The little roads
You are the Owner of the Little Roads, the off beaten paths that only the lost can find and use. How do you use them, and the people and creatures that tread their ways?
You’re not sure where you are. You had a bit too much to drink or smoked a joint too many and suddenly you look up to realise that the staring houses around you are unfamiliar. The twisted alley you’re walking on has no name, and there’s no one around to ask for help.
Or maybe you’ve been driving for hours in the night, eyes battling fatigue, a baby in the back seat and your suitcases in the trunk. You should be near E-37 by now, but the chestnut tree-lined road you’re travelling on doesn’t show up on the map glowing from your phone.
Or maybe you wanted to get lost. Maybe it was a dare, or a desire to explore, or a wish for danger. Maybe you wanted to get lost in the darkness of the Little Roads for fun.
Maybe you heard the whispers in the town’s dive bars, at the edge of the woods, or in the underground. It’s what schoolkids tell each other as they smoke behind the bike shed: travelling on the Little Roads can get you where you want to go.
It’s not a lie. I hold the roads in my palms and twist them as I wish, spitting people out in the direction I want them to. If you want to find the safety of your home, a haven in a new city away from an abusive partner, or satisfy your desire for danger and exploration, I can provide.
But for a price.
This is something the whispers don’t tell you.
Sometimes all I take from the staggering person down the alley is a shoe; they turn the corner, limping on their one-heeled foot, and see familiar streetlights. They exhale. A taxi conveniently waits to take them home, safe.
Sometimes I take a memory, a sliver of fear, a drop of blood on a jagged stone.
Sometimes I take the baby.
It depends on my whims; I have strange hungers.
Would it help you to know the baby is happy with me, growing up with the Little Roads in her palms, learning to fold and twist them like I do? Perhaps not.
Your distress or gratitude doesn’t matter to me. I take what I want and give back what you need. Fair’s fair. I own the Little Roads and you’ll always come to me. Because deep down you know: getting lost is the only way to find where you’re headed.
26 May 2018