I made it to the top. I did everything they had said to do in the guide. I made sure to follow the signs. I walked down the entire trail. I climbed the mountain.
“That’s it?” I gasped out as I found myself at the end of what was supposed to be–or at least was advertised as–THE MOST EXCITING ADVENTURE OF MY LIFE!!!.
That was my big moment. I should have felt fulfilled. But for some reason, the only feeling I was able to locate within me was the bitter taste of disappointment.
“Yeah, that’s it,” said a voice behind me.
I turned around to see who it belonged to, but was too blinded by the sun to make out his face.
“That’s it,” he repeated. “Unless…”
“Unless what?” I asked with a faint spark of hope.
“Unless you dare to lose the map,” he finished, pointing to the piece of paper I was clutching in my hand. I looked down at it, then looked back up at him.
“But that’s so… reckless!”
The stranger tilted his head back and erupted into laughter. Having contained himself after a while, he spoke again:
“You seem to me like someone who won’t be satisfied with a well-trodden path. Am I right?”
I frowned. Was I satisfied? No. My excitemend had been fading with every mile I walked.
He nodded knowingly, as if he’d read my mind.
“What are you waiting for, then? Take the road less travelled. Get lost. Visit places uncharted. Dance on the edge.”
My eyes widened with every word that left his mouth. A part of me immediately classified those things as dangerous and irresponsible, refusing to even take them into consideration. But somewhere deep down, there was another part of me– curious and daring.
“So?” he demanded. “Safe or alive? What’s it gonna be?”
I knew the answer before he asked the question. I nodded and took a step towards the stranger. I took a step towards the unknown.
“Welcome on board, Mrs Reckless.”