Chapter 2

Elena Petrovna wept as she went along her way, not caring about the details of the road. She was vaguely aware that her evening slippers were rubbing blisters on her toes and heals. She kicked them off and left them where they fell. She kept on with no thought in mind but to go in the opposite direction from which she came.

“Good evening,” said a man’s voice from the side of the road, not far ahead of her.

She slowed down considering if she should quit putting more distance between her and what was behind.

“To you maybe.” She picked up her pace.

The roughly dressed man got up and started walking in the direction she was going so that he would join her in a few paces if she continued. She wasn’t of a mind to stop making distance with what was behind, even if it meant having to deal with an obstacle ahead.

“A time-keeper told me that I have to let things onto my road, and to know them too,” the man said simply.

“Thank you for letting me use your road,” said Elena flatly.

“You’re welcome. I tried to stone the timekeeper, but thankfully I missed.”

“Then you sound about as willing to know trespassers on your road as I am to be distracted from my walk.”

“One must do what one is told. Did someone tell you to walk this way?”

“No. I am refusing what I was told.”

“What were you told?”

“To stay in my room and talk to no one.”

“Why were you told to do that?

“Because I was disruptive towards a guest in the house.”

“Oh.”

Elana started walking faster.

“My name is Pavel. I was going the opposite way.”

“Don’t let me disrupt your plans. Does your road include where you have already been or just where you are and are going? If the latter, you don’t have to know me anymore.”

“Good question. What do you think?”

“I think if it is truly your road, you have to know what is on all of it.”

“That sounds right.”

“Did someone tell you this is your road?”

“I have no private possessions, so that makes the public road my only possession.”

“If I stay on this road, will I be a trespasser, or will it be mine too?”

“It depends on if you belong here.”

“I don’t want to belong back there.”

“You are upset.”

“Yes. Too upset to be with them.”

“That may change.”

“I don’t think so.”

“That’s because you’re upset.”

“What’s back there would have to change for me to not be upset, and I don’t think it will. I’ve tried to change for them, but it hasn’t worked. I can’t quit being me, and they can’t quit being them.”

“Sometimes there are moral obligations to change.”

“It was theirs, not mine.”

“I’m sure they think that way about you, too.”

“Yes, they do. And they will always think that because they own the house. Why should they change for someone lower than themselves, especially if they believe they are right. Believing you are right is a luxury for the rich.”

“Are you rich?”

“No. Believing you are right is also a luxury for those who don’t want anything. Like you, for example.”

“Are you now in a place where you don’t want anything?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t want what is back there.”

“Where will you sleep, and what will you eat?”

“I don’t care.”

“You are free not to care if there is no one you are responsible for.”

“Don’t worry, you are not responsible for me. I think you know me now, so shouldn’t you go back to your other direction?”

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