Nami's bag was full of shoes. Sneakers, snow boots, sandals, loafers, moccasins. No matter what one wore in the world, different places had different ground, and Nami stood tall on each patch of soil. Nothing shook her, not even now as she walked up the hill out of the valley and out of her mistakes. Like mud, they pulled her deeper. A swamp, that's what it was. A swamp of mistakes.

She hadn't painted in years, but the trees in bloom would have made a glorious portrait on a dull and dreary wall. Pinks, greens, yellows, and gold. All colors she never wore, but loved to see. Reds, blues, and browns got tiring. Frankly, everything got tiring after a while.

"May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back," she recited to the sky. "May the sun shine warmly on your face."

She could've lived here, maybe, in a past life. Sitting outside on the shore, sketching dolphins and shells and whatever she felt like. It'd be an easy kind of life. It'd be nice to have one of those in her past, wouldn't it? But sometimes her heart didn't have the patience for tranquility. Sometimes it raged, and she didn't know why.

"Why don't you stay awhile?"

The first time someone had asked, Nami had decided to stay. Years and years ago, it seemed now. So long in the past it shouldn't matter. Sometimes the places all blurred in Nami's mind, creating a 'Nowhere' of sorts that she both missed and loathed all at once. Memories couldn't only be good. Some darkness crept in from time to time.

"Why be so cold? Why can't you just open up a little deeper?"

Beneath all the shoes in her bag laid sketches: too many to count and certainly too many to name. Most were strangers, passed on trains and sidewalks, and Nami didn't bother to ask their name before stealing their face. Names led to hellos which led to goodbyes which led to the biggest 'Nowhere' and 'Nothing' of all. The Valley had been nice. The people had been nice. They always were. She always left, anyway.

"Why don't you find a nice boy and settle down? We have room for you."

Sometimes Nami didn't believe her blood was really hers. When it lusted for travel, pulling her along an invisible line to 'Somewhere' to escape 'Nowhere,' it felt forced. As if a puppeteer was yanking her along on a string, promising her the world while the scenery behind her never changed once.

"You're going to die bitter and alone in a strange and empty place, and then you'll wish you'd listened. You'll know better, then."

Seventeen years old and on the streets, Nami didn't know better. When an Inn welcomed her with open arms, she'd praised her lucky stars and slipped inside. She'd drawn pictures to dot the walls, and told jokes to make the fat lady laugh. She'd blushed when the young son drew near, and made all the right movements when he asked.

Well, the screams had come at seventeen years old, and at twenty-seven, Nami still remembered them just fine. She remembered the real tears, the begging and pleading, the pointing of her tiny fingers at that boy and the deaf protests that fell from her lips. She remembered being tossed out the door without so much as a prayer, being called a lying slut, and limping along to find a home. Now, she didn't need one.

"May the rains fall soft upon your fields." Her hands tightened into fists, invisible tears stinging her eyes. "And 'til we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand."

The road ahead stretched like a ribbon into the dawn, too long to carry too much baggage. Nami shouldered her things, the barest essentials, and she imagined all the places she'd yet to see: Egypt, Italy, Russia. With each landmark, something was left behind, and here in Forget-Me-Not she'd leave the one thing she'd foolishly kept with her all along. You can't travel with a splintered heart. And with so much beauty in this world, why bother to hold onto the ugliness? Her feet moved on their own, no pain to spur them onward. Her heart felt light, felt giddy, felt free.

"Why settle for only one corner of this earth? And how can anyone ask for more than an entire world of possibilities?"

Roses crushed in a garbage pail,

A feather for a love that'd surely fail,

An uncertain past we leave behind,

Because yesterday is gone, and today is mine.

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable."

--Madeleine L'Engle.


End Note: I hope you enjoyed. :)