The Frightening Path

 A man stood at a crossroads.

            One way was crooked and filled with dark and thick growing things. Twisted trees—aged and knotted—thorny shrubs, and winding vines filled either side of the path so heavily that the higher growth of leaves and branches met and intertwined. Cloaked and menacing figures trod that way, their faces covered, their hands gnarled. Strange creatures with red eyes would dart this way and that, from one side of the path to the other, never visible long enough to do any more than make a scratching sound that raised the hairs on the man’s arms. And from a long way down the path the sound of weeping and sharp gnashing drifted on a swift, stunted wind.

            The other way was straight and simple. A dusty trail that kicked up slightly as people in normal clothes traveled with their neat bags slung over their shoulders. These took normal steps, with their faces shiny, their fingers unbent. In the distance the sight of structures, plain and robust, gave an image of cleanliness and careful shelter. Occasionally the smell of wholesome food wafted on a gentle breeze. And the sound that drifted past the man’s ears was one of chattering and clinking and general living of daily life.

            The man was not torn about which direction he would take. Of course, he would head along the simple dusty path, towards the places of food and company. A safe road.

            But then a hint of something caught his eye, like a sparkle of glinting silver. Turning toward the dark, crooked path, he caught the light again. Flickers came and went like sparks—bright and fleeting as though made of moving stars—and filled the man with awe.

            And so he took the frightening path, and sought out days of wonder.

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