Two Roads Diverged

At the Irish Writers Centre Workshop on Saturday, the prompt was to use Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” as inspiration…


 I woke up chained to a wall. I stared into an old, old face that was five per cent piercing blue eyes and ninety-five per cent warts.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” said the Witch. “I haven’t had anyone here for ages. The last people dumb enough to come this way were Hansel and Gretel, and I had to attract them with a trail of sweets.”

“I took the road less travelled,” I said.


“It seemed like a better thing to do – be different, refuse to choose the path of conformity, live a life less ordinary.”

“Live a life less long, you mean,” she said. “Did it never occur to do that there might be a reason why this is the road less travelled?”


“It’s probably because the other road leads into the town, where there are some great restaurants, a giant shopping-mall and a concert venue where I believe Beyoncé is currently performing for three nights. This road just leads here to my cottage. You must have passed the village just before the crossroads – did the villagers not point you on the right road?”

“I’m a man,” I said proudly. “We don’t ask for directions.”

Well, what about the signpost at the crossroads? Where the one pointing down the other road says “Services – half a mile”, and the one pointing this way says “Certain Death”?”

“I thought that would be the name of a tiny hamlet,” I said. “Tiny hamlets in woodlands often have names like ‘Merrie Bottom’ or ‘Crofter’s Belch’.”

“Ok then, what about the fact that there’s thunder and lightning over this road, and none over the other?”

“I have an umbrella,” I said.

“That’s the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,” said the Witch. “It’s like saying I drove my car into a wall because I have an air-bag.”

“Well, what happens now?” I asked.

“I’m going to cook you in the oven and then eat you,” she said. “Haven’t you read the fairy-tale?”

As Frost says, I doubted if I should ever come back. But then she went to the kitchen to turn on the oven, and while she was away I ate my way out through the gingerbread wall.

Apparently she hadn’t read the fairy-tale either.


10 thoughts on “Two Roads Diverged

  1. Barbara

    I love that poem…I always take the less travelled roads. I wanted to call our boat ‘the road not taken’ but it gets complicated when you have to radio in places 🙂 I also seem to spend a lot of time in yellow woods. Maybe that’s just cos its autumn. Will update you in the spring!

    1. Tinman Post author

      The “by” is actually in the poem – I’d never realised that either. But you’re right, I think it jars too, so I’m going to take it out.

      It’s so great to have you back, by the way.


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