A Road Less Traveled

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story regarding the journey of life.

As I recall , it was a foggy afternoon . It had started out that way , and never burned off . It was as though the word to "get on " with the day had never been sent .If it had , it certainly had never been received .

Everything was still , like it was in limbo . There was not a whisp of wind , or any movement of air that I  could discern , and all I could hear was the croaking of frogs on their lilly pads ,

interspersed with  the lonesome call of the whipperwills.  It was a day taylor made for self reflection , and meditation . Just a quiet somber afternoon.

I had been told by the elderly fellow at the bait shop , Pete was his name , that a low front was moving in ,  and to be wary of lightning ,  accompanied by  sudden gusts of wind ,  should a storm break . I listened to him politely , and told him that I thought I'd hang around to see what might happen . " Well young fella' that mightn't be such a bad idea after all . Ya' see sometimes these old mountain winds , just blow a storm right over without doin' any harm at all . In fact sometimes , a storm is just the thing we need 'round here . Anyways , It's your decision ."

As I packed my last bit of gear into the jeep , I caught a glimpse of the old dirt road running up into the country side . It seemed to traverse the forest , splitting off from the main lake road and meandering  around to the left  . I thought that it might make for an interesting ride , so I poked my head back in the door of the " general store and tackle " and made an inquiry . "say Pete , where does that old road go ? The one headed into the woods .""Oh that one that kinda' shoots off into nowhere ? Oh that's nothin' much son .Might say it's the road less taken ! " The old timers sitting at the counter chuckled at the quip . " Good one Pete ." one of them replied . I smiled at the old mans joke , and retorted ; " Very funny Pete . Well  I'll  tell ya' what fellas , since the fish obviously won't be bitin' today with the weather as it is , I just might take that road myself , just for somethin' to do ! "" Suit  yourself son . " Pete retorted .

I could tell within a few minutes that the weather just might turn foul . There was a great grey mass moving slowly towards the valley from the West , and it seemed to be inexorably heading my way . Sometimes no matter how hard we try , we can't out run a storm . I stopped before turning off the main lake road , to button down the canvas and get as waterproof as possible . I took one last look at the blackening sky and muttered  " Well ,  ready or not here I come ."

The road seemed to go on forever . " It must just keep doubling back on itself ." I thought . The longer I drove ,  the more I  began to wonder , not only about the road itself , but  about the way that old man's eyes seemed to dance , even as he told me there was nothing much up there . It was as  if he was saying " Why don't you go up and see for yourself ?" I couldn't forgetthe wry , knowing smile on his face when I first walked into the shop too . It was like he had been expecting me . Well , I had just about finished that thought when it started to rain . Wow ! What a cloudburst ! I saw the lightning slam into a group of trees to my right , I  hit the brakes hard and whammo! Lights out ! A tree came down on my ride , and My head hit the steering wheel . Mother Nature one - explorer zero.

I guess I was out about five or ten minutes . Hard to say really . But when I came to , I was lookin' at a ton of evergreen resting on the hood in front of me . " Uh Oh , better get Maaco ." I groggilly uttered , recalling an old television commercial of yesteryear .  At least I hadn't lost my sense of humor . Well , I thought ," not driving any more today , and the road down hill is completely washed out . Nowhere to go ,  but up . " I grabbed my backpack and started hoofing .

When the rain left it took the fog with it . Soon all the wildlife  of the forest seemed to awaken . It was if they knew the danger had passed . It was now late afternoon , and the birds of the air were alive with song , chatting away with each other . The waning sun filtered mild rays through filtering , outstretched arms of evergreen , and fir trees . Rivulets of pine scented sap carrying water , streamed and dripped off the ancient sentinels  , and a strong , bracing mixture of cool mountain air ,  and honeysuckle filled my nostrils . I felt invigorated . I felt alive .

At dusk I paused to see a group of cardinals Flying over head . They dove in close , to see the interloper I suppose , circled twice , then headed straight up the mountain . "Hurry home kids ." I called after , "It'll be dark soon ! "  The words had barely left my lips when I was surprised to see that I had another visitor with me on the path .( It was a path by the way . It had lost its  road-dom status  miles before .) There she was in all her glory , a full grown doe , standing right in front of me , just looking at me , and chewing on grass . I didn't find this all that unusual , as I  understood that there were places ,  where deer were known to have no fear of man , such as Fire Island in New York . I had experienced that personally years ago. She stood there silently , eyeing me with what I can only call a thoughtful gaze . She was totally unwary of my presence . I carefully drew nearer to the welcome  stranger , and was soon standing right next to her . Slowly , ever so slowly I reached out to touch her gentle brow with an open threatless palm  . I reassured her as I drew closer , " Come on girl . It's O.K. I'm not gonna' hurt ya' . " Then I was there , stroking her downy soft cheek ,  and feeding her by hand . It was , to say the least amazing . It was a heavenly thing . Never had any animal seemed so trusting of me .

The doe followed , and periodically she would nudge me under the arm as if to say " A little more petting here pal ." I found it not only humorous , but delightful . As we walked along I decided to give my new hiking buddy a name . " I know what I'll call you girl ; "Fearless" , 'cause that's what you are .

