The Hopeful Wanderer 3 – The Bravest Thing

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One evening, the stars looked down at me and asked, “Wanderer, you have traveled so far. What do you seek?”

I sat below them on an open, grassy hill. Points of light blazed overhead, like colorful jewels set in a black velvet cloth, twinkling expectantly.

“Hope, I think,” I replied.

For a moment, they said nothing. A light breeze shuffled blades of grass around me, bringing the cool scent of night with it.

“You are very brave,” the stars said at last. “We will keep watch for you.”


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The Hopeful Wanderer 2 – When the Park Slept

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I came upon the rusting ruins of an ancient amusement park far, far away from civilization. Its Ferris wheel soared into the clear sky, the broken spokes and missing seats like the popped blood vessels in a drunkard’s eyeball. Next to this, a single roller coaster loop made another eye, and there, a dry water slide snaking along below the two became the thin line of a mouth. Thick, green trees framed the background; they had the patience for a slow takeover.

Carnival music still sounded from some of the rides, tinny notes enticing absent crowds. A drop tower ride plunged downward, eliciting no thrilled screams. Lights flickered above the ring-toss booths. Moldy stuffed animals with black button eyes watched me pass. The air smelled nothing like popcorn or cotton candy and everything like damp and rot. I stopped in the central plaza and craned my head back to look at the Ferris wheel eye.

“Tired,” the park said to me, voice like shrieking gate hinges. “So very tired.”

“Then rest,” I replied. “Time has already been and gone in this place.”

With a wheezing, billowing sigh, the noises of the abandoned park ceased all at once. Ride carts ground to a halt, one or two bulbs popped in a shower of sparks as the lights went out, and the ticket stand shutters rattled closed. No music sounded, leaving only the rush of wind blowing through the treetops.

I stood listening to the silence a moment, until hesitant birdsong began to rise. Then I exited the park gates, leaving the ruin to its well-earned slumber.


I’m always tired, so please consider buying me a coffee to keep me awake while I write the next story.

The Hopeful Wanderer 1 – A Barren Heart

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In my wanderings, I often find myself traipsing a barren land. From horizon to horizon the ground stretches dry and cracked, riddled like puzzle pieces with the long-gone memory of water. Gray haze blows across the sky, blocking out the sunlight like smoke from an unseen fire. But I smell no ash, only empty heat. Taste no soot, just grainy dirt between my teeth. Plates of ancient mud snap beneath my shoes as I plod across acres and acres of desert.

I never know how I arrive here, but I always know my destination: anywhere else.

In the wavy distance, other figures walk. Black silhouettes, mere smudgy suggestions of people. Some toward my destination, others across my path, a few back the way I came. Always anonymous and alone. When I approach them, they scurry away, perhaps seeing in me nothing but the void-cut shape of a human, same as how I see them. Little eddies of brown dust spiral between us, growing and growing in height, towering upward. When a silhouette steps into one of these, both dust devil and person vanish in a twist of crimson spray. I make it a point to avoid these.

Though at times I walk a lonely space made for dying, I one day or the next step out of it. When my feet find soft grass, when rain droplets cool my parched skin, when clean air fills my lungs again, I raise my bowed head and wander ever onward. Yet no matter how many times I escape, I know that I will continue to return.

 


 

I’m always tired, so please consider buying me a coffee to keep me awake while I write the next story.