It was the sort of place where people were hesitant to keep their heads up, preferring to avert their eyes, as fearful of the obstacles at their feet as the cold stares of their fellow man. She would take a straight path into town, her steps quick and steady, searching for the things that would keep her alive. Something to trade perhaps, for the small offerings her farm brought about; a piece of cloth to block out the biting, evening air, some simple tools to fix what was broken at home. She was so vulnerable wandering alone, but what choice did she have. She must survive. Her only solace was in the pieces of paper that the poor merchants would wrap around the scraps they sold her. She would carry them close to her body, held gingerly in her fingertips so as not to be stained by their contents.
Upon arriving home, she would unwrap the twine and remove the cheese or bread or bit of dried fish, and tuck them into the jars that had managed to stay in tact through so many ancestral hands. She would wipe the papers clean, and string them up beside her threadbare clothing that never seemed to dry. The glass of her one window was wiped clean daily, and through so many years, subtle transformations had thinned the upper pane and the bottom was ever so gently expanding to seal the chill out of the lower portion. In another fifty years, it would be weatherproof. By early afternoon, but everyday a little earlier, a ray of light would find its way through her window, and then she'd watch in wonder as before her eyes, the wrinkles of the papers were ironed out, the pulp and fibers would vibrate with warmth and strengthen, transforming into a fine piece of parchment for her words to fall upon. For one half hour per day, she'd sit at her worn wooden table, watching the sunlight turn her papers golden, enchanted.
There was much work to be done, and losing one's way in such silly pleasures would only lead to trouble. As the sun ebbed further along into the sky, she would take down her pages, their warmth fleeing fast, and tuck them under the large bible that her father had read to them in their youth. The passages and stories were etched into her mind; tales of lost souls, seekers, traitors, heroes, floating around her in her father's baritone. His warnings about straying from the path of righteousness had given her a fear of man, not of God, for such anger and punishment could not be inflicted by the same entity that created the beauty around her. For all the struggle of her life, there was still a thread of good that only seemed to hint at another world beyond this.
When the Summer came about, and the days grew longer, she would find the time to take her collection of pages to a place above the small village. There the terrain was not fit for farming, and was too open and exposed for hunting or game to venture there during the day. She would make her way on sturdy legs, feeling the pebbles pushing through the soles of her shoes, little birds in shrubs flitting nervously at her presence. She'd roll her foot slowly one past the other, trying to leave no trace of herself. The sagebrush and Indian ricegrass would release their seedlings into her hem, and she would carry them with her as far as she could.
The hill contained the remnants of one tree, one that she remembered gazing upon from time to time as a child, when she and her family would make their way into town. It gained strength from being so alone on the hill, nothing to compete with it for nutrients, but it was also the tallest point when a lightning storm came through. Its magnificent form was now splintered down the middle, its upper branches cascading down and creating a sort of shelter that she would now nestle under. It was the only thing that separated her from the expansive, unfettered heavens that spread out around her. In the twists of the gnarled roots, she found the clean smooth stones that she used to hold down her pages from blowing away, and set them down for safekeeping. She walked just above the level of the tree, and then a little higher, until she was for a few moments, the highest point of that which her eyes could behold. No doubt, taller mountains existed elsewhere, but here she was. The storm, if it came, would now strike her first. But it was a clear, cloudless sky. The air was warm and the walk had inspired great adventures in her mind, and she was eager to write herself into another world.