I did not wish to return, yet I had nowhere to go. I knew my uncle would be in the parlor with his comrades. They would be drunk and want to ask questions that I could not answer. I was alone--free, yet paralyzed and purposeless. Every fibre of my body ached with numbness and I felt emptier than before. The image of my lady appeared in my mind, and my face flushed in the dark. But my head sank to discover that she was distilled, her once godly glowing brown figure dulled to a vain, common woman. Then I cried.
The salty tears were only a brief return to feeling; once gone, my body spasmed into a deeper vacuum of longing. Not for her, but for something else. I listened for an answer in the dismal foreign avenue. In my wretched state, I fancied I heard a raven tap its beak against the door. I listened more closely, but there was only vacant silence.
Something at that moment transcended all reason or rational thought, and I began to walk away. My boots clanked one step after another in a perfect rhythm of their own accord away from the empty bazaar, away from the train, and away from home. My body followed without protest or inquiry. The cool night air blew mist across my face, but I did not take my hands out of my pockets to wipe it dry. The mud seeped through the holes and sullied my socks until my feet were wet and sloshed noisily in my boots, but I could not be consumed by the frivolity to clean them. The gray looming buildings of the town grew farther away as I treaded on. I walked for hours perhaps; time was not an element.
At last, I had come to the water. It was the only thing that sparkled in the gloom. My thoughts returned in a maddening flood--the girl, my aunt and uncle, the schoolboys. But none of them mattered. Nothing had ever mattered. In that moment, as I saw the physical...