He was 64 years old. He had lived his life making the correct decisions, always doing the right thing and never causing anyone any trouble. He and his wife had raised a wonderful family. He had grandchildren. He lived alone, his wife having died several years earlier.
He ate dinner at 5:30, took a walk in the woods outside his house, and was back in time to watch Jeopardy. This he did every evening.
And then he retired from the company he had worked for for thirty-nine years. That day they had brought in a cake. Chocolate cake. He sipped coffee from a styrofoam cup and everyone asked what he was going to do in his free time. He just shrugged and smiled. He would not see his coworkers again.
That evening, he didn’t go home. He drove to the city, to the big park where people walked dogs and threw frisbees and rowed boats in the lake. He had heard of the walking trails. They stretched for miles, meandering through the park and beyond, connecting the various neighborhoods of the city with meticulously planned greenbelts. He had never walked the trails before. He had never been to the park.
He started walking along the big, open field where children chased one another. He walked along the lake. Along the edge of the woods.
Then a fork in the trail.
Which one? It didn’t matter.
On he walked. Deep into the woods. Bicycles passed him. Joggers, too.
On he walked. Into neighborhoods he didn’t know. Then among the trees again.
On he walked.
He was hungry. When he came out of the woods again, he would find a place to eat. Maybe a diner. Maybe a He was home in time for Jeopardy.bistro. Maybe a food truck. After that, a drink in a bar. He didn’t drink, but all was new, the possibilities before him were rich.
On he walked.
Ahead, the light flooded the trail as the trees parted. His pace quickened as he anticipated the world that awaited.
The lake. The field. His car.
A circle. One long circle.
So. No new world. No new adventure. The possibilities before him were not rich, but predictable.