I decide to take the wagon route.
It’s longer but smoother. This is the route everyone takes with their animals. Anyone not a daredevil, or former mountain runner, or past the age of 40 takes the wagon route. It’s called the route.
My mind made up, I don’t have to bother hurrying. I check out all the places I pass as I walk.
First, the old man’s place. He isn’t out. They say he used to be a big man on the mainland, but the drug got him. Now he waits out the rest of his life just to smoke and dream. He hardly talks. His place is falling down around him. I think it’s depressing.
Further down, I see Violet’s house. She is a sweet woman with twin boys. Her husband’s a fisherman like my dad. I hear sounds from her house. I always like to see what the boys have built in her yard. They construct ships and houses from whatever they can find around the island.
I walk for a while with wild lands to see. The heather looks dusky purple in the dawn. It’s like I am the only one on the island. The wind whirls my hair. It feels fresh and I’m almost in a good mood. Maybe this last year of school will be OK.
Now I see my favorite place. It’s the old woman’s. She keeps sheep. They dot the pasture. Her place always looks lively. She moves them from different paddocks. I don’t know why.
Today they’re in the paddock closer to the road. I lean on the stone fence. Their wool looks thick and cozy. I hear them breathe and chew. I like how they move as a group if anything startles them. It looks nice to be part of a sheep herd. They graze together and go everywhere together too.
I look up toward the barn. Cats sit outside the barn door. I don’t see the old woman anywhere. Just as well. Some people say she’s a witch. She doesn’t mix much with people in the village. I’ve seen her take the ferry to the mainland with a sheep sometimes, or a pile of knitted goods taller than her when she sits next to it.
I don’t know why she wouldn’t just give it to the storekeeper for him to sell. Nobody understands her.