Sunday, April 17, 2011

Story-A-Day #157: Focal Point


It had started out as an aimless journey, an idle afternoon wandering through the streets. He hadn’t set out like this in quite some time, with no intent and no set destination to speak of. Still, it felt nice to let his whims take over and go where he might feel like going.

As he wandered, a strange realization occurred to him. There was nothing aimless or random about his route. He was being directed by an unseen force, and while he couldn’t quite place a finger on what it was that was guiding him, he soon figured it out. He was following a series of almost imperceptible lines.

If he looked for them, they vanished, but as long as he kept his mind idle, they were there. Sometimes it was the line of the curb next to the road, but every now and then it would skip over to the corner of a building, up to the line of the rook above, along a crossing power line.

He was compelled to follow this translucent path, to see what his eventual destination might be. He followed it along the street, up an alley, through the parking garage, and down a neighbouring street. He continued, tracing the barely perceptible line along the sidewalk, up the hill and through the parking lot.

As undefined as the line was, it remained rigid, always straight and always moving ever onward. It was a strange realization that there were hidden pathways through the city. It wasn’t one distinct route either. As his mind wandered, he noticed off shoots, paths untaken that would lead him to different places.

He followed the main route, walking aimlessly, hour after hour, towards his unknown destination. When he approached the round-about, he figured his journey might have come to a spiraling conclusion. But there it was, edging along the power lines that gleamed in the approaching twilight.

He followed the line up the steep hill, cars buzzing past him as the accelerated towards their destinations. The line cut up a side road, and he followed it, along the narrow paved lane, until finally the line disappeared into a spray of gravel.

It was not the conclusion he had expected. Why would the invisible lines, those hidden focal points, lead him to a spray of gravel at the end of a forlorn laneway?

He turned, and the city reveled itself below, awash in the glow of a resplendent sky painted in vivid strokes or purple, pink and orange. The best thing about a good mystery was when the solution finally presented itself. Such was definitely the case here. He took in the scene as the colours slowly faded.

As he turned to leave, he noticed something in the grass by the side of the road. He bent and picked up a weathered old wallet. It was familiar, and a dawning realization washed over his as he slowly folded it open. There was his old high school student card, and library card, some old five dollars bills barely held together. He had lost it years ago.

He opened the small snap button pocket and pulled out the silver money clip that his father had given him for his fourteenth birthday. It was in perfect condition.

It turned out that some mysteries were bigger than others. As he set off back down the hill, he wondered what tomorrow’s path would bring.

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