Crossing the river

She’s been walking since dawn. Her shawl tightly closed against the wind, and her hair flying freely out of her cap and around her face.
The road is empty, it has been like this for hours, and judging by the clouds ahead it will probably keep that way.
Although she’s been walking for some time now, her feet are cold as ice.
At last, she gets to a lake. As she already suspected, she’s lost. She has been lost ever since she left home, since she left him. This road should have led somewhere… Well, in fact it led somewhere, but not where she was expecting to go.
She stares at the boat swaying on the river tied to the cleat on the pier. The fog doesn’t let her see anything beyond the boat. It’s the middle of the afternoon which means the fog will not clear any time soon.
There’s a sign with the name of a village. She remembers hearing about that place, though she can’t recall what was said about it. It doesn’t matter now, anyway, she will not go back, she can only move forward.
Getting in the boat, she lets herself fall on the bench heavily and asks the boatman to take her to the village named in the sign.
Her voice sounds hoarse from being too long without talking.
There’s no answer from the boatman, who has his back on her, but the boat starts moving.
She’s not sure how she will pay the boat fare, maybe with her shawl or maybe she will find in her pockets something the boatman wants. He won’t want the shoes, they are not in any conditions of being used by another person.
The swing of the boat makes her close her eyes and forget for a moment where she is, or why she is on this journey. The fog is leaving her clothes damp making her more uncomfortable. The silence is getting in her bones as much as the fog.
The boat hits the shore with a thud and at last, she opens her eyes.
To her surprise the boatman is not there anymore. Maybe he is already on the pier tying the boat to a cleat. She stands up, and holding onto the pier, she pulls herself up.
There’s no one on sight. This shore is different from the one where she entered the boat. The road is different, it’s a cobbled road while the one she left on the other side of the river was an unpaved road. The trees are different, with their bright colors, and even the birds seem to sing differently, more cheerfully! There’s no other word to describe their twittering!
The boatman is neither in the pier or on shore. Soon it will be dark, and she needs to find a place to sleep, not to mention her sore feet and ragged shoes, which make her even more uncomfortable when she’s not moving. She can stay here waiting for the boatman to return. He has probably gone ahead to the village, she will find him there.
No more than five minutes later, a gate appears on sight. Getting closer she looks for a sentry, to whom she could ask to let her in. There’s no one there, not even a house for guards. What now? Maybe there’s a door nearby that people use to go in and out instead of using the gates. There’s no path, no track, from where she is to the sides of the wall, but she is not going back to look for a path. Are the gates closed for the night? She has never heard of a place doing that, but maybe that’s what’s happening here. She leans back on the wall and lets herself fall to the ground closing her eyes. A scraping noise startles her, making her eyes jerk open. The gate is opening very slowly. She stands up and slowly enters the city. There’s a guard waiting for her on the other side.
He bows his head and motions her to follow him, leading her to the nearest building, a two-story house.
An old lady, waiting on the porch, wraps her with a loving embrace, and whispers in her ear: “Welcome home my sweet child!”.

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