The five kilometre hike felt tougher than it was. Pam slogged through the slightly uphill trail. Her head was still not fully clear of the anger, fear and doubt that she had felt since she had left, run away, from the city.
Driving into the countryside, she had no thought about what she might find. The discovery of the little villages, the trails and the countryside had, at first, saddened her. She felt the loneliness and isolation would be a burden on the residents of the villages.
What she had discovered was vibrant communities, cheerful people that sat in the small pubs, sometimes the only one in the town. There was talk, there were voices, conversation. The journey had been conceived as an escape. It had turned into a voyage of learning and discovery.
She arrived at the top of the hill where the ruins of the castle that had probably been the seat of local power centuries ago lay in the early afternoon sun. The roofs were gone, some of the walls, too. Plant life, only too happy to take over, had done just that. Down below she could see the village. The trail had been barely visible.
Pam stood at the threshold, scanning the room for any sign of life, past or present. There was none. Other than the dust, the cobwebs in the corners, the soot of a thousand fires that had once burned constantly, there was nothing to see.
The walls were bare of any decoration. There was no furniture, no artifacts, no remnant of a past time. There were windows in one wall that looked west and the sun was beginning to come through, creating a thin rectangle of light on the bare, dusty floor.
Pam shrugged her backpack off her shoulders, laid it on the floor and slumped against the wall. She bit another bite off her granola bar and gave herself up to a moment of nothingness, blanking her mind, trying to shake free of the sadness and guilt. She sat there as the rectangle of light grew on the floor at her feet. When it reached her boot, she knew it was time to go. It was downhill, but would still take more than an hour back to the hamlet at the base of the hill.
She heaved the backpack on and turned at the threshold for one final look at the only room in the ruins that was still standing with a roof. The rest of the castle had long ago fallen into itself.
Time, it was said, erased everything. Indeed, the castle had all but been erased. The room, stood defiant, for now. In time, it, too, would be erased.
Maybe, some time in the future, perhaps, someone would come up the hill and make their own discovery of the signed confession that Pam had left behind in the far corner of that bare room.