People of the View

For whom The Book comes first

William Essex

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Bright orange sunrise under a sky of broken dark cloud, blue sky behind.
Pretty much, some mornings. Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash

Every now and then, I open my front door to find two near-identical strangers waiting to speak to me.

Not the same two strangers every time, you understand, but they might as well be. They’re both conservatively dressed, and each is holding a Book, capital B, and a clutch of leaflets.

They want to share with me the teachings in The Book, and to give me a leaflet. They read to me from my leaflet first, citing chapter and verse, and then they offer it to me.

“Look,” I tell them. “Look over there.”

They turn around, and I point to the sky.

I point to the sea.

I point to the headland and the harbour and the yachts on their moorings.

I point to trees and clouds and ferry-boats and the two castles.

I point to the horizon and the sloping fields and the three trees marking the place where my children grew up.

I have ancestors who were born and died in the places where I point.

Sometimes, I point into fresh, cold rain, and sometimes into fog.

There are clouds, and vapour trails, and yesterday a rainbow.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” I ask them. “We’re part of it. We’re alive. That’s the gift. We can celebrate all of that.”

And then I take my leaflet, because they want me to do that, and we all bless each other.

And then they turn their backs on the view, and mark my name off their list, and go to press the bell at the next front door.

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William Essex

Former everything. I still write books, I still write stories. Author of The Book of Fake Futures, The Journey from Heaven, Escape Mutation.