Business Elsewhere

A part of you is fascinated by the spectacle of the stage, with the evening light slicing across the boards in ribbons of gold, but you cannot allow yourself to tarry. You have been summoned; your road lies ahead. You nudge your horse’s flanks with your heels and try to ride past the stage without interrupting the performance.

When you’re almost clear of the stage, though, the dark-clad princeling in the center raises a hand to you. “Aha! A pair of new players!” he calls.

“I believe you’ve mistaken us for someone else,” you say brusquely. “We’re traveling to answer an urgent summons.”

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,” your companion supplies, as though saying them both together will prevent you from having to clarify which is which.

“Of course,” the player answers. He does not seem particularly surprised. “We’ll see each other again in Elsinore, no doubt.”

You remember the name Elsinore with a sharpness that’s nearly painful. You grasp at the fragment of memory, straining to bring it into the clear light of recollection.

If memories were objects, perhaps they could be taken out and examined at leisure. If memories were places, they could be explored, canvassed, and mapped so that they might later be traversed safely. It would be a fine thing to write across a memory, Here there be dragons and to know one need never look further.

You spur your horse onward into the thinning trees, leaving the players behind you. Ahead of you lies a duty that you do not understand, and behind you, a history you do not remember.

Continue to Elsinore.