Alighting the bus, she heard the question, ‘Where are you going?’
For a moment, she looked bewildered and then replied, ‘Wherever this bus is going.’
The driver shrugged and muttered while they engaged in the usual monetary exchange. She sat down and watched the sunny cornfields fly past like strands of blonde hair caught in a gust of wind.
At the station she got off and alighted another bus. “Where are you going?”
Eight buses later, the engine died. She was the last passenger left before its destination. It was dark and the driver suggested she find lodgings for the night, the company would reimburse her later. She nods and utters some thanks, but wants to keep moving. Besides, she’s out of money anyway.
She follows the road, keeping moving. The moon’s reflection in the glassy covering of rain gave light to the asphalt. In the quiet of the night her senses peaked. The slightest rustle in the hedgerow heard. She paused in her step as frog hopped across the road before her.
The time passed, she knew not how long. She noted the motel the driver had recommended. She watched the light flicker within its neon sign, but kept on moving.
Her purpose brought her to a crossroads. There were no signs to indicate where each might lead. A cloud crossed the moon and she was left in the unknowing dark and was puzzled as to which way she should turn.
“Where are you going?”
She felt a leap in her physiology as if someone had woken her from a dream. Her heart responding with a rushing beat of the drum. She drew down her shoulders, to recompose her inner calm.
Before her stood a woman bearing a lamp. A wolfhound stood like a sentry at her left hand, its eyes glimmered as the lamp’s glow captured the depths of its soul. The hound carried a wisdom that spanned ages. Her gaze moved from the hound to the woman. Her habituated answer faltered.
“Wherever this road is going.”
The lamp bearer turned her head in each of the directions she could go. In the spectral glow of the lamp, her face appeared to transform. At first she seemed to have a serpentine face, but then it appeared more equine. On the third turn it was bovine, but she was not sure.
The traveller became anxious and looked back down the road from where she came. When she turned back to the lamp bearer and her hound, they were beginning to disappear.
“No, don’t go”, she pleaded. “I don’t want to go back.”
“What do you want?”
“To keep moving.”
The apparition pointed her lamp again toward each of the three roads before her, and again, as her head turned it appeared to change. First she was as young as the traveller: innocent, unknowing, with no purpose, no destination, living in the moment of her existence. As the face turned, it shifted to that of a mother, a nurturer of those who chose this path. Toward the third road, her face transfigured into the visage of one whose life is coming to an end.
The hound remained unmoving at her side, protective yet benign.
“Does your moving have a purpose?”
“My purpose is to keep moving.” She answered doubtfully.
The lamp bearer lifted her lamp in the direction from which the traveller had come. The journey flashed through her mind, rolling backward like a reel of film after a show. She felt a growing sense of failure. There had always been an answer to her problems. If she kept moving, they were always behind her on the road. And she didn’t have to go back. She just had to keep on moving.
With the dawning realisation, she eagerly turned back to face the choices now before her.
All that remained of her encounter was the lamp, centred at the intersection between the roads.
Inspired by Calen’s Sandbox Writing Challenge No. 58: It’s all in your head! Join in!