As we moved forward ,  darkness crept in over my companion and I . I began to feel a sense of uneasiness once again ,  as the path grew gnarled with overgrown vines and , the shadows from  the trees cast harrowing figures upon the ground . The breeze turned a bit colder , and seemed to send a low howling sound through the forest . I came upon a split in the foot path . I had to choose which way to go and i didn't know which to choose . There seemed to be a sound ; no ,  a voice beckoning from the darkness , bidding me to go to the left . Yet I was unsure , and afraid of what I felt then , and was afraid to act . I stood there in the void silent , and frightened for the first time since my journey up the mountain began . Again the wind blew , this time harder and actually pushed me to the left . I called out " Hey you , stop pushing me ! I'll go the way that I think is right !" All at once the wind stopped , and the clouds that had suddenly concealed the bright , full , beautiful moon , passed away . The gentle glow of strong moonlight permeated the path upon which I stood , and just then , as if on cue , he appeared .

Now I have seen my share of rabbits , and I have read my share of fairy tales , but i'm tellin' Ya' this was the whitest , fluffiest , big footinest hopper I have ever layed eyes on ! He had great pink oversized eyes , eyebrows to match ,and an unusual brown marking on his face which ran across the top of his head above his eyes , which  was intersected , running down to his nose , and straight up above his eyes by about two inches . Like the doe , he just sat there looking at me for a moment , but I had the idea that he had  very definate plans for the direction he wished me to proceed. For  a moment ,  I thought I might head off on the left fork path after all , it looking alot more open and  easier to traverse , but as I was considering it , not even moving towards it mind you , the hare leaped in front of me . "Well Mister "X" I said  , ( naming him for his markings on the spot) I can see by your furrowed expression , you do not believe that is the path I need . Sooo supposeI let you choose . Instantly , Mister X  took a great hop from left ,  to right , covering at least fifteen feet . He landed squarely in the middle of the right handed path , and began stomping his great rabbits foot . I  was shocked to suddenly  feel a great vibration , which penetrated the ground from it , and was felt through the bottoms of my feet ! "Allllrighty then !" I extolled , imitating a famous comedic actor . " Let's just do it YOUR way !' I laughed at my own silliness ,  and moved in the direction I was instructed to .  My new tour guide hopped a good bit ahead , occasionally stopping to turn around and give me the eye . " I'm comin' Mister X . I'm comin' . Never said I was the fastest ya' know . Just give me some time !"

At this point I had pretty much lost track of time , and frankly with all the , shall we say unusual occurences I  had been experiencing , it was not  the predominant issue on my mind . But at some point , (I'm not sure  where.) I began to feel a great lightness of heart ,  whichI  had not felt for many , many years . It was something I think i had lost , long , long ago as a boy , and could never really recover . I began to realize that I  must be in  dream , and that all that had transpired would soon be revealed as a bit of fancy . Yet still , I followed that crazy rabbit , and walked with "Fearless" , along side of me . If it were a dream , I hoped I would remember it . What a tale ! 

As the night wore on , and Dawn began to draw near , I began to wonder if my dream would end before I was shown what was at the top of the mountain .  "That just wouldn't be fair " I thought.  After all I had come so far . My fears were unfounded as the  first weak rays of sunlight ,  soon began to traverse the lush green canopy , and the waking sounds of nature's Orchestra began to warm up once more . After a little while ,  I noticed a beautiful white dove sitting on a wiilow branch just along the way . I bade him good morning ,  and as he watched me stride by , he quickly and gently lept onto my left shoulder . " Well O.K. fella' , you might as well come along too " I said . I stroked the top of his head gently with my finger , and we settled in , my three companions and I , to finish up the rest of our trek .

As the sun grew higher in the perfect sky , I noticed a reflection off in the distance . Soon , I could make out the form of a great house ; no a mansion . " That's it !" I thought "I've  made it!" There was a large gate at the front of the grounds , and it sparkled like gold in the morning light . As I approached , a  man casually strolled out of the forest whistling a toon . Why it was Peter from the bate shop !  I stood bewildered for a moment and then asked ; "What are you doin'  here Pete ? Can't catch much fish at this altitude can ya' ? "Well I wouldn't say that son . Wouldn't say that at all ." he responded .  I pressed on . "You gave me the impression , that there wasn't much up here Pete . Wadda' ya' call all this ?Peter stood silent for a moment and seemed pensive ." Well son " , he continued ," for most there isn't . But for some there is everything . I see you met your three escorts along the way . Good . Very good . So how was your trip up ? " I stood there baffled , and awestruck both by his presence , and by the surroundings in which I now found myself . Yet I was still very much at ease ,  and in very high spirits . I decided to answer his question . " Well , I'll tell ya' Peter , some of the going was rough . Some bad terrain , ya' know ? I was slowed down a few times , and was almost sidetracked too . But once I found my three friends here , the journey became much easier . " He looked at me again , and a wide , wise smile , came across his ancient face . He glowed in his spirit as he unlocked the gate , pushed it open , and motioning , invited me to step across the threshold . " All who make it here , say just about the same thing young man . Come on in . Somebody wants to meet you ." I looked at him anxiously ,  and even before I could utter my question , he seemed to read my mind . "You can stay forever.......if ya' like . after all this is your home now ." Later , I understood.

Submitted: October 25, 2010

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