It took me nearly three months to find it.
My greatest desire.
The trip there was… difficult.
I ended up selling all I had to travel to the most remote region of the globe (and no, I will not tell you where).
Locals helped me get farther, and when, their expertise ran out, indigenous tribes helped me get farther still.
I climbed mountains. I crossed valleys and swamps and violent marshes. I hacked through countless miles of land that seemed determined to kill me.
When the oldest, wisest tracker, the native I had hired to help me, finally admitted we were beyond even his knowledge we pushed on together, relying on ancient legends to guide our way.
And then, we were there.
A clearing, deep in the heart of the most sheltered, most impenetrable forest known to man. Plants and flowers never before seen by human eyes flourished in a riot of color. Distant animal cries wholly alien to my ears echoed through the trees. A brook could be heard, a tiny tributary of the greater man-killing tyrant of a river we had forded earlier.
And there it was that I found what I had been looking for lo these many months.
I laid down in the soft grass and rested my head on a tree root covered in moss, and I pulled out my phone.
Not even a hint of a signal.
No texts. No email. No messages. No voicemail. No one asking me for anything. Utter, total, peaceful privacy, thousands of miles away from anyone I knew, hundreds of miles away from any other living human.
I breathed in my first breath of sweet, isolated air for what seemed like decades, and I totally, completely relaxed. Muscle by muscle, clenched and released until I sprawled across the ground as boneless as a cat with every intention of staying right there in delightful silence till I died. It was worth every hardship.
It was glorious.
“This is, yep?” my friend asked.
“It is,” I agreed happily. Birds circled high overhead and there was absolutely nothing better to do than watch them do it. Possibly forever.
And at his tone my world burned and curled up into fiery ash. My muscles began tightening again, starting from the base of the neck and burning outward. No matter the language, I knew that apologetic tone.
He had produced a satellite phone I didn’t know he had from his pouch and was holding it out.
I could tell, even from a distance, that it was connected to the satellite but wasn’t getting an Internet signal. On his face was the same hopeful expression that haunted my dreams.
He was a good man, and he really didn’t deserve what I did to him. Or his phone.