www.whyville.net Feb 26, 2012 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

The Road

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Once upon a time, if I may dare to use such a broad word, there was a little girl. This girl was traveling down a never-ending road; or so she thought. We all have been taught that supposedly everything has an end, so perhaps only her stretch of road to walk would end. The road itself, however, had never seemed to break off anywhere in particular.

The road was worn from travelers past; hills proved to be blocking the little girl's view of the end; no one else seemed to be walking alongside her, which scared her at first. Surely there must have been someone else - anyone else - journeying with her? Eventually she learned to become at home in her solitude. This became easier when she realized that just over the trees and shrubbery that lined her road there were surely other roads that everyone else, too, had to walk alone.

"Mundane" seemed to be the most effective word to describe her personal trail. It was nice enough, she supposed, but something was just . . . missing. The occasional animal would scuttle over the path and the weather did like to change quite frequently. Sometimes the road would inflict her with certain feelings, this seemingly at random. One minute a palpable sense of doom would hang over her until her body automatically set her legs off running. Perhaps after a few minutes of running the dread would be lifted from her subconscious and she could amble down the road in peace, basking in the tranquility that outrunning her apprehension provided her with.

Sometimes she'd see a little flower growing along the road where it met the shrubs. Flowers weren't commonplace here; plant life was reserved for the very sides of her confinement and it wasn't there for the sake of aesthetics. When she found her first flower a wave of relief washed through her, coating her mind with a sense of security and providing a sense of companionship.

The flowers came and went like her road-inflicted feelings and the weather did. All of a sudden she'd realize she had dropped a flower; or she'd glance down at her hand to find it'd withered or turned into a hideously different plant altogether. It always saddened her to let flowers go. These little tokens of color and beauty always became comforting presences, but she never did care to backtrack and find the ones she had lost. Backtracking was too much work, and sometimes it sent sadness coursing through her until she gave up her search and turned right back around.

One day, though, she saw a most peculiar thing. It was another flower; this one was brighter and seemed to have more detail than all the others. The oddest feature of this flower, however, had to be its placement. The stem had managed to force itself out of a particularly nasty crack in the road, almost like an extended hand there for her aid. The girl quickly picked the flower, feelings she'd never before experienced on her road flitting through her. With the incentive of getting to keep the flower, she leapt over the crack carefully. Upon landing on the other side she set back on her now merry little way.

This flower stayed for quite awhile, and all the little flowers she continued stumbling upon on the side of the road always seemed a little brighter, too, after joining the presence of the original. The side-of-the-road flowers continued to come and go, but her flower never seemed to lose itself.

One day, though, her flower inexplicably disappeared from her hand. As quickly as she had pulled it from the road it was gone. As soon as she realized this her hand slackened on the few other tiny flowers she was holding and they fell to the road. For a very long time the girl did not care to pick up any new flowers; a sadness she hadn't before felt had suddenly manifested itself in her and it made her hesitant to launch into full sprint when the atmosphere prompted her to.

When she did start running she ran harder and faster than she had ever done previously. She suddenly wanted to see the end of the road - see what it promised her and what lovely things it might hold. The little girl ran like this for a very long time, but eventually a thought crossed her mind. This road had clearly been traveled before her, and who was to say it wouldn't be after? She wanted the next person who had to run and walk and jump down the road to have as easy of a time as possible. She was being selfish, she decided. So gradually she slowed her pace, allowing herself to veer off of the road every now and then and arrange the shrubbery into nicer patterns. There wasn't much one could do on such a seemingly plain road but she did what she was capable of.

And so the little girl just kept walking down the road, no longer caring where it ended - or what flowers might be found sprouting persistently from the cracks in the pavement - but instead focusing on smoothing over the rough spots for others who would follow her.


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