April 14, 2023 | By Decca Harper

Eudocia was a young woman who worked at a café in a small town on the road to Lake Shal’man. Many passing travelers genuinely felt the town was their own discovery, never stopping to reflect that this road was commonly travelled, and this town perhaps often visited.

Eudocia studied maritime trade at University in a city to the east, but she had maintained the habit of coming home over the summer months and taking up employment in the café.

For many of the lake-bound visitors, she was only the young woman in the café, warranting not so much as a memory. Yet for others, she was the town girl, discovered in this sleepy, rustic place, a flower amid fern, who had probably never even seen Lake Shal’man! This image of Eudocia would remain, even as all concrete details of the town faded into some vague impression like dreams at dawn.

Of course, Eudocia had been to the fabled lake often. As a child, she visited with her family, and now, sometimes, she would drive out to its shore alone and run her hands through its soft waters, trying to think about her life but becoming distracted by the memory of a misshapen pebble seen minutes ago.

Eudocia loved the town the same way somebody may love a well-worn jacket, patched up one too many times – with the awareness that it would soon be relinquished. Years ago, Eudocia had been nervous to leave the town – now it was coming home that was troubling.

The town was familiar as anything could be, but alienating in the awareness that it would be gone, when she completed her studies and set off to advance her career some hundreds of miles away in the capital.

The travelers who called her the town girl did not know these details; they would not want to know. Better to indulge those charming daydreams – imagine if she came with me to Lake Shal’man! Imagine if we could see the whole world, imagine her amazement! What a wonder she is! And if I had never stumbled across this quaint town…!

In the evening, Eudocia stepped outside the cafe into the still-humid air. The road to the lake stretched on forever. She walked two miles home.

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