At the plateau, the landscape diverges into two paths: one paved, curving around the hill, dotted with electricity poles and power lines. The other is steep, still covered in grass and shrubs growing around football-sized rocks. The first time, we took the paved road. Because we didn’t know which way was the right way. Because other people were also taking the paved road. I wonder if there had been no one on that first day, if we would have taken the other road instead? If we would have given in to this itch in ourselves to go find out what was at the other end of that road. I wonder, how many decisions we make in life simply because we see other people do the same. How much of us is truly our own selves? How much is mere imitation? Where do we end and where do others begin?
I’m a little bothered by it now, especially with how much I adore Frost. But today, today, we are taking the road less traveled by. It is winding and uneven, I’ve stumped my foot on a few rocks and my pants have caught on at least a dozen thorns.
But the wind on my face is worth all of the city. It’s so strong and crisp I would worry about taking flight. But why would I need to fly now? It feels like the world is laid out before me this afternoon. The satellite dishes are gleaming white in the sun, the water on the rooftops is reflecting its light, creating the most enchanting illusion of honeyed depths.
In between deep silences, our oddly matched group ( A 12-year-old with bloodlust and a fascination for all things dark and creepy, a chatty, surprisingly well-rounded 14-year-old who might or might not be anaemic, a 20-year-old whose thoughts I cannot read, and well, me, cowardly yet curious me) is reminiscing about summers past. About how we would have barbecues at night in Grandma’s garden, how we would hide in the storage room under the stairs, and remember when we had parakeets? At this point, we have climbed up and then gone down. The grass is so tall you cannot even see the city to the right. It’s just you, the rustling leaves, and the road ahead. Further down, the road narrows, and an eerie silence reigns. The conversation has changed to food and we are ranking the best and worst fried chicken we’ve ever had. It is agreed upon that KFC is not what it used to be. The 20-year-old has eaten a piece of fried chicken 2 months ago that he can’t seem to forget about.
“If I try to remember really hard,” he says, “I can still taste that drumstick in my mouth sometimes.”
But no amount of fried chicken could distract you from the disturbing silence. Especially when the 12-year-old is raving about zombies, murder and this being the ideal place to hide a corpse. As though an omen, a warning, there is a decrepit, fallen tree blocking the narrowing path. As someone who has studied literature before, you would think I would pay heed to foreshadowing. But like fools, we march on. There are faraway sounds of roosters singing and lonely birdsong. Along the way, we see a huge tree covered in vine, greener than grass could ever be. There are attempts at an Instagram photo, all failed.
We walk and walk until the path gets too narrow and thankfully, thankfully, we decide to turn back.
Now, we’re walking in line and even though we’re walking away, I’m still fearing an attack any minute now. So because I have watched exactly 3 horror movies in my life, I know what to do. I place myself in the middle. Got my back and front covered. Totally unrelated to this, is the fact that I am a Gryffindor.
The sun is setting as we return, and this time, there is an all-out photoshoot taking place. Gotta get that light, says the 14-year-old. It’s peaceful, with this orange glow cast over us. We’re dragging behind, lazy and sweaty, content.
By the time we get to the foot of the hill, the sun is no more than a thin band of light on the horizon, and we walk home in its dying breath.
Note: This is Day 11 of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge 🙂 You can find the previous part here .