I stood for a moment, in front of the raging coldness of the river, all of nature frozen and still around me.
I could go back, I thought. Slip into my warm bed, pretend nothing had changed. The cows would still be there in the morning.
Jerek's parents would say nothing to me; they had said nothing to Jerek for a long time. I could go for a long time with no one the wiser. Perhaps my whole life.
But I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to assume someone else's life, take it over as though it were still my own. And I somehow hated the idea of townsfolk looking at me and seeing the same old farm boy.
No, I decided; I would press on.
And a good thing too, as I realized I was stuck on the opposite end of the stream from my footprints leading home. Any return journey would require miles of trudging upstream until I found a safe place to cross.
That settled it; there was no going back. Not now, not ever.