Maybe You Wonder Where You Are

I walked out this morning. It’s something I’ve often imagined doing, but never really thought I would. At home, at work, wherever. Just getting up and walking out. And today…today I did it. The only thing is, I didn’t pay much attention to where I was walking out to and now I’m lost. There’s a sign in front of me. POINTOUT PATH. I might as well follow that.

I check my phone. 42 missed calls. Shit. I return the phone to my pocket and start walking. The path seems to go on for a very long way and at some point I realise I have probably come too far to turn back. I stop to rest for a bit and eat my packed lunch. It’s lovely and peaceful out here. Wherever here is. And it’s nice to have lunch somewhere different for a change, instead of the dreary staffroom yet again. Although, in hindsight, I could have just gone to the park round the corner.

I get up and start walking again. I’m getting a bit of a headache. It’s the lack of caffiene – I haven’t had a coffee yet today. I normally have one in the morning. Then one at around eleven. Then one at lunchtime. I’m starting to feel quite anxious. Maybe there’s a Starbucks along here somewhere. There’s that many of them, I wouldn’t be surprised to come across one on a deserted country pathway. It’ll probably be inside a huge hollowed out tree, or under a bridge. It might even be made of gingerbread.

After another hour or so of walking I come to another sign. The path is now going two different directions. There are two arrows on the sign. The one pointing left reads TURN LEFT HERE. The arrow pointing right reads TURN RIGHT HERE. This is most unhelpful. I look from side to side. The two paths are identical and it’s impossible to tell where either one leads. What now? I could flip a coin. Well, I could if I had one. Oh, I know. How silly of me. It’s easy. I close my eyes and spin round and round and round until I get dizzy. Then I stop and point my arm out ahead of me. I open my eyes. Ah. I am pointing at a tree. And I now feel slightly sick.

I take my marker pen out of my pocket and reach up to make a few adjustments to the sign. Then I stand back to admire my handiwork. Hopefully someone else will wander along here sometime and see it. It’s not great, but it makes a bit more sense now, I think. I turn and begin walking back the way I came. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I get back. There’s little point in going back to work – everyone will have left for the day by the time I get back, plus it’s very likely I won’t actually be allowed back into the building again. Ever. There’s only one option now. I might as well go to the pub. Then when I’ve had a few drinks I’ll tell my friends my path story. Only I’ll embellish it a bit, make it more interesting. After all, no one else was here. I can tell them anything I like. It’s my path. My story. Anything can happen.

 

***

 

Jenny walked quickly alone the path, waving her umbrella in the air. ‘Keep up, everyone,’ she called. ‘We’re almost at Pointout Path. You’ll notice a rather unusual sign there, which has a very interesting story. It…oh!’ She stopped abruptly, causing several French students to bump into one another. They watched Jenny expectantly as she stared at the sign, mouth open and blinking. One of the students pointed at her and giggled, mumbling something about a goldfish.

Jenny walked over to the sign, as though getting closer might change what it said. TURN IT ROUND the sign told her, with letters crudely scribbled out and others added in. She reached out and gripped the sides of the sign, then turned it slowly round in the ground. She stared at the side now facing her and frowned.

LOOK BEHIND YOU.

Jenny looked behind her. There was nothing there. She looked left, then she looked right. Then she turned round…and round…and round. And stopped. She was standing by a sign with four arrows, pointing out in four different paths. They all looked exactly the same. She closed her eyes and turned round very quickly, then stopped and pointed. She opened her eyes. She walked forwards. Kept walking. Along the way, the path began to widen, until it was no longer a path, but a road. She didn’t stop, or turn to look back. She just kept going. She didn’t know where she was going, but the road had to lead somewhere. All roads lead somewhere. Don’t they?

After a couple of hours, Jenny came to a bridge. She opened the gate and began to walk across. Halfway to the other side she saw something very strange. A door. Someone had built a house in the middle of the bridge. How very odd. How were you supposed to cross over? She was pondering this dilemma when the door opened and a man in an apron walked out. He saw Jenny and smiled. ‘Any hot drinks?’

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