With that, she turned and started down the trail that led to the forest.
The trail itself started off much like the one she’d taken that led her to the clearing, with a handful of trees about. Yet, as she continued on, the trees began growing in size and in number. Within five minutes of strolling down the - admittedly clean - path, Kris found herself walking in what felt like an actual forest. The air was cool, the breeze continued, and the sounds of chirping or singing birds and other woodland animals didn’t stop.
“Jeez,” she muttered. “Is this the national park? That would make sense.”
Even so, as she continued on, she couldn’t help but think that the scope of the forested area was grander than she expected from a national park. There weren’t any other people about, and the path felt so linear, she expected to see joggers, cyclists, and the like. Yet she saw none - it was just here, walking down an empty, clean path.
‘Maybe I should go back,’ she mused. She wasn’t the bravest of people, and though she knew she had left for her walk a little after twelve, nothing good would come about her wandering through the forest and getting lost…
Funnily enough, not long after Kris considered this, she saw yet another split in the path ahead of her. This time, however, it was a simple fork in the road - two paths, one that went left, and one that went right. And there in the middle of the split - big and hard to ignore - was a wooden sign, with words carved into it.
‘But do I need to read it?’ she wondered. ‘I mean, this isn’t a jungle or some Indiana Jones movie, so… Hmm.’
Curious, yes, she was this. Indecisive… she was also that, too, unfortunately. The two did not work well together, which was probably why she was worried she would get lost - Kris knew herself well enough to know she would likely stop at some split in the road or some other place to make a choice, and she’d stand there, thinking for a good hour before making the decision.
‘Damn it, brain, stop it,’ she thought.
As she neared, she began to ponder: did she want to read and see if it told her anything of value, or, did she just want to pick one way without bothering?
Though Kris knew she could’ve easily continued and seen what lay one way - or both were she so inclined - her own curiosity and her sense of caution got the better of her. She sighed and opted to read the sign when she got to it.
After another minute of casually strolling, she arrived.
The sign appeared more ornate up close than she’d given it credit for, though the words were very large and sort of blocky. She couldn’t tell if someone wrote them by hand first, then took a knife to dig into the sign, or if someone was very skilled at carving a fairly large amount of words. She blinked several times. There were two small paragraphs on the side, one on the left, and one on the right with little arrows indicating their respective directions.
‘Someone must think the people that see this are a stupid,’ she mused.
With a shrug, Kris read the first part on the left aloud. “Go left, and you will find your heart’s innermost yearning - a child blessed by the wild, waiting for one with heart tender and mild. Though their body might be feral, they’ll bind to keep you safe through any peril. So come and you alone they shall claim, so come and their essence will you tame. Choose this path to find your heart’s ferocious love, and discover what freedom’s passion is truly made of.”
When she finished, she paused to absorb this information. If she could even CALL it actual information, since it didn’t really give her very much at all about what happened to be to the left path. Kris frowned to herself and crossed her arms. Her mind raced, as it often did, and she mulled this paragraph over.
“What the hell is this, a nature poem?” she mumbled under her breath.
No one was around, and whenever she was alone and certain no one was in ear shot, she would often talk to herself - it helped her think. And this… whatever it was, certainly needed some thought.
“None of that made any sense,” Kris said, nodding as she spoke. “I mean, seriously? ‘Child blessed by the wild,’ ‘body might be feral…’ Sheesh, it’s like they’re trying to tell me I’ll run into half-naked people living in the trees.”
Now granted, Kris did consider the possibility there might be an indigenous tribe in the area, or perhaps homeless folks taking shelter in the woods. Even so, she expected the sign to spell these details out - and it did no such thing.
‘Okay, so what’s the other side say?’
She shook her head and glanced at the other paragraph. “Go right, and you will find your mind’s innermost learning - a trial born within the isle, hoping to make your dreary life worthwhile. Though it might appear quite hard, should you keep your sense on guard, this challenge will leave your eyes starred. So come and you can test your wit, so come and with it raise your spirit. Choose this path to find your brain’s desire, and with it alight the dullness on fire.”
When she finished reading this, Kris could only gawk a little at the bizarre display. To her, it seemed like someone was trying to be poetic and clever at the same time in writing these, but they didn’t exactly do the best of jobs.
“Weird,” she muttered. “If these are supposed to be directions telling me what I’ll end up with one way or the other, they really friggin’ stink. I mean, Christ. I’m no nature guide, but even I know how to describe potential dangers.”
Kris didn’t see herself as someone who was dense - she wasn’t the smartest in her classes, she knew, but she wasn’t a slouch, either. She’d taken enough critical thinking classes in her day to know that there was SOME sort of meaning and significance woven into all this. But damn, did she not really know how to understand what they were going on about.
“I mean, love? Trials?” Her lips pursed. “Awfully big stuff to be throwing at some random person walking through the forest like this.”
She paused and peered behind her, back toward the direction with the initial clearing and the shop. She wondered if the shopkeeper or some worker there was responsible for all this. Yet, Kris knew that was neither here or there.
“Besides,” she said to herself, reasoning her choice out as though she were speaking to someone else, “if I go back and see who might be there, that’s more time wasted. I don’t really feel like going back… not yet, anyways.”
She turned her attention back to the sign. Kris paused and checked her cell phone - it was at 96% with the battery saver option, and she’d made damn sure to text her parents and a few good friends about her going for a walk. The connection was still fine, which helped ease her.
Ultimately, she knew that even with the sign’s strange attempt at rhyming poetry - or directions she supposed, crappy as they were - she was faced with another decision to make, since the only thing Kris knew was that this was starting to be quite the time killer, as dreamlike as the whole ordeal was.
She put her phone away and mulled her options over.
Did she go left to see what all the ‘love’ talk was about or did she go right to find out what the ‘mental trial’ business was trying to say?
Written by Hollowpages on 03 February 2020