The traveller of the first valley stood in rapt wonder. It was she that had chosen rightly. The other had erred. This valley was life, verdant, thriving. The very air thrummed with new sensations, new ideas, new possibilities which forced their way into her lungs, demanding high spirits, driving weariness from her. This was the valley of depth, the valley sought, the valley loved. It was impossible that she leave. The valley whispered in every zephyr of the secret it possessed, of the order which provided bounty, of the mortar of abundance, and she must know, must understand this great secret if she were to know peace, were to find satisfaction.
The traveller of the second valley sat slumped against the column as the night closed upon her. As the sun had died, so had her hopes. The letters of the plaque bit into the small of her back, her buttocks. This was not the valley of life. She opened her eyes to allow the tears to flow more freely. The polished-black rock was radiating heat, and she swung around to lie with her feet on the column's plaque, letting the tears flow into her hair. And she cried. But, as the comforting warmth faded from the rocks, she found herself staring up at the column, wondering in that idle way of the doomed why the hips of the column flared, and why she thought of them as hips, when the column was just a column. She lay through the night, occasionally wondering on this, occasionally letting her eyes wander over the valley, letting them explore the subtle twists of the reflected sky, the lost stars which tried to explain whatever unknown forces, whatever buried truths had warped the molten rock. As the dawn rose, she was satisfied, for she had taken the right path, and had discovered the valley of depth. With a sigh and an empty stomach, she packed away the roll on which she had propped her head, and continued her trek. Had the column truly been human, it might have noticed a certain lightness in her step.
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This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1997