She didn’t know how long she’d been there or where she came from. Only that she had to be somewhere. Where this somewhere was, she had no idea. So she kept on walking and walking. It was hot and there were no trees to give her shelter. Everything was burnt and dead. All she could se was this endless road and all the other people who endured the merciless sun. Maybe they knew were to go.
She tried to ask a little girl who was walking right beside her. The girl didn’t even seem to notice her. She just kept on walking like all the others. Some of them seemed to be in a hurry and ran along the road without caring about anything else but getting somewhere. She stopped and looked for the little girl but she was nowhere to be seen.
Perhaps someone else knew where she was or where to go. But there were no answers or maybe no one cared. Suddenly she felt as if something cold was beginning to grow inside her. A little ball of ice. All she could do was to keep on going.
After what felt like an eternity she noticed that some of the people had stopped as if they didn’t know what to do. The road had split in two. Should you stay on the main road or turn left? Could the other road lead to somewhere? Would you finally reach the destination, wherever that might be?
In the end she tried the new road. Some of the other people did the same. Filled with anticipation she started on her journey. When she looked back she saw that a group of people were just standing there indecisively or just slumped down too tired or too empty to go on. Trying not to care, she turned away from them and continued on her way.
The next time the road split she tried a new direction. Maybe this time it would be different. The next road will get me somewhere. But every time she found herself walking on the same road in the same sterile landscape. The ice inside her kept growing and growing. I can’t take this anymore. I want to get away from everything.
Not knowing why, she began to dig into the ground beside the road. She didn’t stop until the hole was just big enough for her to fit in. The earth felt cool when she climbed down. She just curled up and put her arms around herself as if she wanted to give herself the comfort she desperately needed but never found. She wanted to scream to the people on the road:
But she knew it was no use. No one would answer, no one would care. And the ice kept growing inside her. I could stay here forever, she thought. Even the sun felt a little less threatening inside the hole. But after a while she knew it was time to move on.
When she got up again, she noticed something on the other side of the road. Someone – a young man – was kneeling beside a few men and women who were just sitting there. Some of the people who had given up, who just didn’t have the strength to continue on their journey.
“You can’t stay here forever”, he said, pleading with them. “Please come with me, I’ll help you. ”
This was the first time she’d heard someone talking or caring about anything or anybody else. Who was this guy? She tried to move closer, but there were too many people. He got up on his feet and turned around. His eyes, there was something different about them.
She had heard somewhere that if you looked close enough, you could get a glimpse of a person’s soul in their eyes. If that was the case, this guy had a very beautiful soul. His green eyes seemed to glow. This young man was the first person she’d met whose eyes weren’t cold and dead.
Deep inside her the ice started to melt. The ball was still there, but she was beginning to feel alive again. She just knew she just had to talk to this man, to find out who he was and how he had been able to stay sane in this godforsaken place.
When she tried to move closer again someone pushed her and she tripped and fell. She tried to see who it was. Puzzled, she caught sight of a man carrying an umbrella. Not giving that another thought she tried to get back on her feet. She couldn’t see the green-eyed man anymore.
“Where did he go?” she shouted.
She started to shake a man, trying to get an answer. He just kept gazing at a point behind her. Did he even notice her? He must be here somewhere, she thought. I must find him.
So she began walking again. Some distance ahead, she could see the man who had pushed her. He was carrying this big red umbrella. There was a big crowd around him.
“Follow me, and I will give you shelter. I will protect you from the sun, if you just do as I say. ”
The people around him seemed content even though the umbrella didn’t protect them from the burning sun. Those were the first happy people she’d seen here. They didn’t have eyes looking dead like the other people did, but they didn’t seem quite alive either.
The umbrella man on the other hand had passionate, almost wild eyes as if he had found the answer to everything. Maybe he had, but she didn’t feel like joining him. She wanted to find the answers herself, not accepting somebody else’s truth. For now all she wanted was to find the guy with the green eyes.
When she had walked for a long time and had almost forgotten about the young man with the beautiful eyes she thought she saw him some distance ahead. She tried to get past the people in front of her. When she finally reached the place where she’d last seen him he was gone. Had he really been there or had she just imagined the whole thing? Maybe she wanted to find him so badly she was only fooling herself. But she knew that he was out there. Someday she’d find him.
When she’d walked for several hours, she heard someone scream.
“I found it, I knew I would”, he said.
She moved closer. Who was he? He ran off the road and out into the dead landscape.
“Water”, he said. “Water”.
He seemed so happy, but suddenly it was like all his energy just ran out of him. His face lost all his color and he just slumped down on the ground crying desolately.
Why had he run out from the road like that? What was he looking for? She felt so sorry for him and she wanted to do something for him. Even though it might be dangerous, she walked out to him. She put her arms around him and held him for a long time. When she finally let go, she wanted to ask him something.
“Why did you run off like that? What did you see?”
He didn’t answer for a long time. For a while she feared that he hadn’t realized she was there. But in the end he did answer. He talked slowly as if every syllable was hard for him to produce.
“Everyone knows that there’s an oasis out there. With trees and water. I thought I’d found it. But then it turned out to be an illusion. It’s always like that.”
He sounded so sad. She held out her hand and helped him up.
“You’ll find it eventually. Don’t give up. It’s out there, I know it is.”
They started walking together. It felt good not to be alone. And to finally find some one she could call her friend. Life is good sometimes, she thought. The ice inside her kept melting.
But was this all there was to life? Secretly she longed for something more. She wanted to find out more about the green-eyed man. And now that she’d found out about the trees and the water, she wanted to find that too. She didn’t want to tell her friend that they shared the same dream. She didn’t want to get his hopes up if it turned out to be just an illusion.
A few times times he thought he saw something, but every time she was there to warn him that it wasn’t the real thing. She even thought she saw it herself, but that too turned out to be false. Even so she didn’t give up. Someday they would find their paradise.
One day she decided that enough was enough, that she didn’t want to wait around for something to happen. Life was passing her by. Now she wanted to make something happen. Life was too precious to let it slip through her fingers.
She left the relative safety on the road and walked out in the dead nothingness. She’d done it before when she’d helped her friend and she could do it again, now that she had enough strength.
The man hesitated. This was something he’d wished for for so long. But he was afraid. Maybe there weren’t any trees and water. Was it just a false dream?
She held out her hand again to give him some of her own strength. Would he take it? When she was about to give up hope, he finally took her hand. Would she have gone off without him? She wasn’t sure. Probably she would have. She’d had enough of this road. She needed something else in her life.
They walked for what seemed to be an eternity. Had they made a mistake? But they weren’t worse off than before, were they? When they had almost given up hope, they saw something in the distance. As they came closer they knew what it was. It was the oasis both of them had longed for for so long. There were other people there. Happy children were playing and no one had cold, dead eyes.
Everything was perfect, except for one thing. Would she ever see the green-eyed man again? Suddenly she heard a voice.
“There you are. I knew that you would lead me right.”
She recognized the voice. It belonged to the man with the beautiful eyes. How did he get here? As if he sensed her unspoken question, he continued.
“I followed you here. It’s lovely, don’t you think?”
“Yes, it’s perfect. Life couldn’t be better. I’ll stay here.”
She had found her way. Have you?