The sky was clear as the Sun began to make an impression on the highest peaks of the Silver Mountains. The stars had all but bid farewell as the approaching dawn called out to the morning birds. They called back in song, relaying the pleasant wake up call to the other creatures in the nearby wood. Lucy was already awake, hugging a hot mug of tea against the lingering chill of an early spring night. The Sun would soon stretch down the mountains and bring the comfort of warmth and light, and Lucy loved nothing more than to feel it kiss her face and fill her with energy for the new day.
Every day had felt like a new day for Lucy now. She had escaped her previous life, retreating to the isolation of her father’s old cottage. He had told her so many times that she ought to take a break from her lifestyle; that the cottage might not have the flair of her inner city apartment but it would help her clear her wonderful mind. He was right about the flair: the electricity was temperamental, the only phone was a landline that had a constant buzz and the nearest town was a 30 minute drive along an unpaved road.
But in the aftermath of her break down she had known no other option. She couldn’t call her father to hear his words of wisdom; he had passed away 18 months ago. He was so capable of calming her when she became overwhelmed. All those long nights slaving over the machine and pouring her every hope and desire and sanity into it, her father had always been her rock. She could always rely on his advice so now she finally took the one piece she could remember.
Lucy could feel her father’s presence. Her scientific mind thought it was nonsense to believe in spirits and reasoned that she must be reacting to familiar smells and nostalgic photos, but she preferred to give in for a moment to a blind yet comforting faith. The month that she had spent at the cottage felt like a day and a year at the same time. A day because it had flown by like the first real conversation with a true love; a year because that love was forever
Lucy passed her days enjoying the nature that surrounded her. She took long walks and explored the woods with the wonder of a child. She also occupied her mind with chores and projects repairing and cleaning the cottage where it had been run down, and, without the temptation of television, she found time to read and write and simply relax. She would travel to the neighbouring village once a week to collect supplies, making friends with a few locals who didn’t recognise her, sharing a joke and taking her leave. She could easily have seen herself living out her days in obscurity here; never having to face the burning glare of a global audience. But on her most recent trip to the village this vision was challenged.
As she had left the corner store she absently gazed down at the newspaper stand. It normally would not interest her considering the peace she had felt in being free of worldly issues but this particular headline stopped her dead.
“WALTER WALLACE COMING TO NEWPORT HAVEN”
A voice told her to ignore it, but she couldn’t. She picked it up and began to read.
“Fancy that, eh?” Harold from behind the counter had piped up after noticing Lucy’s interest. “The Walter Wallace coming to visit just right next door at the Haven.” Lucy saw a photo of Walter Wallace - the man she had exposed to the public without ever meeting him or asking permission - waving to a large audience who were screaming and reaching for him in response.
“Why is he coming to Newport Haven?”
“You don’t know? You must be living out in the middle of a forest. They got him touring the country like some kind of modern day Jesus Christ, if the Lord would bid me pardon for saying so.”
Lucy looked back at the photo and saw the slimy grin on the face of one of the men shadowing Walter – Brian Smithwaite, she recognised with a shiver of disgust. “Something tells me Walter’s disciples are a little less admirable than Jesus’s.”
“What’s that?” Harold asked, puzzled.
“When is he appearing?”
“Next week, I think. Round about this time. You’d have to catch the train through the mountains, or drive round the long way if you got a few more hours to spare.”
Lucy had driven home in a whirlwind of thoughts. Her mind, which had seemed so vast and light, now grew clouded with worry. The familiar pit in stomach tightened up like a gag reflex. She felt thrust back into a world of chaos and consequence where she was bound by her conscience in a society that sought only to feed off of it.
She couldn’t sleep much that night, her head debating the whether or not she ought to attend the Walter Wallace Show. She had to see what the aftermath of her dream had become. It looked destined for disaster from the moment Channel 8 took control and she had fled in fear and shame. Surely she had no option but to ensure that at least Walter, her happiest man in the world, was surviving. But only 24 hours earlier she was free of this burden for good. She had abandoned that life. Why let a newspaper article, which she could have easily passed by, reel her back in?
But she knew from the moment she saw the headline and her insides went into freefall that she was going. Even if it all came down to her most selfish reasoning – that she simply couldn’t maintain her pristine peace without knowing for sure that Walter was OK – she was going to catch that train. And so, as the Sun finally reached her face and took over from the half empty mug of tea, Lucy enjoyed what would be her last morning at her father’s cottage, tucked away behind the mountains, east from Newport Haven. And as the speeding train came to an abrupt halt, the last thing she remembered before being tossed into the front end of the carriage was a crystal clear vision of the early spring sunrise.
Notes to the Text