With each step forward the young woman’s blue dress swayed at her weary knees and her curls blew out behind her. The sun was beating down on the road and the train tracks beside her, making the breeze welcome through her hair and across the bare skin of her arms. She pulled the brim of her hat further down over her face. The rays of the sun made such fair skin object to its heat, but the flowers beside her begged for more, turning their bodies to bow in gratitude. The woman observed them longingly, wishing for the same sense of satisfaction. She had already walked a long way and had no idea if she was close to her destination. How much longer was she supposed to go? She had been walking aimlessly for what felt like days. Though her body was tired, it was the best she had felt in years.
She came to a crossroads, pulled out a paper from her purse and looked down at the address curled up in her hand. It had her next life all planned out on it but not an inkling of which way to go or how to get there. Frustrated, she crumbled it. She recalled what the man at the gate had said, trying to make sense of it. “Walk the road until the crossing, where you will take the right road, and find that it never ends.” She looked down, brows furrowed. He smiled at her and beckoned her away from the train and through the gate.
The right didn’t seem like the right way. The right side was dark and filled with shadows across the horizon. Not a good place for a young lady to be alone, not that she was all that young. However, the traveling had somehow made her feel renewed. Straight ahead was the same road continuing on, eventually blending with the horizon. There was a haze in the distance and she swallowed hard thinking of the idea of walking even further in this heat. She didn’t even have sunscreen and she would surely resemble a lobster soon enough if she kept on this way. Perhaps the left is the way to go, she thought.
The left was bright, but the hills looming in the distance provided a goal. As she stared, a figure appeared. It was a black dog, with hints of white around his nose and belly. Her face lit up at the sight. “Luke!” She exclaimed. When he finally approached, she reached down and felt the old familiar softness of his short fur. He smelled like the familiar scents of lavender and grass, like home, and the life she left behind. As he always did, Luke patiently sat in her embrace until she was content and ready to move onward. When she finally wiped the tears from her eyes and stood, Luke circled her once, as if checking to make sure all was clear, and walked along the path he came from. He seemed to know it all too well. Following her old friend, they took a left and fell into step together; his tail swinging in tune with the sway of her dress. The direction pleased her. The left was the road less traveled, the hand less used, but the one she relied on.
She could only look ahead for so long, getting antsy at it’s implications. Glancing to the right, the woman noticed they were being followed. It was a shadow, but there was something strange about it. The shadow traveled through the field under the rays of the sun as it should, but it did not have an owner. Beside her, Luke’s hair rose on his back and he broke his stride to lunge after the shadow, which quickly retreated and dwindled to nothing at his advance. Is this the right way? The woman wondered. Stray shadows weren’t too comforting. Luke returned to her side and lead her over the hill she had been watching and waiting for since they left the crossroads.
*To be continued*