The Endless Road of Redemption

Submitted into Contest #239 in response to: Write a story where your character is travelling a road that has no end.... view prompt


Adventure Coming of Age Inspirational

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

My chest was already in spasms, etching their way into my jaw, when I saw her Audi pulling into the driveway. The metallic tang of dread mingled with the taste of blood, a consequence of biting my cheek incessantly. Hoping to wash away the impending apprehension, I quickly swallowed a sip of water that felt obstructed in my throat.

"Ah, just who I wanted to deal with right now," I muttered to my seemingly unsympathetic ceiling. Heather, the self-proclaimed expert on my life, had arrived. In the last 23 years, she's been a front-row spectator to nearly every emotional circus I've hosted. She could read my vibes like a fortune teller reads palms, but today's vibe was a mystery even to me. Out of the blue, this ominous cloud crashed into my emotional well-being. No life-altering events had triggered it—just a sudden, uninvited squall of anxiety.

In an attempt to evade her notice, I hit the deck and army-crawled across the living room, hoping she wouldn't see me in the bay window.

"What are you looking for, Rem?" Heather questioned, swinging the front door open and welcoming herself into my house, only to discover me crawling on the floor like a decapitated caterpillar. I give up.

Despite the gravity of my anxiety, the scene took on an absurd quality—a dark humor that punctuated the heaviness of my emotions. "What's wrong with you? You've fallen off the face of the earth; you won't return my calls; you haven't been to school all week; you don't even answer the door when I know damn well you're here. I mean, your car's in the driveway." Concerned, Heather raised that bushy eyebrow as the wrinkles on her forehead tried their hardest to outwit the Botox. The worry spoke through her glazed eyes, though.

Instead of getting off the floor like a typical person would, I kept slithering around on the shaggy, stanky carpet. I'd rather be a decapitated worm.

That encouraged her; she set her purse down, slipped her shoes off, straightened her skirt, which didn't make sense, and pitifully kneeled on the floor like she was going to contract meningitis or syphilis if she touched the carpet. The carpet was actually gross. It had been a while since I vacuumed. Too much exertion. It smelled like a wet dog and an old vacuum bag full of skin cells and dust mites. That dank smell.

She was too close; I could feel her hot breath, and it stung my eyeballs. At least it didn't smell bad. That could be what the sting was—trident spearmint. Or winterfesh.

"I'm serious, Remster; I'm worried about you." An unmistakable tear slid down her face like it was playing Plinko with her freckles. Her chin quivered, and her nostrils twitched, indicating, in fact, that the tears were real.

"I'll spare you the misery of none of the details 'cause there aren't any. There is no need to join in on my pity party." I rolled my eyes again, which momentarily sidetracked my misery and left me pondering if they could actually get stuck in the back of my brain if I did it too much.

"Jesus, just leave me alone. I don't know what's wrong with me, but you're making it worse." I arched into a backbend and stood out of it as every vertebra in my back cracked like those plastic air puffs when you squeezed them.

"Ya know, whatever stick you have up your ass, you need to pull it out. I'm sick of your pissy attitude. Just tell me what's wrong." Heather barked assertively, shocking me. It made me feel a little guilty about how I had been treating her. She was just concerned. I would be for her if the roles were reversed. But everything annoyed me these days, and my tongue seemed quicker than my reflections. As Heather confronted my erratic behavior and struggled to understand the shadows encircling me, a mix of concern and frustration played on her features. She had been my confidante for over two decades, weathering the storms of my emotions. With each dismissive gesture and eye roll from me, her worry intensified. Under the exterior of annoyance, a deep well of love and care for me surfaced, etching lines of concern on her forehead.

"I just. I'm depressed. I don't know who I am anymore or what the hell my purpose is. I'm lost. Frustrated. Helpless. Scared." I snarled with the same combative tone. "Is that what you want to hear?"

"Yes. It is. I want to help. So let me." She patted me on the back like a desperate, lost puppy.

Oh, Lord, here we go. She will leave if I comply, and I just want this awkward moment over.

"So, I keep hearing about this endless road deal on my SWB podcast lately. Everyone is talking about how life-changing it is. It's an endless road you walk down that doesn't have," Heather started to explain, but I cut that predictable long come-to-Jesus crap short, interrupting,

"Ok. Ok. Ok. Whatever you want. I'll go; I'll do it, whatever your great idea is."

"Super, see you at 6 a.m. tomorrow." She stated matter-of-factly, grabbing her purse, sliding her shoes on, and leaving just as she entered on a mission.

At 5:59 a.m., I awoke to the earth-shattering footsteps of a self-proclaimed life coach stomping unnecessarily loudly down my hall. Fricking frack. I am not getting out of this one. I hid under my blankets like a child, hoping the monster under the bed would join me in solidarity.

