Lucy sat alone at home, leafing through a book. A fire crackled softly by her feet, the small orange flames flickering joyfully, dancing in the grate. She sat in her living room, a decent sized room with a large bookshelf on the wall in between two smaller windows. She sat on one of the two available seats, her feet resting on the other. A soft carpet was sprawled over the light coloured wooden floor. The carpet was faded in places, as Lucy had a terrible habit of dragging her feet as she walked. The deep navy of the carpet had been worn down to a light blue in some places, and tufts of loose thread poked out here and there. There were two doors in this room- one to her kitchen, and another to the hallway. Other than the two windows, there was little covering the walls. Cream paint had been spread carefully above the darker skirting board. Lucy only had a single painting in her living room- a small picture done by some distant relative, given to her as a thoughtless gift on one of her previous birthdays.
She sighed, shutting her book with a snap and standing up. She stretched her toes, feeling the carpet beneath them, and put the book down on the small table between the two armchairs. It was pitch black outside. She had spent her entire day sitting around and reading, attempting to escape into a fantasy world, away from all of her preset day troubles. It hadn’t worked.
After a brief glance around, she padded into her kitchen, feeling the coolness of the slate tiles beneath her bare feet. She walked over to a cupboard, picking out a glass before filling it with water from the tap. She stood there, leaning against the counter and sipping her water, as she looked out of the window. Her garden wasn’t very impressive. It was a small patch of glass, enclosed within tall fences. The grass itself looked sick and yellowing, and not very impressive. In one corner she had a rotting swing-seat, which had been left behind by the last inhabitants. Lucy looked away from her garden, focusing her attention inside her house.
She let her mind wander, and found herself starting to think about the strange man from the previous night. She found herself wondering whether he had managed to get back home okay, whether anybody had actually been hurt. She felt a pang of guilt as she thought about that. She didn’t know what she would do if somebody had been hurt because of her inability to act at the right time. With one last sip, she finished her water, and put the glass down beside the sink. She walked back into her living room, kneeling down by the fire and smothering it with the ash already in the grate. The small flames flickered one last time, before dying and letting up a small plume of smoke. It rose up, floating into the chimney to be carried away by the gentle wind. Lucy looked at the dying embers carefully, deciding it was probably safe enough, before she straightened up. She turned around and walked into her hall twisting between the chairs and nearly tripping over a pair of shoes that she had neglected to put back in the box.
Sitting down on the second step of the stairs, she started to put on her warm boots, pulling them on her feet and lacing them up. She needed to leave her house for a bit, she needed to clear her head. She decided taking a walk would be the best idea. A walk somewhere quiet, somewhere peaceful and away from the roads. She thought about this for a moment, resting her head in a hand, and looking up at her front door. After her moment’s thought, she had decided on the park, by the river. Lucy stood up, grabbed a jacket, and walked out of her front door.
A wave of cold wind hit her, and she found herself shivering. She fumbled with her coat, turning it the right way and pushing her arms into the sleeves. She zipped up the front quickly, and stood on the front step of her house for a few moments, as she searched around in her pockets for gloves. Pulling out a few old receipts, she realised she didn’t have gloves in this particular coat. Grumbling a curse, she walked down the steps and started to walk to the park. Getting gloves now would just be hassle.
The walk to the park was fairly short. Lucy lived on the opposite side of the river, and only needed to find a bridge to cross. It was colder than it had been the previous day- the winter months were drawing in closer and closer, and with them they brought harsh winds and frosty mornings. With the sun set, there was nothing stopping the cold growing. That day had been one of clear skies, where a weak sun had done its best to warm up the large town. The clouds had not returned for the evening, and Lucy had a feeling they would be in for a cold night. She hugged herself to try and keep warm as she crossed the bridge, peering over the side into the deep waters. The town had been built at a point where the river was straighter, wider and deeper. Of course, there were still some large meanders, which had been crossed as the town had grown, but for the most part the river ran from north to south.
Her footsteps echoed dully as she walked along the bridge, the sound reflecting off the stone struts of the bridge bellow. The echoes stopped as she stepped onto the flatter stone path that marked her first step into the park. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath, feeling the cold suddenly hit her nose with its freezing fingers. When she exhaled, a small cloud rose up from her mouth, and she smiled. Memories sparked in her mind, as she remembered running around a school playground in the middle of winter, pretending to be dragons with her friends.
She stood there for a moment, remembering the moment fondly, before she started walking again, passing through the iron gates of the park and underneath the two, large trees just behind it. The park was quiet at this time. Winter scared off many of the park’s normal late-goers, as it was getting too cold to stand around and do nothing. It was too dark for anybody to be walking a dog, and there wasn’t the Friday night drunk crowd. That would be tomorrow. Lucy walked for a while, looking up at the clear sky with wonder.
Very rarely could you see the beauty of the night sky in the town, and it was only from the middle of the park that you could see stars. She found herself smiling again, as she looked up at the tiny silver pinpricks, shining bright in their nests of deepest blue. She walked along for a little longer, finding herself a wooden bench, surrounded by trees but with a clear view of the sky. She sat down on it, resting her head on the back, gazing up at the sky. All of her current worries seemed to float away. Thoughts of work, family and death washed away from her, like dirt in water.
Lucy remembered a time when she was younger once again, lying outside on slightly damp grass. She could remember her dad lying beside her, and her older brother as well. They all looked up at the sky, as meteors rushed through the sky, darting across like shooting stars. She could remember the feeling awe the sight had stirred within her. She could remember the smell of the flowers around her, the smell of the bed of daisies she lay on. She shut her eyes, momentarily blocking the current sky as she tried to imagine the sky from that night. Flashes ran through her mind, as she did her best, but try as she might, the sight would not return. Lucy opened her eyes again, stretching out her arms and looking back up at the stars. This sky would have to do, she thought to herself.
It was about ten minutes before thoughts of the present started to cloud her thoughts once more. She felt a pang when she remembered she didn’t have her mother to talk to. Her gaze dropped to the ground, staring at one particular lump of dirt. She took a deep breath, and pushed that memory from her mind, shaking her head a little to help it along. Lucy lifted here gaze, searching for something to take her mind off of this subject. She looked around, finally stopping on a patch of bare ground, beneath a tall oak tree. Frowning, she walked over to it, crouching down beside the strange patch. She put one hand down, shifting a little of the loose dirt. She had heard about this spot. Seven years ago, a man had dug himself up. It had been all over the news, the top story for months. Reports had come in for ages on where this mystery man could have gone, questions asked by many different people. There had been a lot of eye witnesses, all happy to give their own side of the story for even the slightest chance of a second in the spotlight of television. Now that she thought about it, all the news on this mysterious man had suddenly died down. There hadn’t been any conclusion to it- it had just stopped. She bit her cheek, worrying a patch of raw skin with her tongue. That was strange, she thought to herself.
As she looked at this spot, she thought of the man from the previous night. She didn’t know why. That led her thoughts back to what had happened, and she let out a sigh. Lucy stood up again, turning on her heel and began to walk in the opposite direction from home, back toward where she had seen the man. She didn’t notice this- she was just walking. She didn’t realise she was going back. She didn’t realise what a mistake it was.