Lily's Journey


Out of the darkness there came a wavering pinpoint of light.  It was difficult to tell in the coal-black, disorientating pitch, but it appeared to be wavering in my direction.

‘Just be careful it isn’t a Dartmoor pixie,’ the railway guard had winked at me as he got back on the train.  At least, I think he had winked.  I couldn’t really see in the yellow glimmer from the storm-lamp that swung from his raised arm, but his voice had portrayed some amusement.  He had been concerned at leaving me alone on the isolated station.  Well, I say station, but it only bore the name of a halt and from what I could make out, it was nothing more than a raised platform with a small hut at either end.  I told the guard someone was meeting me and watched as he retrieved the oil-wells from the two lampposts, plunging the halt into almost total darkness.

‘Last train has to do this, see,’ he explained, and when there was no sign of another living soul, he made the train wait, which amazed me.  You wouldn’t find that in London!  But we were miles from London.  Miles from anywhere, or so it seemed.

And then it appeared that someone really was coming and the guard hopped back on board.  There was the usual squeak and lurch and hissing of steam, and the two carriages of the little moorland train moved off into the night.

I watched it go, the red light at the rear fading into the blackness.  It was as if my last contact with civilisation was being born away for ever, leaving me behind, and I suddenly felt very alone.  I shivered as the cold November wind licked about me, and I began to tremble.  I had seen where I was going on a map, but just then I didn’t have a clue where I was.  Just somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  And so I turned my attention back to the single white light in the distance.  It was growing brighter.  Drawing nearer.  The train guard obviously hadn’t really thought it was a pixie, but I could have believed it was.  I still couldn’t see who – or what – was carrying the light.

And so I waited.  It had been a long day.  I was tired and just wanted the journey to be over so that I could go to sleep.  But now my heart was racing.

At last I could just make out the silhouette of a man, a darker shadow in the obscurity that surrounded it.  I stood perfectly still.  Like a statue.

Could it be that the figure coming towards me, this total and utter stranger who I had never known, really was my father?

Down Tor

Down Tor Stone Row where Lily encounters Daniel Pencarrow