"UP! Throw some workout clothes on and sneaks."

I continued to hide, not breathing, because that would trick her, right?

"Hurry up, we gotta go; I want to be there before the sun rises; I heard that's the most transformative time. And it's in Linnendale. I'll make us some coffee and wait in the car." Heather said as she ripped the sweaty sheets off my entire bed, leaving me vulnerable and caught.

I sort of hurried. I didn't brush anything; I just couldn't find any motivation. The worrylords crawled through my lower back, trying to work their way up to my heart and head to hold me hostage again as I sluggishly locked the door behind me.

"So what is this gig anyway?" I questioned, getting into her car. Now, I'm curious.

"Like I was saying before, you rudely interrupted me yesterday," she said, winking and slurping her coffee. "On my podcast, they said that according to local folklore, the road was considered a mystical pathway that connected the tangible world with the ethereal realms. It was said to be a transformative journey where you could embark on a quest of self-discovery and spiritual awakening." She looked at me to ensure I was listening and proceeded. "Legend had it that the road was a conduit for ancient energies, carrying whispers of forgotten civilizations and offering a unique experience to those who dared to tread its path. I guess the journey is supposed to be a passage through time and consciousness, revealing hidden truths, confronting inner demons, and ultimately leading to personal growth and enlightenment." She looked at me seriously, but her eyes looked like she hadn't convinced herself with that explanation.

We'll see when we get there. I was having a hard time envisioning what she said. Did I hear that right?

"Is this a joke? Endless road, huh? This might take a while." That was my futile attempt at a joke. I get unfunny when anxious, cueing the worrylords to creep up my spine and squeeze the back of my neck and shoulders. They were relentless today.

When we pulled into Linnendale Park, no one was there. No wonder the sun was just starting to rise. Everyone's still sleeping like I want to be.

"Here we go!" Heather said, clasping her fanny pack and taking off down the street with no warning, explanation, argument, nothing, nada, zilch. So I begrudgingly followed.

She was walking at a proper clip when I finally caught up. Then she slowed her roll, thankfully.

It was a pretty cool road I'd never seen before. There was an energy I could physically feel coursing through my feet and body with every step I took. The golden hour sun had just peeked over the cottonwoods that lined the horizon, casting wicked, cool shadows that seemed to detach themselves from the surroundings, whispering in a different language to me that I somehow understood. These ethereal voices gossiped about old memories, past regrets, and unspoken feelings. At first, it was unsettling, but the shadows forced me to confront buried emotions I'd been suppressing, allowing a cathartic release of a deep, growling sigh that startled me.

As we continued, ghostly figures appeared intermittently, embodying moments of joy and happiness from my past. They were fleeting and elusive, prompting a shift in my focus towards finding joy as we walked rather than dwelling on the past.

I wondered if Heather was seeing and feeling what I was, but I didn't ask questions because the moment solicited a need for silence. A heavy vibration surrounding me made me feel at ease, almost peaceful and calm. These positive feelings have been foreign to me lately, so I embraced them.

I don't know how long we had been walking, but now I've slid down a rabbit hole of curiosity and contemplation in my mind. Something internal was happening to me. The road seemed to pulsate with an ethereal energy, whispering secrets of forgotten civilizations and promises of self-transcendence. Shit, which I'd never even thought about before.

Each step opened up a new view, a breathtaking panorama that simultaneously thrilled and humbled me.

As a layer of apprehension relented, I began to embrace the moment. I felt as carefree and innocent as I had once been as a child. Sparks of hope and imagination had replaced the clutter and burdens obstructing me in my mind. I felt light and free. And dare I say it? Alive.

The further along the road, the more time became an abstract concept, shifting and bending at will, blurring the boundaries between what was known and what was yet to be discovered. As if days melded into nights and seasons merged into one another. I was caught between reality and dreams, experiencing profound clarity yet sublime confusion. I recalled pivotal moments from my past, which allowed me to reinterpret these events. I felt an overwhelming need to foster forgiveness and acceptance. As the echoes of the past gradually lost their power over the present, they miraculously healed my emotional scars.

Ahead, I could see luminous stones scattered along the road, reflecting Heather's emotions. I could feel her sympathy and joy as she silently glided by my side. When I picked up one of the mood stones, vivid memories and emotions surfaced. I began rehashing critical moments from my past. I instantly felt vulnerable, allowing myself to dig deeper into my soul.

Lost in contemplation, a mystical veil startled me as it fell before me at one point on the road, reflecting my inner self. Stepping through it, I was confronted with manifestations of my fears and insecurities. I bravely conquered these incarnations and crushed the demons with a strength I was unaware of, which boosted my resilience and gave me a renewed sense of self-worth.

I noticed the repetition of an infinity symbol in the changing landscape. It made me think of the limitless possibilities that lay before me. The spiral twirling through the air is navigating me through this transformative journey of growth and self-discovery.

