He walked down simple unmarked trails, dripping feelings like a swordburst pinata filled with pain and liberty and melancholy, all wrapped in wax paper with witty sayings on them.

“Take two birds and tie them together. They have four wings, yet they cannot fly.”

He put this into his pocket with the others, since he was unable to discard his humanity and litter pristine forests with anything but his echoes. Footsteps and gentle moaning reverberated as he told himself lies like ‘everything will be okay’ and ‘this is peaceful’. He distracted himself with the mundane, doing nothing useful to pass the time. This worked less well than he had hoped, as much hope as he could muster in this seemingly deserted place. Is utopia found alone? Is it an endless series of somewhat adjacent solipsist pocket universes, each one with a creamy center called Persona?

Where was this trail going?

That is when the sensation of several tiny pinpricks on his shoulder reached his busily occupied mind, taking a scenic route past his eyes to truly see, rather than just absently looking. A small bird, lovely but heart racing with exhaustion had just alit upon his shoulder. ‘Here is something wonderful,’ he thought. She was shivering, and though he had warmth, he feared touching her without her leave, chilled though she was. He gently warmed her with his breath, and she stopped shivering, contented. He smiled as much as he dared, suspecting that the constable of his mind had once again put up wanted posters for his Wish to Believe In Happiness. She remained perched, first on his left, then on his right shoulder, the sheriff delayed for now. This delighted and surprised him, her appearance as much as her pursuit.

“Hi, Little One. I’ll be your rest when you’re weary.”

The governor of his mind granted a full pardon to his Quest for Blissful Utopia. He held out his finger, and waited patiently. She gave one beat of her tiny wings and perched on it, staring at him intently. He stared back, and at last allowed himself to smile. She seemed to nod, knowingly, taking up residence on his shoulder once again.

Unmarked trails still led everywhere and nowhere. but he hadn’t really been going anywhere. This newfound companion showed him, simply by existing, simply by being there, just how to begin healing himself. That fortunes are just silly words, and happiness is not a place on a map. Bliss is sharing a connection with a companion who is willing to travel the same unmarked trails he walks, as far as they go. A lifetime, if he’s lucky.

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