As I walked down the winding dirt path, my foot kicked two small stones at the old wooden gate in front of me. I stopped and frowned. Why was I frowning? Wasn't the village just across the golden blanket of wheat my destination? Wasn't this spot, where the long, winding path ended, what I was dreaming about for all the long hours I wandered through the forest--as if thinking about it hard enough would make it appear? Now that I was finally there, gazing out over the vast crop of wheat and the gentle rolling hills with a village perched atop, I couldn't make my feet move any farther.
I took a deep breath. I could feel the cold, sweet air of a summer's night slide down my throat and into my chest. I sat down to think at the foot of a motherly oak, on a velvet tuft of grass, an island in the rough surrounding earth. I stared at my fairy tale surroundings; the ancient trees holding hands and bringing the entire forest together to embrace; at the white snow covered peaks in the distance; at the church steeple ahead, shrunken in the giant shadow of the trees. The forest serenaded me with chirps and chatters, whistles and whoops. _I could stay here forever . . ._
The open gate exposed a path across the wheat field that continued off into the distance, to the village I guessed. It extended a hand, beckoning me to the farmhouses ahead. Coaxing smells of blueberry pie and fried chicken floated to me from the cottage on the hill. I wanted to go, I wanted to go ever so badly, but the trees held me tight, begging me to stay. I thought of my mother. . . how she cried and begged when I left. . . I shook my head to clear the thought. No, I couldn't think of my mother, I couldn't think of home. I'd promised myself I'd never look back. There was nothing to look back at, I reasoned, nothing but hurt and pain.
I realized something just then. There was nothing to look forward to either. Nothing but another small town, probably just like my own, my own town which I had finally escaped from--but for what, only to end up in the same place all over again?
But my stomach rumbled and I winced at the pain. A gash on my shoulder that I had aquired when I tripped and fell on a sharp rock stung. It had become infected.
Slowly, I stood up and walked to the gate with a sigh. I plodded through the wheat field heading towards the village. For the first time on my journey, I looked back. A single tear slid down my cheek and the forest became silent.