As we rounded a bend, an elaborate labyrinth emerged from the shadows of a dense forest that challenged our willpower and tested our perseverance. It presented riddles and illusions, encouraging us to embrace the complexities of our own existence. As we navigated through the intricate twists and turns, we found hidden truths unlocked in our souls' depths.

At one point, we encountered a mystical fountain that conjured deep emotions from the essence of my core, unleashing tears. Each tear that fell into the water rippled into a luminous, floating orb. These orbs were conveying the emotional baggage I'd been carrying. So I let it all out, releasing all of the pain. Embracing the emotional liberation lightened the colossal burden I'd been holding on my shoulders.

A beautiful celestial bridge appeared at a crucial juncture, offering me a chance to rewrite aspects of my past. Walking across the bridge, I was allowed to make amends with others and, most importantly, myself. I got to express suppressed feelings I was hindering and rectify some futile mistakes I had made. The transformations led from one phase of my life to another, unveiling connections between the lessons learned and the experiences yet to come. The bridge affirmed the continuous potential for growth and redemption in every moment.

As we journeyed further down this endless road, something dawned on me. This was not just a physical journey but a metaphor for life itself. The road was a never-ending search for purpose and fulfillment, a quest for a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. It reflected my human condition, where the journey itself was the goal, not the destination at its end. I realized that as I continue to voyage through this life, I will discover more about myself, but the journey toward understanding and self-discovery will never truly end. The endless road. I'm actually shocked at my epiphany.

An eclectic old man greeted Heather and me as we neared what appeared to be the end of the road. He had a mythical twinkle in his eyes, and he confirmed my thoughts by revealing the secret that had eluded me all this time. The road, he explained, was not a means to an end but an invitation to embrace the wonder of the unknown, to find solace in the unanswered questions, and to seek fulfillment in the perpetual pursuit of growth and self-discovery.

As we took our last steps, the road dissolved before our eyes, merging seamlessly with the vastness of the universe. I realized that the endless road was not a separate entity but an integral part of my own consciousness, an embodiment of my eternal quest for meaning and self-realization.

At that moment, I understood that the road had never ended, for it resided within me, guiding my every step. The revelation brought a profound sense of peace and contentment as I realized that the journey was not an isolated event but a continuous exploration of the boundless depths of my own existence.

I glanced at Heather with my profound realization written on my face; she just nodded, smiling and confirming my thoughts. Still, the pleasurable silence remained.

Suddenly, specters of joy surrounded us, sending a spontaneous moment of elation coursing through my veins. That beautiful moment was swift, making me realize the value of cherishing these fleeting moments, knowing to let them go, and accepting the transience of life.

As we looked back at the endless road, the mystical elements had already begun working their transformative magic, profoundly impacting my emotional and mental state. The experiences along the journey had become stepping stones toward a newfound understanding of myself, my purpose, and my resilience.

In the wake of this experience, gratitude and joy streamed down my face as I tightly wrapped my arms around Heather. As we embraced each other, a silent understanding passed between us. I had found a sense of purpose within myself. I declared that navigating life after the endless road experience will become a commitment to living authentically and embracing the journey, regardless of its challenges.

Knowing she had played a crucial role as a guiding force, Heather smiled at me with a sense of fulfillment, recognizing that I could no longer be defined by the past's shadows. The support and love she provided served as a beacon of light during my darkest moments, and now, with a shared understanding, we are ready to face the next chapter.

The impact of the endless road journey on my day-to-day life was nothing short of revolutionary. The lessons I gleaned from the mystical experiences along the road seeped into every fiber of my being, transforming the way I approached each day. The luminous stones of reflection, the ephemeral specters of joy, and the whispers of the shadows have become an intrinsic part of my emotional toolkit, guiding me through moments of introspection and growth.

With Heather by my side, I could envision a future filled with possibilities. The bridge of second chances has allowed me to mend relationships, and the fountain of tears has washed away the stains of my regrets.

The wisdom gained from that transformative experience manifested in my actions and decisions, creating a ripple effect that touched every aspect of my life. The endless road had not only ended but had also marked the beginning of an eternal journey within.

February 27, 2024 06:32

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Kristina Lushey
21:51 Mar 06, 2024

The more I read this story, the more I liked it. I liked the second half better when you moved into the description of the 'road' and its transformative effect on you. Very descriptive, and evocative. Thank you.


Show 0 replies
David Sweet
00:20 Mar 04, 2024

I know this is extended metaphor for therapy, but it would be nice if it were as simple as getting up and walking down a road. But you are correct: it is a day at a time, step at a time, road to recovery. Thank you for sharing.


E.L. Lallak
18:32 Mar 04, 2024

Only if, right?


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.