“Who was your first love?” Pavel wanted to know.

“Fictional horses,” Elena rolled her eyes at herself.

“How did they break your heart?”

The first real one I rode didn’t want to be ridden for as long as I wanted to ride him, so he got rid of me.”

“Surely some fictional horses have had a different will than their riders.”

“Hmm. What make it seem different?” she thought for a minute. “I think the author’s will makes it different. The author can arrange all the character’s wills to eventually line up with his. A good story will make it seem like a challenge, but in the end, everyone capitulates to the author. In real life, everyone is the author of their own story, and they don’t always have the same ending in mind. Some people may have a stronger will than others and be able to convince them, but strong wills take a lot of energy and effort, as well as patience and the ability to strategize and convincingly implement. I don’t really have all that. I think I would rather that people and horses automatically and already have the same ending in mind.”

“In your story, the challenge wouldn’t be to win over your first love, but to finally, after many partings of the ways, find someone going the same direction as you?”

“I am conflicted about that. Company along the way is very nice. As is protection and provision. I can’t say that it would have been better for me to be alone so far. But I don’t want to rule out that I could have either made it by myself or that it would have been ok for me to die from exposure. Resurrection being the goal, after all. You have helped me think through things. Is thinking through things necessary? It often makes me sad.”

“I can’t seem to leave you alone. The thought of doing that would torture me the rest of my life.”

“What makes you so different?”

“I don’t have anything else better to do.”

“That makes you quite unique in the world.”

“Surely there have been others who have wanted to be with you more than you with them? Haven’t you ever left anybody?”

“You just wont stop, will you? Yes, I have walked away from some people. Freedom should go both ways. Maybe I have broken some hearts too. I’m sorry if I have.”

After walking in silence for a while Elena asked, “What if we came upon someone with whom I would willingly live, or found a cave where I could take care of myself? Then you wouldn’t have to feel responsible for me being on your road.”

“Either my heart would be broken or I would feel relieved from worrying about you. Maybe both.”

“That’s complicated. It makes me wish you hadn’t come back. I don’t like how I’ve complicated your life. You would have been better with the sun to warm and scold you.”

“Maybe the sun wanted me to walk with you. The darkness of winter is coming.”

“It is hard to know what should be. It is easier to know what one wants.” This time she did not smile.