Secrets of The Road

May 14, 2009
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Black. When I first arrived on the road, it was all I could see. Black asphalt surrounded by nothing but a desert, like nothing I had ever seen before. Where was I? Why am I here? When do I get to leave? I hated it. It reminded me of the place I didn’t want to go on judgment day, but knew I would. Fires were spreading everywhere, and I could hear screams. The sky was the most piercing blood red I had ever seen in my whole entire life, more red than the crimson blood I had seen in the paintings of war in history books when I was in school. But I noticed the more miles it passed the more orange, then yellow, then white it got. There was a light at the end of this tunnel, and I knew I had to follow it. I wanted to follow it, see what was at the end of the rainbow sky. But then again, I didn’t. It seemed dangerous, and the little voice in the back of my mind told me I was going to find bad things. The LITTLE VOICE inside my head I thought, the LITTLE VOICE. If it were a BIG voice, I probably would have listened to it. But, I got up, dusted off my knees, and walked, walked until the red light turned orange.
As the sky changed, so did the scenery. I began to see life in the form of a small pond, with frogs and fish jumping everywhere, around what seemed to only be a puddle. This was where I ended up seeing Anna, a girl from my elementary school years, the girl on the playground that had teased me the most. She was two years older than me, and much bigger. I called to her, curious as to why she was there on my road. She looked at me, and her face was different. There were streaks of dust across her face, and a jump rope in one hand. She still wore her signature pigtails, and hadn’t aged a bit. It was interesting, because she probably should be about thirty-five or so by now. She got up, and almost seemed to float in front of me as I was walking. I stopped, and she turned to the opposite side of the road. With a wave of her hand, the road forked, and she said, “You and I have a past, and I want you to know I’ve moved on from how you treated me.” “How I treated YOU?” I said, the anger burning inside. I couldn’t believe that she, the bully, had blamed her actions on me. All of the sudden, I felt a swoosh as I was pulled up from the road onto the air, and was transported back to my starting point. I began to walk through to the fork again.
When I reached Anna for the second time, she looked at me with a smirk and repeated the process that had caused me to return to the Underworld. This time, though, I was different, more careful, and told her I was sorry. She smiled and allowed me to move on, but as I left she gave me a warning. “This road is treacherous, but pleasure awaits you at the end. Be careful, be kind, and use your head at every turn.” I nodded, and followed a wooded path toward a yellow bridge, seeing deer, rabbits, and birds along the way. This provided a comforting feeling I had never experienced before, like a warm blanket and hot soup on a sick day. I began thinking about what Anna had said. It was a curios choice of words. Was there a deeper meaning to what she had said? Then, before I knew it, I finally reached the bridge, and a much larger bird flew down from the yellow sky to stop me. “Why are you here?” it asked. I replied, “I do not know, but I intend to find out at the end.” The bird looked at me, puzzled, “I am an angel, and not even I know that secret, but I can tell you this: You can move on, and I will help and protect you if you call me.” “What is your name?” I asked, but he was long gone.
I walked through the white, not having to face a person, but a group of helpless people. As I saw them all, helpless and suffering, I remembered the angel’s promise. Since I did not know his name, I could only call sheepishly, “Angel, Angel!” He materialized from the white light of the sky and asked, “How can I help?” “See these people, crippled, poor, and broken.” I said, “They need your help more than I do. Mend their hearts and minds so they can continue on the journey set out for them.” “I can tell that you are wise and kindhearted, and I will do what you tell me. You deserve the secret of The Road.” he said, and I moved on.
Purple had always seemed to me like the most evolved color, the most sophisticated, and as the sky became more like this, so did everything else. The asphalt turned white and red, the green trees turned greener, and everything became richer and more prosperous. I sat down at a lake near the road to rest and watch the fish for a moment, but when I returned the road had disappeared. I noticed a short, giggling demon on the side of a tree, and he approached me, singing this tune:
“You came off the road for a moment,
And I took it away from you.
You were ignorant to rest
Where the devils trick the youth.
I do not like anyone younger
Than my sweet old self,
And if you are smart
You will gain the wealth
Of a roof overhead along your quest
And a merry hip-hip-hooray.
If you can guess my age, my dear
The road is where you’ll stay.”

He spun as he sang, revealing his secret without even knowing. “You are forty two and three quarters of age.” I stated. “WHAT? NO ONE HAS GUESSED CORRECTLY BEFORE! HOW DID YOU KNOW?” He shouted, making his voice rumble throughout the wood. “You have it tattooed to the back of your head.” I giggled. With a snap of his fingers he replaced the road, now as gold as the ring I wore on my finger.

I had walked only about two steps when the road forked, revealing two identical steel doors. There was a sign that read, “If you open a door that I opened before you could take along pretty journey, but if you open the other it will be short but certainly much less pretty.” I chose the best way I could: Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe, and walked through the second door. There stood a beautiful garden with plants and animals of all sorts, with fish that flew in the sky and birds that swan in the sea. I could see through what seemed like a glass wall the other road, and it looked like it had been through a forest fire. Everything was charred, similar to the red-lit road from the beginning of my journey. I walked slowly so I could stop and smell the roses, then came to a set of pearly gates. I knocked, and a divine figure stood before me, saying, “You have made bad choices in your life on earth, but here have saved lives and conquered evil. You shall take this knowledge with you: BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!”

I woke up and went to work that morning like any other, but I sit here before you, an old woman in a home I do not deserve, and have gained the knowledge I would not have otherwise: I was not ready.





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