry of leaves and I found myself wondering where the road led. I could wait for my friend and we could find out together. Hand in hand, giddy with excitement, ready to explore adulthood in a foreign city. Or I could let the unfamiliar take me, now, without warning. I could wander down this street, eyes turned towards the sandstone buildings, legs skipping between the trees. I could enjoy this rare silence, in a tourist’s city, at the height of summer.
It would probably only last a moment; a dog would appear, or a stroller. Another coach might come whistling around the corner.
I thought for a minute, holding my breath.
Then I decided.