"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by."
~ Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"
In the distance, the shape of a deer ghosted across the narrow highway. It was a single, fleeting mote of life in a still-portrait landscape that was silent and vast, broken only by the man-made ribbon of concrete which wound its indifferent way from nothing to nowhere.
Logan slowed his battered pickup truck, his eyes scanning the roadsides cautiously for any other deer that might care to interject themselves between his fender and the next bend in the road, but there were none. The scenery was once again sterile. Large, wet snowflakes swirled down from the sky, vanishing amid the white sameness of their brethren on the ground. Snow-frosted pine and spruce trees loomed darkly along the verges of the highway, interpersed with the bare, silvery trunks of birch and aspen.
The road ahead was a hazy nothingness, framed by encroaching shadows.
Familiar… It was all familiar. In his fifteen remembered years, Logan felt as though he had traveled every mile of every forgotten highway in Canada.
There had to be a dead end somewhere. A place where the darkness closed in; a point beyond which any who ventured would become forever lost. Perhaps he was searching for it. He wasn’t sure. He felt little more than did the empty road, making his way to a place he didn’t know for reasons he couldn’t remember.
Through the partially snow-blurred windshield, his keen eyes detected a break in the treeline ahead of him, and he slowed the truck further. Another road that was little more than a rugged track branched off from the highway, quickly fading into a black wilderness of trees.
In the triangular crook where the two roads diverged, a plywood sign had been nailed to the foremost tree, displaying an arrow and a few crudely formed words in black spray paint. In order to read it, Logan had to stop the truck completely and squint through the flying snow.
LAUGHLIN CITY 5 KM
Arching an eyebrow, he reached half-unconsciously into his shirt pocket for a cigar. Maybe he hadn’t seen every last mile of rough road in Canada, after all, for he had never heard of Laughlin City. In any case—and he glanced appraisingly down that dark, winding road to reaffirm his conclusion—it was as likely a place to look for a dead end as any other.
A grim smile twisted around the cigar between his lips as he scraped a match across the dashboard to light it. He flicked the spent matchstick through his half-open window, then turned the wheel and stepped on the gas, steering the truck down that enticingly uninviting byroad.
He never once thought that what he found at the end of that road might be a beginning.
© 2005 Jordanna Morgan -send feedback