• All Roads Lead to the End

    The stained glass of the colorful, artistic window was foggy from the chilled drizzle outside that created the subtle rumble I was so used to. A sad smile played upon my lips as I turned away to face my, now, empty room. My goodbyes are already a cliché in the making, I thought with a bitter taste in my mouth. It was hard to believe I was leaving all of this behind. The small town with all of it's strange and kind residents, the clock tower that had been made my home by it's crippled keeper, even the mangy stray cats along with the dirty rats that had made the lower levels their place of residence felt like family to me. And once I was gone none of them would remember me.

    The floor sounded hollow as I made my way across the vigorously cleaned floors, echoing my own feelings. I couldn't even begin to imagine how long it took me to get them this way and now that I was about to be gone it would fall into disrepair again as the keeper could not keep up the task. I felt sorry for the old man. I had been his only company in this old, slowly crumbling tower and without any children of his own I was certain that once he was gone the next owner wouldn't be nearly as committed. Then, just like me, the clock tower would fade from existence.

    The skirts of my dress rustled underneath me as I slowly made my way down the spiraling wooden staircase that showed it's age with each creak under my heels. The echoes of dripping water danced along the walls and reminded me of the time that was quickly passing. It seemed that everything was there to remind me of all the history I now had with this world as well as the future I knew I would never know in it. In that history was there anything I could have done to make it possible to stay? I doubted it. It had been my destiny to leave from the beginning and besides I couldn't forget that this wasn't the only world where I had people who loved me. I had to say though that the people who loved me here were vastly more interesting.

    Stop it, I told myself, If you keep this up you'll burst into tears again and lord knows this place doesn't need anymore rain. As if a reminder I feel my puffy eyes sting a bit. No more tears. The time for them has passed and I no longer had time to give them more. I slide the hood of my cloak up to help protect my head from the tiny water missiles, falling from the crying sky. See you've got the gods crying for you.

    Well, that was a lie. The Gods weren't crying for me; they were crying because their entertainment was over. Yes I'm sure it was a fantastic show for them. Taking me from my world and putting me in this one. It was kind of like taking a pet insect and putting it in a different cage, one with a completely different environment and seeing how they adapt. My new cage just happened to have strange, vicious creatures, pirates, and power-mad alchemist who wanted to dissect me so he could control time. Nice.

    I had reached the end of the square and was now looking down a boulevard lined with dozens of warm, inviting shops. A few of them had small plumes rising into the air and the beautiful, gleaming, brass machines that had left me in awe when I had first arrived here. These were mostly the cafes, potion shops, and less spacious inns. One particular café had been my favorite and I would miss its pudgy owner deeply. I couldn't help but look into its misty windows longingly as I passed it. Only a few customers but I hadn't expected otherwise. Who wants to be out in this dreary weather?

    A deep sense of dread was slowly building up in my chest as I came closer and closer the next corner. The doorway home was in the park which was on my next right. I didn't want to take another step. My entire body was screaming for me to stop, to turn back and forget about everyone in my own world. To keep living here and do all the things I had thought of over and over again. Sure people back home would miss me but that would pass with time and maybe I could make a deal with gatekeeper to let me send them a letter every now and then that I was alive and doing well. At least then they wouldn't think I had died or anything and I would be happy.

    My heart leapt at the thought but the dread was quick to reclaim it. I couldn't stay. If I stayed then this world would only get more damage than it already had and I couldn’t live with that. So I would leave and never have a place in this world again. After all, that was the way it was supposed to be in the first place.

    The rain had ceased and I was now turning the corner with, what felt like, fifty tons pressing down on my feet, trying to get me to stop moving forward. I pushed forward persistently though, I was almost to the tree line that marked the entrance to the park. Once I went through there, there was no turning back. As I took my first step into the park a powerful tingling feeling ran up my leg and spread through out my body, sending all the hairs on my arms on end. I recognized the feeling as powerful magic. Oh god, it was time.

    I made my way through the trees whose leaves were weighed down with rain and branches who were weighed down with squirrels taking shelter within it's earthy sanctum. The smell of wet grass and the dampened rose petals filled my nostrils, creating an almost dream like effect to everything. My imagination haunted me with hazy images of children running around, lovers holding hands and smiling in love's sweet bliss, and one ghost that was particularly painful to look at. He was sitting at his favorite bench, the one facing towards one of the main fields that was bordered on one side by the gardens, he had a sketch pad on his lap and his pencil was gliding over it's slightly rough surface with an angelic grace. As my faint shadow passed over the garnished wood he looks up at me, his dark blue opaque eyes boring into mine, a blink, and he's gone again. Losing him had to be the hardest part about this thing and part of me wished that I had never met him that day. That we had never shared that first wonderful smile of love.

    I shook my head and looked ahead again. No time to go down memory lane, I could now see the portal. Sitting next to it was the one who had started this entire thing. He had chosen the form of a beautiful, snow white panther and his golden cat eyes were on me with a wise patience that seemed to only come with being unbelievably old. I had always felt like a child when talking with him.

    "I take it you have finished your goodbyes." His deep voice purred expectantly.

    "I never had goodbyes to give. They won't remember me, so why waste my breath?" I responded sadly.

    "Closure, my dear girl, closure." He sighed, raising his hind legs so that he is standing. "Your things are already on the other side so you can pass through when you're ready. However, I'll warn you that once you are there you're on your own. I can no longer intervene in your human activities."

    I swallowed and looked down at my feet. "Will they really forget I was ever here?" My voice was barely above a whisper.

    He nodded solemnly. "Yes. They will only know of the disappearance of Rimydad."

    I replied with my own small nod. "Good. Well, then… This is good bye." I held out my hand for a handshake but soon felt foolish for doing so. He was apparently thinking the same thing and his feline lips were twisted ever so slightly in a small, amused smile. "Sorry…"

    "Goodbye, Sara. You're future will be a bright one."

    I smile for the first time and do a small curtsy. Then, with a deep breath, I take my first step back into my own world.

    Farewell my friends. I will never forget all that you have taught me.