The road less traveled has a pretty good reputation, better than the road I made. I dug it out with my own two hands, paid the guys down the street to haul in the black grit, and even rented the roller to pack it in. Ever since then, it’s been traveled quite a lot. Yet, for each mailman, plumber, and AT&T worker I’ve convinced to use my road as their new route, there’s one who simply won’t defer.
With a name like that, you’d probably imagine a short and stout elderly woman wearing a yellow dress topped by a black sunhat, but actually she’s a single mother of two, young and beautiful and always wears a soft blue blouse with jeans that match her eyes.
“Good day, Ms. Stinger,” I offered as she approached on her black and hot-pink bicycle. She’d bought it for her twelve-year-old daughter, but of course twelve-year-olds don’t want anything you’d think they want. Yet, Ms. Stinger was practical, and wasn’t about to waste a good purchase.
She ran her thumb across the silver bell strapped onto the handle and matched it with a winning smile. “Well hello, Henry. How are you today?”
“Great! Say, have you thought about using my road? The asphalt is nice and packed in by now. I assure you it’ll be a smooth ride down to town.” As runner-up for mayor, it’d look bad if I couldn’t get our best teacher’s aid to even ride down it once. Both roads spit out onto Main Street, and it’d be no secret who supported me and who didn’t, even if Ms. Stinger didn’t see it that way.
She shook her head, bouncing a cascade of darling blonde curls that clung to her sweat-glistened face. “I know you mean well, but I just can’t. I’ve used this tiny road off to the side ever since I was a little girl. My father, rest his soul, always called it the road less traveled, and now it really holds up to its name. It just has a certain charm, and a good feeling sweeps over me every time I use it.” She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead. “I don’t mean any offense, of course.”
I held in an exasperated sigh and gripped onto my shovel’s wooden staff. “Yes, of course, Ms. Stinger.”
She nodded to my work. “What is it you’re doing there?”
I pushed the flat blade into the pool of cement I’d just poured. “Putting in the sign. I’m making it official, you see.”
She glanced at the green slip of metal resting on the ground. Even from a glance, it should have been easy to read the name, bold white letters staring up at the sky. But she didn’t react, not even a flinch.
Instead she drew in a deep breath, as if considering what to say. After a moment, she finally exhaled and matched my gaze. “Even though I’m sure it’s paved with good intentions, I will continue on my road less traveled.” She pressed her lips into a crease and turned down the unpaved trail filled with rocks and red-caked dirt.
I sighed. I’d thought deep and hard about it, the best possible name that would change Ms. Stinger’s mind about my road. What was the most reliable stone one could travel upon? What kind of rock had a strong and attractive name? Then it’d hit me. Who wouldn’t want to ride down a road named “Brimstone”?
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