Shelle woke to a bright morning. She dressed and went down to the dining room for breakfast. She finished quickly, noting that the guests around her seemed surprised at something: her being alone, had she but known it. She went back to her room, brushed her teeth, and fixed her hair. She then filled her backpack with the things she would need and stuffed her wallet and airline tickets in her pockets. She put out a suitcase that had only clothes in it on her bed and put her other suitcase under the bed, suspecting that the maids might go through them. She then put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on her doorknob and locked the door and then pocketed the key. She walked through the lobby, ready to go looking for James’s house, but then she heard some people talking.
“It’s a shame, really, what happened to James Mac’s wife,” a man was saying to the front desk clerk.
“Isn’t it?” the clerk replied.
“I’ve heard he lives around here,” the man went on.
“Oh, yes. Just a bit north from here. His estate is huge—you’d be lucky if you could find his house.” The clerk gestured out towards the way James’s house was. Shelle grinned widely and started off on a four-mile hike “and then some” to James’s place.
It was quite early and she did not stop that much. Occasionally, she stopped to pop in some little shop to talk about Lindy and to discreetly pump information out of the townspeople about where James lived. The locals knew from Shelle’s accent that she was an American—probably a star-struck one, they figured. They all left James and his family alone usually, but it was no secret where he lived, so even though they thought Shelle was just a fan, she also looked like some kid talking about the latest news, which was no problem with them.
After a few stops, Shelle finally found herself on a path that led through a fenced-off area.
“When you come to a fence with a path that goes through under a gate, you’ve reached the Mac farm-estate,” an elderly lady had told Shelle. She took a deep breath and threw her backpack over the small front gate. She then got on the ground and crawled under it. She retrieved her backpack and walked down the path. She stopped when the sun was a little past high point in the sky and sat by a large rock to eat. She pulled out a sandwich and washed it down with water. She then combed her hair and set herself to rights. She packed up her things and continued walking. Presently she came within sight of a house with barns and stables by it.
Horses were picketed out to graze and sheep were walking around. There were flowers of all colours in bloom; a few of them being yellow potted lilies and a few butterflies were in the air. She was still a little ways away from this lovely scene and, thinking out what she was going to say to James, she forgot where she was stepping and slipped in a mud-puddle left by the previous day’s rain. Her left knee buckled under her and though she tried to stop herself, she fell, moaning in agony. Her ankle had twisted in an unnatural direction and the result was a sprained ankle—at least, that’s what Shelle thought as she cried with pain. She worried about what she was going to do—she couldn’t go home; her family wasn’t expecting her for five weeks and she couldn’t afford a doctor. What was she going to do?
“First of all,” she said aloud to herself, “is that you’re going to get out of this stupid puddle!”
Accordingly, she crawled out of the puddle and lay in the grass on the side of the path, gladly letting the sun warm her. She put her backpack under her foot for elevation—that was all she could remember from health class—and prayed. She closed her eyes so the sun would stop blinding her and felt herself drifting into the land of Nod. After all, she had walked a lot that day. Inside a dream, she thought she heard someone; a voice say, “My God,” but that could have just been the dream. She felt herself being lifted—and then she stopped thinking.