Beginnings everywhere, like tributaries. The barely-there footpaths over the needled forest floor, the slightest heelprint in the wet sand moments before the tide arrives. Beginnings everywhere, and nowhere.
The path begins to become more cultured, more knowable. Towpaths trail obediently canalside. Lines of scree wind up Bens Lomond, Vane, Ime, slowing only to slip underneath footworn styles or to dip beneath the scurried, hurried surfaces of highland burns.
Soon, the little country lanes with thick, sunblock hedgerows, honeysuckle woven over the threads of sunlight that have made their way through. The pitch-dark laybys overhung with blackberries and sloes, indigo fruits on an indigo road under an indigo sky.
A-road parabolas now, sweeping through the chequered farmland, serenaded by white bollards marking some farm or another. Another tributary feeding in.
The road is more ambitious, growing into its curves, its flex. No longer does it slip underneath streams in the little hills. Now, it sits astride the Forth, the Severn, the Humber, the Avon in forms of steel and iron, thickset and jutting out from the rough-hewn rock itself.
Tunnels bore through the mountains, burrow underneath the oceans, governed by the winter, the tides, governed by nothing but the broad, cloud-strewn sky.
All roads lead, and soon it is the thumping gush of the motorways. Red taillights are molten across the windscreen as rain patters down, as it dribbles from the overpasses and the bridges. Here, the road slows, begins to forget its purpose, more than half parking lot.
One cannot contain the road, however. Soon, the clogged arteries become veins, become capillaries once more. Soon, the road begins to slink through the broad hills, before being fissured through the overhangs, overlooked by only rocks and haggard sheep.
Many roads and one. Here we have trodden. Here we will tread again.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Close to the Bone, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flashback Fiction, Cafelit, Best MicroFiction 2021, Writer’s Egg, IdleInk, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father. He blogs at www.matthewjrichardson.com.