The Map

I’d like to thank a friend of mine for inspiring this story, though I imagine the circumstances around her map were much more mundane.

Paul kicked off his shoes as he closed the door to his dorm room, relishing in the respite from the heat of his shoes after a long day of walking around the campus. He turned around, facing the window, where he thought he caught a glimpse of some dark shape ducking out of sight.

Curious, he walked over to the window, which had been opened somehow. However, looking down the three stories to the ground, he saw nothing out of the ordinary. He shrugged, figuring it must have been his imagination.

He decided to leave the window open to keep his room cool, and walked past the couch, back to the door, where he collected his backpack and brought it over to the desk supporting his bed. In this little alcove, he brought out his textbooks, notebooks, and handouts from his professors.

He was studying to become a doctor. Well, there was a specific kind of doctor he wanted to be, but Paul rarely brought that up in conversation, save around other people who also wanted to be doctors. For the majority of people who didn’t understand all the chemical names and technical terms for anatomical processes he might occasionally mention in casual conversation, telling them he would be a doctor generally placated them. And he’d been telling people he wanted to be a doctor for years – his entire high school schedule had been built around that goal as well.

An hour or two later, after reading through a chemistry and an anatomy textbook, Paul leaned back in his chair, sighing. It was time for a break. He walked over to the couch, which was situated opposite a rather large television screen. As he sat down, however, his attention was taken from the black screen and to the crunch emanating from under the cushion.

Standing up quickly, he plunged his hand beneath the cushion and brought forth a piece of paper. It was old and discolored, and crinkled as Paul folded it open.

It was a map. Paul stared at it in fascination, his eyes darting all over the inked names and landmarks. In the upper left corner, there was his dorm, and part of the campus drawn in simple, yet accurate, detail. However, after the campus, there were a number of landmarks Paul didn’t recognize, along with a rather large patch of writing, which he perceived to be instructions on reaching said unrecognizable landmarks. Then, nearer to the center of the map, Paul became aware that it displayed some kind of fantasy realm, full of dragons and wizards, and what appeared to be a villainous lair in the lower right corner. His heart leapt in his chest at the prospect of adventure.

But then he frowned. What if this was some kind of joke map? He turned the map over to the back, and then smiled wryly.

It was addressed to his roommate. Go figure whoever wrote this would want someone still trying to find themselves to go on such an adventure.

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