The weather shifted. The breezy air that came with the damp of the night’s thunderstorm lifted and gave way to warmth and clearer skies. A smile crept across Peter’s face as a trickle of sunlight fell between the curtains in the tea room. Giles felt a tingle not for the first time today. Nothing felt right but everything seemed to fall into place today. Was life carrying him away again, just to let him drop suddenly as it usually did?
Steadying himself he finally asked, “The spiritual type? You mean like nature-based spiritualism or ghosts and spirits?”
“Does it make a difference to you?”
“No, it’s just…curiosity, I guess.”
“I can see that much, but no. It’s neither of those really. I enjoy nature, but I don’t worship it.” He stopped and Giles got the impression he was being assessed for reactions that would make Peter continue or end the conversation there and then. Finally Peter continued, “Come on, let me show you. Or rather, you show me – you mentioned the botanical gardens earlier. I’d like to go there.”
A few minutes later they were on the outskirts of the oldest part of the city. It used to be the city centre, though it was amazing to think it could have even been a city with such low buildings. Regent See Park was the largest area of the city though the least densely populated by far. The name recalled both a position in a monarchic state and an ecclesiastical term – this area commanded power, or at least it did once. Now, the power was gone, replaced by nothing but the richest, oldest, most acrophobic people of the city, but the pure energy of the area remained as it had through the centuries. It was magical, mystical and regal. The buildings seemed without age, though architecturally they clearly belonged to a time long gone.
“Wonderful!” exclaimed Peter, drawing breath. His voice seemed like a stage whisper as if he too could feel an unworldly force in his being beckoning him to see more.
As if children before an ice-cream van, Giles and Peter remained mesmerised, eyes agape, grinning wildly; any passer-by would have mistaken them for aliens simply by looking at their expressions, but there was no one to notice them. Slowly they edged on.
The two men were kindred souls it seemed. They walked and chatted much as tourists would, pointing here and there, occasionally stopping to marvel at what lay before them. This area was truly a place of beauty in their minds and no living human could have persuaded them otherwise. So they moved on, passing from buildings to river’s edge, back to buildings until, judging by the vast open space before them, they may as well have left the city entirely.
Open countryside – everywhere, as far as their eyes could see were seemingly infinite shades of green. The smaller birds flew from tree to tree, the bigger ones glided high above everything until they required food or rest. On the ground, Giles really needed both now. The walk had been long – satisfying, yet no small feat considering the skyscrapers that had surrounded them were no longer visible, hidden behind hills and trees, with only a grey haze in the atmosphere to give any indication of something beyond the unspoilt leafy wonders of nature. He did as many times before, turning slowly on the spot, taking in the ambience. Could someone feel so engrossed in such charm as to lose all coherent thought and forget their physical presence?
(End of Part III)