There is always so much that could have been, compared with the narrow world of what is. There are so many turnings at each crossroads, but only one is taken. Each road leads not to some eternal city but another crossroads with, again, a multiplicity of further turnings. There are so many roads not taken, so many roads leading further away from home.
Shania stood at the crossroads with her familiar city behind her. Looking back, she vowed to herself, under her breath, never to return. She could see each of the other three roads led off around bends to places she’d only heard of in the tales of travellers at the Inn, as she served their ale and meals while fighting off their wandering hands.
There had been Thoma too, and his stories of what lay beyond the city and the many crossroads where he’d waited to relieve traveller of the burden of their wealth. But now he swung from a rope in the King’s courtyard and those bright blue eyes she’d come to love saw no more crossroads.
So Shania had considered her options and seen they didn’t amount to much beyond serving in the Inn and growing old. Then, that morning she’d looked over at the few clothes and meagre stores she’d packed since Thoma swung. All in all, she considered the road a much better alternative than the bucket of dirty tepid mopping water that was her only other option.
Shania dressed, picked up her heavy but meagre pack. Stepping carefully over the vomit and ale-stained unmopped floor, she strode out here to the crossroads she’d never gone past.
Now, she stood here, wondering which way to go.