She walks the hard road, wary of rabbit holes, of hurtling without handhold to places where what is is not and the ridiculous commonplace.
She holds the pen in a steady hand, fills in details on dotted lines.
She signs an indemnity form – absolves the keepers of the road from any responsibility. ‘It’s a hard road,’ they warn. On this road you abandon imaginings, hope and mystery. Are you sure you want to proceed?’
‘I must,’ she says.
And a small voice inside her cries, no no, no.
She plods on.
She walks the hard road, one careful foot after the other. She is glad to be here, where trees are not whispering leaves; glad to walk where no heartstones crush beneath her feet.
Nothing shifts, but a child, squashed down and down and down, to a hidden room. She locks the child away. She locks the child away, in a room filled with stories and myth, fantasy and dreams.
She walks the hard road. She does not smile. She does not sing.