~ ENIM SAPIENTIA ~
Down an unknown road
To embrace my fate
Though that road may wander
It will lead me to you
( - From "Go the Distance" by David Zippel )
~ * ~
The path ambled along through the rolling hills, stretching away farther than the eye could see. We made our progress slowly, she and I; there was nothing in the world to hurry us and everything to encourage delay.
"Beautiful weather," I observed.
"It's a beautiful view."
I smiled at the silken screen of hair that cascaded down the back of her head. "It certainly is."
She let out a happy sigh. "Sometimes--sometimes I just wish I could walk forever."
"Free of worry, free of care. Under the golden sunlight by day and the starlight by night."
"And when it rains I would dance in it. I would laugh at the thunder. And when the sun came back its grin would dry me."
"It sounds wonderful."
"It does. Just to walk. . . ."
"And who would be walking with you?"
She tensed. I looked away and quickly introduced a different topic. "It's amazing the way the hills are all so alike and yet somehow different. Sort of like people."
"People aren't all alike."
"Oh, but they are. At the bottom of every heart there are the same thoughts, the same dreams. Every heart has the--the same love. Some people just forget that. Some never find it. Some ignore it."
"Jacob--" But she broke off.
"Rachel, I care about you. You know that, don't you?"
She hesitated. Then she said, "Some have to wait for love."
"Wait to find it?"
"Yes, some. But others who've already found it have to wait for the right time."
She bit her lip. We walked on.
All too soon there came a fork in the path. A side road branched off the main. We paused and turned to face one another. "Which way are you going?" I asked. I knew the answer, but I dreaded it. Somehow I hoped feigning ignorance would buy me a few more moments.
She did not respond. She couldn't say it. She only murmured in a tone thick and strained, "Goodbye, Jacob."
"Rachel, please . . ." But I didn't know what I was asking. I examined my shoelaces with a shrug of my shoulders. "'Bye, I guess."
She turned away, hugging her shoulders. Her gracile figure sidled away along her path as I began along mine. But before she escaped earshot I turned with sudden fervor and called out to her.
"Remember what I told you! I care about you. That won't change. Even when paths branch apart, they come back together. They intersect again."
She looked at me. Her eyes were moist and her cheeks glistened in the sunlight. Yet for all that she beamed at me. "I know it."
~ * ~
The next evening I was traveling my lonely path when another came up alongside it, running parallel. Somehow I sensed, before I even looked across the verge, that Rachel was there.
She looked happy. Was there an almost haunted quality to her eye, or did I imagine it? I couldn't be sure. I only caught the corner of its deep beauty before she turned her head in the other direction without even glancing at me. I turned, too.
Neither of us spoke. It would have been too painful. So close and yet so very far.
But beneath the ache in my chest there was something else. Buried far beneath my skin, constrained by the twisting of my heart, it was there: joy. Just a faint glimmer of delicious joy. And somehow through the pain that little joy made me feel as light as air.
Did she feel it?
Ahead the paths diverged. As soon as I caught sight of it I halted. After a few paces, she did the same. My heart pounded as I stood there, gazing at the back of her head, hoping.
She turned. She smiled. My heart soared.
I stepped to her side, keeping on my path but not taking my eyes off her for a moment. I ravenously devoured each passing second spent staring at her. She flushed under my gaze; but the rosy tint to her medium-dark cheeks only made her the more beautiful.
"I miss you."
She met my gaze with eyes that glowed brighter than the first stars appearing overhead. "I miss you, too."
In tacit concordance we turned and walked on until our paths separated once more.
And I kept walking.
~ * ~
That's the hard part. To keep walking. To go on and never falter. To know the only way back is forth.
The world passes by me with each step. But I keep going because it's empty. I fill it with what good I can when I can; but there's nothing left in it, not for me.
I wonder where she is and I wonder where my path is taking me. I wonder about many things. My mind brims with the swelling ranks of unanswered questions.
But what can I do but go onward? With patience and perseverence I have to fight my way forward. Along the way I strive to make myself into a man worthy of her. She is like a distant star guiding me along. It is day and I cannot see her, but I know she is there, and I follow her.
Someday our paths will reconnect. Until then I'll continue wandering; but my heart will never stray. For my Rachel I'll go that extra mile.
Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith