Lucy Blues was happy.
She smiled. She was back home in the only place where it seemed like she could feel this way. She walked through the woods that surrounded her father’s cabin and enjoyed the sharp chill of the winter morning’s breeze as it filled her nostrils. She was walking her favourite trail and had been doing so each morning since she and Walter had arrived. It had always been her plan to develop a daily ritual; it always sounded like one of those things she would read in the self help books that were scattered among her bookshelf in her city apartment. Four days in and she could definitely see the benefit.
She had left Walter to sleep in this morning. He had been eager to explore the cabin and its surrounds but Lucy could tell he was tired from the last few months. The exhaustion of the tour and the weight of billions of people’s , it was all taking its toll on the world’s happiest man. But to see Walter at the cabin had helped Lucy reconcile with her decision to expose him in the first place. Throughout the tour he would smile but it always seemed for the benefit of others, but here he would smile differently. He genuinely looked happy. And when she saw his face resting on a pillow this morning, drooling lightly, he genuinely looked at peace.
Rounding the small creek and its swampy banks Lucy remembered how she would hold her father’s hand as they got to this part so that she wouldn’t slip. She had the same memory every morning and was still finding it hard not to get choked up. Perhaps that was what made this trail so inspiring. It had heart and history. She felt her own heartbeat stir to a new rhythm.
Walter was so different to other men she had been with. She so often chased men of status without knowing why it was so appealing. Her fling with Manny was a mistake from the beginning but she was drawn to his confidence. Beneath that though she found his flaws and it was sad. She found it almost disgusting the way a man can project strength and then search for a woman to absorb his weakness. But was she any different? She was just another man, unloading her burden onto the shoulders of Walter.
The only lover she had ever felt differently for was Sammy, but she had built up a mental block to the memories of him.
On the trail Lucy had come to the hard part, where the trail steepened significantly. “This is where character is built,” she said aloud, imitating the grave tone her father would always use when they walked this trail together. The hill looked easy at a glance but halfway up it usually began to take its toll. More often than not her father would carry her on his shoulders. “God gave you legs for a reason, Lucy,” she said sternly, her breath starting to shorten. “But the view is so much better up here!” She stared down just half a metre ahead of her, counting each step.
Lucy could feel the muscles in her legs start to strain but she no longer had the despair that she felt the first day or two. She had done this before and she would do it again. It could only get easier from here. Plus she had her father to carry her. She looked up and smiled through her grimace as the crest of the hill approached. She felt like she was onto something here; a self help book was almost writing itself with each step she took. Maybe she would be the next Walter Wallace! She laughed aloud as she took the final few steps and looked out over the small clearing towards the cabin.
She took a few deep breaths and made her way towards the house. She loved the way it looked with the morning Sun glimmering off the wooden boards. She could tell that today was going to be a good day – a great day even. She knelt down at the front door and untied the laces to her shoes, neatly resting them against the wall. She entered the house and was met by a strange sound.
From the downstairs living room she heard multiple voices talking loudly over one another. They sounded familiar and they made her uneasy.
“I just think it is another mark against this whole happiness movement.”
“I don’t see how these people could let themselves preach to us when they know it is all – and excuse me for saying this – B.S!”
Lucy entered the living room and saw Walter on the couch with a tenseness across his face. “Walter,” she began cautiously, “why are you watching TV? You never watch TV.”
“I don’t know,” Walter said without looking at her, “I just had a weird impulse and I turned it on to this.”
Lucy looked at the panel of frighteningly manufactured women. Their hair and makeup looked as though it should come with toxic warnings. “You don’t want to watch this, Walter,” she said, trying to induce levity into her increasingly uneasy tone.
Walter didn’t respond; he just kept watching with the same stroke of concern gripping his facial features. Lucy looked at the TV and finally let herself hear the context of discussion. Along the bottom of the screen was the headline – WALTER WALLACE LOVE TRIANGLE - the scrolling news feed below it going into more details
...worth, father of Channel 8 reporter, Manny Holdsworth drops bombshell about his son’s affair with Ms Lucy Blues...
Lucy’s heart seized up. The blood flooded from her face and she could feel a horrifying prickling sensation all over.
“I think this goes to show we shouldn’t entrust our lives to the people like Ms Blues.”
“She promotes happiness by example but look at her. She is a home wrecker, plain and simple.”
“Well what about the fact that she and Walter Wallace were last seen exiting a hotel together.”
“At least this man doesn’t have a family.”
“Not that we know of anyway. How much do we really know about these people?”
“I think enough al-”
Lucy switched off the TV set. “Walter...”
“Is it true?” Lucy couldn’t reply. Walter stood up and looked at Lucy with an expression she had never seen before. “Why are we here? What do you even want from me?”
“Walter, it was a mistake. It didn’t mean anything.”
“He had a family, Lucy. A wife and two little daughters. It meant something to somebody. You spent how long, how many years trying to decipher happiness? How about you start by not spreading so much fucking sadness. You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”
Lucy could feel her throat tightening; her eyes one blink away from tears.
“Where does this end? Where does it go? People are out looking for me because I can help them and I am here hiding like a coward. I’m leaving, Lucy. I didn’t choose this but now I have a responsibility.”
“Walter you can’t go! You don’t know what they are going to do!”
“What who are going to do?” Walter snapped back, “Dr Tank? One moment you are rescuing me from him and then the next you get a call from him on your mobile? Are you fucking him, too?!”
Lucy could barely comprehend how Walter knew. She broke down in heavy sobs. She felt useless and horrible. She didn’t mean to be evil but all she did was hurt people. She wanted to die right there and be forgotten forever.
“I’m turning myself in, Lucy and don’t try and stop me. Maybe Sammy will give me some answers.”