Just something I've been thinking about for various reasons.
The narrow, empty rural road stretched and disappeared into the mountains of the far distance. I squared my shoulders, pulled my jacket closer to me and took the first step.
The wind was at my back and though I couldn't see it in the silvery sky, the sun was warm upon my face. The landscape, which was barren and empty at first glance, revealed itself to be made up of various shades of greens, browns and greys. Further on I could see light showers of rain slipping through the air at the point where the steel sky met the dark land.
I walked. The road rose and fell, twisted and turned and I walked. The skies were still much too thick to see the sun, but still I felt its vague warmth from above.
I walked and the road led along the edge of a dark lake. The waters were so still that the reflections there were almost exact renderings of the landscape above: the sparsely forested hills and stripped limestone mountains.
I walked endlessly but did not become weary. Night threatened to fall but it did not come. Though the waters stirred a little from their glassy stillness, it never become rough.
I walked, and although all was silence and solitude I did not feel alone. Where once I would have needed constant music in my ears, I missed it not.
I walked, but my feet did not turn sore. My bright magenta sneakers did not rub and my muscles did not burn, but I felt the distance even as I had no sense of time.
I walked and although I had no notion of a specific destination, I was not lost.
I walked, and I walked until I turned a final rising bend and found myself staring at a house.
The house was like scores I'd seen before on roads just like this one. The thatched roof and whitewashed walls were comforting in their familiarity. Thin smoke curled up from the chimney and I breathed deep the warm, earthy smell of a peat fire.
The stones underfoot crunched as I approached the front door, it a brilliant green and surrounded by wild roses. I paused at the door, and caught my reflection in the window. I looked more beautiful than I had ever seen myself before, but exactly the same as I had always been. I smiled at myself and opened the door.
It was snugly warm inside. The lights were on. The interior of the house was nothing special, just as it was nothing particularly interesting on the outside, but as the door closed behind me I knew what would be waiting for me further in. It was everything I had ever honestly wanted and needed, for the two were not so unalike. Music playing from somewhere nearby, the song I'd loved the best and closed my eyes to.
By the fire, I found a familiar face, smiling in welcome. 'I've been waiting for you.'
'Well, I've been waiting a long time to get here.'
The long walk was penance, I understood in that moment. Waiting was the punishment and always, always was. It is over and I am here.