The Wanderer’s New Year (Short Story)

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

the_name_of_the_wind_by_marcsimonetti
Art by: Marc Simonetti (Cover for the french version of ‘The Name of the Wind’)

“Hush,” he whispered to his mare, the gentle and now weary Céleste. “Easy now, Céleste.”

He brushed through her mane soothingly and in an easy movement slipped off her.

Night surrounded them on top of the hill they had climbed, millions of small stars blinking down at them. Céleste gave a proud grunt. She liked the night, it looked just like her coat of black speckled with white all over.

The sound of something being fired pierced through the silence and soon, bright sparks of red and gold formed patterns in the sky.

The small town below them was illuminated far more than normal towns usually were and in the distance, it seemed to him like an ant colony: busy, bustling, full of energy. Another few rockets exploded in the night, showering the town in streaks of pink and green lights.

“So it is already that time,” he murmured to himself “Already a year…searching, seeking out the road that promises no destination.”

“A year spent wandering,” he mused, “and what for?…Purpose? Meaning?” He sighed and looked back down the way from which he had emerged.

His eyes and voice were wistful as he spoke to no one in particular.

“But there is no place for me there. Not anymore; perhaps there never was. And so now to the road do I belong, and Time,” he looked at the bursting fireworks more intently now “does not matter here. Only the road matters. I will either reach the stars above or die on the road. I am on a journey that has perhaps no end, and yet I cannot stop. I cannot stop because it is better to wander unknowingly than to stay somewhere you do not belong.”

He stood still, watching the displays of lights and sounds with a profound sadness that only grew deeper at the sounds of loud cheers and lively music.

He remained like this a long while.

And then, as though he’d had enough, he pulled the ample hood of his long cloak back on, and Céleste’s reins in hand, marched forth into the darkness.

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