Highway Chapter 5
She had been there, as if it were fate. I had come into the small town, and made my way to the local bar in an attempt to get information from the locals.
People who are ready to start on the path usually are a strange breed. They act different, some more than others, and they stand out. This can manifest in many ways including acting out, excessive shyness, or sometimes even changes in their physical appearance. They cut their hair, start wearing different clothes, suddenly have markings on their body that they didn’t have before. They feel as if they need to change something, due to the call of the road, and so they react. Almost everybody in the world has at one point received the call, but in many it isn’t strong enough, and it is pushed away deep inside. In others it is stronger, but they can fill the “void” left from ignoring the call with other activities such as joining organizations or helping others.
And then there are those that are irrevocably drawn to it. These are the people I try to guide the most. If an opportunity presents itself to help the other of lesser feelings, I gladly take it, but they are not my main focus. If these individuals cannot find their way, it is a bad scenario. At best, they live their life feeling as if some part of them is always missing, always looking to the stars and wondering what they missed. In the worst case scenario, they don’t make it. They mistake the feeling of wanting something more as a feeling of hopelessness they cannot endure, and they take it upon themselves to cope the only way they know how. This is a loss that we all feel, so deep in our consciousness that it can leave a hole for weeks, or if the person had been known, years. It is unacceptable to allow such a thing to happen if there were any way to stop it. But as I said before, we cannot force someone to join us, for they would never awaken without their free will. All of this, of course, makes candidates easy to learn about. Because they are different, they are generally shunned away from the “normal society.”
As I entered the bar, I had long since noticed the quiet that was forming. Like a blanket of snow covering the town, everything was muted and hushed. The people were starting to notice I was here.
Just like how candidates of the path are noticed as different, so am I, if not even more so. There is something about a drifter that makes humans feel uneasy. Perhaps they start to feel as if something is missing. Being in a town where everyone knew each other didn’t help, for now I had become a stranger of interest.
Sitting down near the drink rack, I examined the various liquors they had. Sweet, sour, smooth, rough. I turned to the bartender with a breezy smile.
“Cuba Libre, please.”
Polite and well delivered, a voice pattern I had developed early on. I wasn’t generally a drinker, it fogged up the brain, but it was a social activity. The goal was to get the people to talk to you, and alcohol was popular among most. I sat in a relaxed pose, unthreatening and friendly. This place was even more quiet than usual. Everyone had gone dead silent. In big cities, people hush their voices, but they still move about with their general lives. It seemed to me that I would not get any information from anyone around here. I could feel their stares boring into my back, but I pretended not to notice. “I hope nobody is here” I thought to myself, “You couldn’t have had a moment of peace.”
Just as I had been about to get up to leave after finishing my drink, thinking my pursuit of knowledge a hopeless case, she had cleared her throat. I turned in my chair, only to see her standing defiantly in the middle of the bar. Everyone’s attention on me, they had yet to notice the girl. I knew right away that she was special. Her essence was vibrating with life, and I could feel a hint of that connection shared with drifters. Even though it was not developed all the way, I could see more of her than her outline. She was strong-willed, rebellious, and withdrawn from people. I could feel her sorrow, and her pain, but I couldn’t get to the depths. This girl’s soul was phenomenal. She was definitely an individual that needed to find her way. She couldn’t be any more ready in her life than right now.
Standing just inside the front door, I could see everything reflected back in the rays of the sun. She was there, in fitted jeans with laces down the sides, and wearing a snarky shirt that said, “ I refuse to engage in a battle of wits against an unarmed person.” She was also wearing a short black jacket, little chains on the sleeves glinting in the sunlight. Her shoes were gray cloth converse, laced up with neon blue strings.
Her hair was a brilliant copper, so bright it seemed to glimmer in the sun. It was long, reaching just past her shoulders, and was waved. Her tousled locks framed her pale face, her skin like porcelain. The only imperfection being the freckles dusted along her nose. Her eyes were emerald, deep and unwavering.
It was hard to see her through those eyes, for they were closed off from the world. This girl had built up her barriers. She looked to be a teenager, but a bit later in life. Maybe 16, or perhaps 17? I couldn’t quite tell. She stood awkwardly, gangly and tall, but it did not detract from her look.
The crowd had finally turned to look at her, now that they had noticed where my gaze was directed. Their faces contorted in odd facial expressions, and I knew that this girl was not a favorite of any of these people. When I noticed she had not said anything after clearing her throat, I raised my eyebrow at her. Did she change her mind? She paused. Then, her head held high, she shouted some obscenity at the crowd. With a growl of disdain and defiance, she looked around the room as if expecting someone to challenge her exclamation.
After a few moments of silence, the people began to disperse with low grumbles and several nasty looks. I had not removed my stare, for I knew that she was the one. She seemed to stand for a moment, unsure, and then turned to leave.
“Wait,” I said, afraid I was losing the chance to speak with her, "Can I talk to you? I only need a few minutes of your time, I promise.”
I needed to connect to her now, or I would lose the opportunity to show her what she needed to make a decision about the path. The next few minutes were absolutely crucial.
She froze, and turned slowly to face me. I took slow steps toward her, easy and loping. She looked like a cornered animal, and so I had to move slowly and carefully, for she seemed as if she might be about to bolt out of the doors. I could see as I got closer to her that she was surveying me, taking in all that she could in what I assume was an attempt to prepare herself. She was obviously confused, and for good reason.
I was the manifestation of something she had felt. I knew all too well the feeling of yearning and emptiness I had before I had found the way. Once, when I met another drifter, I felt an intense increase in that emotion, for it was what I had been missing. She could only be feeling the same. After another pause, she simply replied with a shrug that didn’t seem to say it mattered either way.
I smiled, hoping that it would put her at ease. I had already overcome half the battle. No I would just have to keep her interested and hope she made the right choice.
“Come on,” I said, “I’ll buy you a drink.”
Nothing alcoholic, for she was definitely underage. As we snuggled into the seats by the shelf, I folded my hands in front of me and directed my gaze to her eyes.
“Let me tell you about a little something I like to call the truth.”
Here we go. I started at the beginning. This was the ultimate story, and here was my most important reader. I began to talk.