Life is punctuated by moments such as these. Cross-roads if you like, where maybes and what-ifs stretch out for miles ahead of you. And you stand rooted to the spot, at the cross road, looking to the horizon in each direction, searching, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the ‘right way’ to go. But the elusive happiness you are chasing is just too far away for you to see.
There’s no one to ask for help at times like this. Only you can make the decision. Of course people will have their opinions; they will tell you the should do’s or the ought to’s. But all that fades into soft white noise when the moment comes.
It’s too hard, you whisper to yourself. You think about giving up..but you can’t. Or you try to hand responsibility over to destiny; what will be will be. But fate doesn’t play ball; it blocks your view, takes down all road signs and drums its fingers while it awaits your decision.
It’s up to you. You have to decide.
This is where we find Anna. At one such cross road. Here, on this crisp, clear winter’s evening standing beneath the gnarled oak tree that is naked but for one tiny leaf glimmering orange in the glow of the streetlight. The bitter cold pinches her cheeks, making her look flushed. Yet the blame lies not solely with the weather.
Time slows, at it always does in these moments, and gives her the chance to look back at the road that has brought her here. It is littered with memories and experiences; each one significant, each one shaping and moulding the person she is now. The person she is yet to become.
She has long since given up on living a life without regret, for such a life does not exist. Time was when she would look back on her years fearfully, thinking of the things she hadn’t done, hadn’t said, hadn’t listened to. But regret is something we chose to feel in the present. And every decision, every step along our path, comes with a regret of sorts - regret for that which we have done, or for that which we haven’t. We just have to chose which is the lesser of the two.
So as Anna looks up at the stars that peek from between the silvery moonlit branches, she and she alone must decide the road to take next. Her eyes smart in the icy wind that blows and sets her hair dancing behind her. She blinks away full, warm tears, that begin to roll from her eyes, before wiping them from her cheek with a black woolly glove.
Her heart is pounding and she feels intoxicated by the cocktail of excitement and trepidation. How is it possible that she can yearn for the safety and security of one path, and yet, at the same time, ache with desire for another?
He stands behind her, waiting. She can feel him without even touching him such is the pull of these two souls on this dark, frosty night.
Slowly she draws her gaze away from the stars, and clocks and pendulums around the world speed up once more, bringing time right again.
She has made her choice.
And as she turns to face her decision, as if it dare not look, the last leaf finally breaks free from the clutches of the branch of the old oak tree and skips away on the breeze into the night.
This post first appeared as a guest post on the lovely Helen's gorgeous blog All at Sea, as part of her Letters from Another Life series. Do pop over and take a look.
Linking up with Prose for Thought over at VeViVos