Friday, October 1, 2010
It is more than a year since I came to America in search of Jozéf Nikitich Lazinsky. As I followed Jozéf’s path across this continent, I grew to expect freedom, and to nurture hope – until the day I was betrayed by Scotty Macdonald on the Telegraph Trail.
I suppose that Scotty thought he was protecting me by alerting Constable Wyman to my intentions to reach Siberia. A joke in itself! My destination was never Russia. Where I come from, we fear nothing more than the police, so imagine my dread when Wyman arrested me and took me to Hazelton for trial. I could barely understand the judge. I believe he wanted me to promise to give up my plan to walk north, which I could not do, for I have a greater promise to keep. And so he sentenced me to jail, and sent me far to the south, to the Oakalla Prison Farm near Vancouver.
I will not dwell on the indignities I suffered there, for I look forward, never back. It is enough to say they worked me like a peasant, in the kitchen, in the laundry. The hardest part was being hemmed in and constantly around people, when I had found my own kind of happiness in my solitary life of walking. But being around people meant listening to people, and my English improved over those months to the point that, when they released me in the early winter, I was able to find work in Vancouver waiting tables in a café.
I found a bed in a women’s hostel and saved my earnings, thinking only of the spring, when I could set out north again to Telegraph Creek, where Jozéf seeks his fortune looking for gold. I only hope I am not too late. What if he has become wealthy, and moved on? But every day I renew my vow to find him, no matter what it takes.
One day as I am leaving work, a man stops me. “Lillian Alling?” he says. I am taken aback, for no one knows me here. Then I recognize him. Scotty Macdonald! The man who sent me to prison. I stride away, but he stops me. If you knew what I went through to find you, he says. He never intended for me to wind up in prison. All he wanted was to keep me safe. I see in his handsome face that he is sincere. I see more than that. I see that he is in love -- with me. With Lillian Alling! And in that moment I see something else – that I love him, too.
The next weeks are like heaven. We take long walks in Stanley Park, alongside the ocean. We do not care whether it rains, or if the sun shines. We are happy, together. I never knew I could feel such happiness. Such belonging. I find myself daydreaming about a life together, but I stop myself. I know it can not be.
My simple life has become so complicated. I must tell Scotty the truth of the matter. I owe him that much. Then I must leave him, for the final leg of my journey is one I must take alone. I hope Scotty will understand. I hope he can forgive me.
Labels: Travel blog