Where I'm Going

Entry by: Alobear

30th July 2015
Where I’m Going

“Are you sure I can’t persuade you to stay?” she asked.

Anton regarded her solemnly for a moment, then went back to securing his bags.

“Afraid not,” he said.

He could feel her gaze burning into the back of his head and thought he might just give in and agree to stay if he raised his eyes to meet it once more.

The evening before had been an unusual one, and no mistake. Anton had arrived in the small town around dinner time after a long day’s travel, and had stopped at the first place that looked like it served food. It had proved to be a decent quality saloon, and he had secured a table in the far corner.

The barmaid hadn’t drawn his attention at first; there wasn’t anything striking about her appearance, and she had served him competently but without embellishment. The food and drink he had consumed had been above average in his experience, and he had thought he would find somewhere to stay and move on in the morning as usual, his visit entirely without incident.

But, as the evening wore on, Anton had started to notice an interesting vibe to the place, and found himself watching the clientele more carefully. It was clear that most of the people there (nearly all men) were locals and frequented the bar enough to be familiar with each other and with the serving staff. There were friendly exchanges called out across the room between the customers and the barkeep, and the barmaid kept up a running banter with some of the men as she moved about the space. What made it interesting was that their interactions with her weren’t crude or suggestive, as Anton would normally expect. They treated her with respect and courtesy, and she responded with kindness and genuine affection.

It was obvious that the men really cared for the young lady, and Anton even caught a few throwing him suspicious looks whenever she approached his table. He took a closer look at her and found that her sparkling green eyes and bright, friendly smile lifted her fairly nondescript features into a whole new level of attractiveness. He smiled back and was rewarded with a slight pinkening of her cheeks.

They passed a few remarks back and forth, she establishing that he had only arrived in town that day, and he discovering that she was the barkeep’s daughter and had lived there her entire life. Anton ended up staying much later than he had intended, until only one or two customers remained besides himself, and the barkeep started looking pointedly at the clock mounted on the wall above the bar.

Eventually, the barmaid came back over and asked him if he had anywhere to stay. When he answered in the negative, she straight out invited him up to her room for the night.

Anton glanced nervously over at the barkeep, but she just laughed and tossed her hair.

“I live my own life,” was her response.

Turning up in a new town and finding company for the night with ease was how Anton’s days often ran, so the invitation didn’t surprise him in the least. He knew he was very attractive, and saw no reason not to enjoy the fruits of that. If a woman was willing, who was he to refuse?

Once they were in the girl’s room, away from the bustle of the bar, Anton found himself wondering about her. She wasn’t the usual type of vapid creature that normally threw themselves at him, batting eyelashes and exclaiming over his muscles. He discovered he wanted to know more about her, an unfamiliar desire for a deeper connection washing through him. So, rather than immediately moving to kiss her, he instead seated himself at her dressing table and starting asking her more about her life.

As the hours went by, Anton talked about himself as well, revealing things he wouldn’t have told his closest friend, had he had one. He and the girl eventually moved to the bed, entwining themselves in each other’s arms as they continued to learn as much as they could about one another. It was an experience of an intensity that Anton had never encountered before, a depth of intimacy he had previously thought beyond him.

They never even got round to having sex, just falling asleep together as the first light of dawn touched the sky.

Now, Anton couldn’t help but look up, no matter the consequences. Those green eyes regarded him steadily, not pleading, just expectant.

“I could come back,” he said, hating the banality of the words even as they passed his lips.

She stepped forwards and laid a hand on his arm.

“Don’t say that unless you mean it,” she said simply.

And he realised that he really did mean it. For the first time in his long travels and countless hook-ups, he wanted to come back, to spend more time with this girl, to find out what there might be between them that could give his life meaning.

Anton reached up and pulled the leather thong he wore around his neck up and over his head. He took her hand and pressed the metal object on the thong into it.

“Take this,” he said. “It’s a luck talisman. It was the last thing my father gave to me before he disappeared, so you’ll know I’ll come back for it.”

She searched his face. “Won’t you need it?”

Anton thought about the map that was rolled up in his knapsack, and how he had shown it to her the night before, tracing the route he had taken, and where he was going next. At the very edge, far away from where they both stood now, there was an intricate drawing of a terrifying monster. Underneath were inscribed the words: HERE THERE BE DRAGONS.

He gave her a smile full of confidence and bravado.

“Where I’m going, luck will be the least of my worries.”