Where the Nest Sits Best

“There’s a toll to go forward.”

She stared with blank eyes that were trying to figure out far too much at once. The words they spoke saved her the trouble of saying anything aloud.

“What will you pay?” She was asked.

“I’m sorry?”

“What will you pay?” was repeated, and she felt fear panic and rattle in her chest.

“I don’t have any money.” Her voice was as shaken and weak as her knees.

“Can you work for it?”

Her knees were trembling and she wasn’t sure if she could stand much longer, “I’m exhausted!”

“Alright.” The voice remained silent while she remained standing desperately. It returned and said, “Alright.”

“I don’t understand!”, but her knees gave way and the exchange was ended.

*************************************************************************************

She was older, bored, and felt the days pass like trees lining a highway while she drove rather mindlessly along.

“Are you happy?”, The voice said to break the decade long silence.

“Happy? From what?”, She asked, breaking through some of the familiar apathy with an axe of indignation.

“Would you like to try a different method of payment?”

She felt found that the past ten years had almost ceased to exist and was back to feeling as she had before, except she was older now and had given up time.

“I’m sorry but I…”

“Do you have a payment to offer?”

“Stop!” She interrupted, “I don’t want to being giving something up without at least knowing what it is!”.

“What has past since we last spoke?” It asked without a hint, allusion, or seemingly a care in the world.

She thought on how she had lived her days and nights alone, preserving but working to build up something for herself. She felt good and had fortune but nothing special called back to her heart.

“I want to feel like I’ve experienced things.” She said quietly, and with that there was no more.

*************************************************************************************

The bench caught her as she took a seat, her weariness calling an end to whatever she was hoping for.

“Are you happy?”, She heard, hoping she was going mad.

There was no reply from her just yet. She felt her legs with her hand and the true fatigue of them weighed her down on the spot. She felt it the most in her neck and shoulders and felt her eyes begin to water.

“No.”, She said, “No I don’t.”

“Is there something else you’d like to give?”

The voice echoed around her with déjà vu and somehow magnified the pain throbbing in her neck, lower back, and knees.

“What difference would it make?”

“Are you not feeling pleased with what you’ve done?” It asked, and she saw the nights pass. New nights and days of adventure, life being lived to the fullest while she took every chance she could happen upon.

“I don’t…think I am.”

There were people walking by. There were all so different in so many different ways that she found something fascinating in the way they were. It was enrapturing and mind filling to observe and think on these strangers as the time passed. She walked to a nearby café when she needed a break, and with her coffee in her hand she watched again.

As the daylight dimmed she felt the coolness on her skin and knew she must return home soon. She whiled the quietest route home and was nearly there when she was spoken to again:

“What will you pay?”

The buildings she past were lite inside with warm orange glows. The streets around her were quiet and the air still, and so through some of the open windows she could hear people speaking (both in anger and in casual conversation), music playing, and through others wafted the smell of food.

“I’m not going to.” She at last replied.

“What about happiness?”

She was several blocks from home when she stumbled came upon a grocery store. She entered and browsed without any real purpose. While looking at the different varieties of bread she remembered that she had headphones in her bag, and so she put them in her ears and picked something to listen to.

“What about it?” She asked.

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