DESTINATION: HAPPINESS • by Grace Andreacchi

The distance to be travelled is 1,106 kilometres; that will take you eleven hours and fourteen minutes in your Merc if you don’t ever stop for gas or food or sleep or prayer or anything else. But the right way to do this is to walk, in which case the distance is 1,327 kilometres and it will take you five days and seventeen hours — I’m not sure whether that includes the nights or not, walking is only in beta and the information is not that precise. You must sleep out under the stars. You must not allow anything to deter you. You must believe that you can do this, walk halfway across Europe with only your faith for company. In your knapsack you are permitted to carry with you only the following items: a magic compass, a Bible, a slender volume of poems entitled ‘Der Wanderer’ (already water damaged with seawater, rainwater, salt tears).

To begin your journey go downstairs, open the door to the street, step outside onto the pavement and turn left. Follow the directions given  you by the magic compass until you come to the ancient port city of Rostock. At Rostock you must board a ferry that will take you to Denmark, home of the melancholy Prince. You are now to walk the entire width of this small country. As you walk the highways and byways you are encouraged to sing to keep up your spirits, especially those songs in the small, water-logged volume you have with you. You are to purchase only simple fare, bread and cheese, an onion perhaps. If it is cold you will be freezing, if it hot you will be burnt by the heat of the sun.

Eventually you will arrive at a place called Ebsjerg where you will board a boat that will carry you over the cold dark water. You are to sleep out on the deck, you are to gaze up at the stars as you shiver with only your coat and scarf to protect you from the night wind, you are to say to yourself: Soon happiness will be mine. The boat will take you to a place called Harwich. You’ve still many weary miles to go, but don’t lose heart now, for you are almost there! Take out your magic compass — do you see? There is London, the great city stretched out along the river.

When you get to London you must follow the signs which I have set up for you along the way. Turn right at the sign that says ‘Happiness’. You will find me waiting there. Have no fear of the length of the journey, nor of its difficulty, nor of anything else on earth. You will be able to do this. It is not as far as you think. If you zoom the map all the way out until the whole world appears many times over a pattern in misty blue and grey you will see – we are practically next door, and the little markers put their small green heads together and whisper of our happiness.

Grace Andreacchi is an American-born novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Elysian Sonnets. Her work appears in Horizon Review, The Literateur, Cabinet des Fées and many other fine places. Grace is also managing editor at Andromache Books and writes the literary blog AMAZING GRACE. She lives in London.

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Every Day Fiction