Intro (Sentimental Journey) :
Pressed closely to the window, William Taylor tried his best to find some sort of comfort in the seat he’d taken as he stared aimlessly at miles of trees that seemed to blend together without interruption.
He’d tuned out the sounds around him hours before, wondering when this part of his journey would come to an end. It had begun in another country, brought him home to the arms of his family safely, and away from their comfort when he could not regain confidence in his place. It no longer felt like home.
It took him to a new city, and then another, until it seemed nothing and nowhere near ‘home’ would satiate. He crossed state lines, searching.
His search for something different taking him to a place he’d only heard of once, though he couldn’t remember where or from whom he’d heard the name of the town. From the memories he could gather, it was to be quaint and peaceful, something he needed after years of strife and confusion.
For days before leaving the city, he’d held the thought that he’d miss the sight of buildings stacked on top of one another, cars piled up for miles, and bodies stumbling over more bodies as they walked hurriedly down sidewalks.
He didn’t. There was something about the long stretches of woodlands and excess bodies of water, the slow and quiet days, the short nights filled with the sounds of crickets and other critters that filtered through when he’d let the window down just to feel a breeze while he slept, that brought him a strange contentment. Brought about thoughts of someone he was certain he’d never met, a voice dancing in his memories though he couldn’t recall where he’d heard it. If he’d heard it all.
At brief moments when doubt hit, he felt a fool chasing something and nothing at the same time.
Lifting the handkerchief he’d kept in his hand, he dabbed at the droplets of sweat that danced down the side of his face, praying for some sort of relief to come when the sun set.
“You got that lost, empty stare I’ve seen on so many faces lately. You a soldier?”
Breaking from his thoughts, William looked to his left and gave a small nod. Beside him, sitting to the edge of the seat was an older gentleman, his wrinkled hands holding tightly to the back of the seat in front of them. He hadn’t noticed when the man joined him, but he swiftly made room by placing his bag between his legs. “Yessir.”
“Figured as much, though you look to be getting back on this side of the world a lot later than all the others.” William nodded again, assuring that he could move in closer out of the walkway. “Thank you for the seat. Kindest person I met on this bus. Where are you heading, Soldier?”
The older man leaned forward, staring intently over the brim of his glasses. He gave a look that confused William, one that nearly made him wonder if he’d made the right choice. “That’s where I’m from. Ain’t nothing there but shotgun homes and tumbleweed. A bit too slow for a youngin’ like yourself, if you ask me.”
“I’m thinking ‘slow’ is what I need right now, Sir. Seen a little too much fast action in the last few years and I don’t think I could handle much more at the moment.” William looked out the window again, leaning his head against the pane. “Slow will do me some good, I think.”
The older man nodded, making himself comfortable as he sat back in his seat. “I’m Herman, I’ll be glad to show you around when we make it there. Ain’t but two or three steps to take to see everything, but I’ll show you anyhow.”
“Nice to meet you Mr. Herman, I’m William. And I’d like that very much.”
Continuing in a comfortable silence, William found himself lost in his thoughts again. Slow is just what I need, he told himself