An Unlikely Hero – Sally’s story

Our heroine for this tale, Sally James is a 25-year-old investment banker from Edinburgh, currently standing on the banks of Loch Ness. She was there alone. Sally’s job took up most of her time so she didn’t really have many friends. Being bestowed with only average beauty and not much of a personality, Sally hadn’t been very lucky with men. At the age of 22, she finally met someone, a man named Roger, 23 back then, who was an assistant manager at the Tesco store near Sally’s place in New Town. They met when Sally needed some help getting a cereal box off the top shelf at the shop. Roger found Sally easy-going and sort of pathetic in a wounded way. He’d always thought of himself as a bit of a hero and he felt the need to save Sally. Sally couldn’t believe that an above average-looking man like Roger could ever want her, so she was extremely thrilled when he asked her out.

A year of dating followed at the end of which Roger proposed to Sally. He took her grocery shopping one evening to his store and when they approached the cereal isle, as expected Sally asked him for help with her favourite cereal off the top shelf. Instead of bringing down the cereal box, he brought down a jewellery box with the most beautiful diamond ring that Sally had ever seen. Still not believing her luck, she accepted his offer without any thought or effort. Three months later they were married at a beautiful ceremony attended by all their family and friends. The first few months of marriage seemed almost fairy tale-like, everything was perfect. Then, as you dear reader would expect, Sally and Roger began to fight about little things. He didn’t help out around the house and she was always too tired to go out in the evenings. They began to slowly drift apart. Neither of them wanted to be thought of as quitters so they both continued to live with things the way they were and neither sincerely attempted to work through their problems. They were both frustrated with each other and so, with the world around them. Three days ago, Sally got back from a tiring day at work to find Roger kissing another woman on their couch in the living room.

Without saying a word, she walked to the bedroom, took out a small bag and left the house. The bag contained clothes, money, medicines and other necessities to survive for a few days. Sally booked herself a room at The Caledonian Hotel in Old Town. She threw her cell phone away so that no one could reach her. She didn’t cry. She calmly undressed, took one of her sleeping pills, lay down on the warm bed and waited for sleep to arrive. The next morning, Sally called her office in a very steady voice and told them that a personal emergency had arisen and she would be taking indefinite leave. She checked out of the hotel and took the 1.15pm bus to Fort Augustus. Seven hours later, she got off the bus and went to Morag’s Lodge. She checked herself into a single room and headed to the diner. Once there, she silently ate a cheeseburger with a pint of Caledonian. Then she walked back to her room, almost zombie-like in her manner, and sat on her bed. As she’d done the previous night, she opened her medicine box, took one of her sleeping pills, lay down and waited for sleep to arrive. The next morning, Sally awoke at 7am, brushed, washed, took her bag and went down for breakfast. Avoiding the cereal, she opted for some coffee and toast and took a seat at an unoccupied table. Ten minutes later, an attractive young man, around her age, came and sat down opposite her. He gave her a tiny nod and began digging into his cereal. He read the newspaper as he continued shovelling cereal into his mouth. He didn’t look at Sally again. Another five minutes passed and Sally was done with her breakfast. She put her tray back in place and went over to the reception where she settled her dues and checked out of Morag’s Lodge. On walking out, she was surprised to find the sun shining down upon her. It was an unusually bright day in the highlands. She unfolded a map she’d taken from the lodge and began walking down a street which would lead her to the banks of the loch.

We’re now back to where we’d found our heroine at the beginning of the tale. She stood silently surveying the calm water of the loch. To her east, in the distance, she could see the small town she’d left behind. She’d walked quite some distance so there was nothing and no one around where she stood. The afternoon sun burned brightly in the sky trying to catch her attention but Sally only had eyes for the loch. She’d dreamed about visiting the lake since she was a child. Her parent’s had never taken her dream seriously and had preferred to take her on vacations to warmer parts of England during the summer. When she went away to university in Bath, her holidays were spent picking up extra credit classes or visiting her parents in Edinburgh. After she’d started working, she’d barely had any holidays to see her parents, let alone see Loch Ness. But she was finally here, by the banks of the legendary water of the north. It was as serene and beautiful as she’d imagined it to be. She looked down a few feet ahead of her. The water seemed pretty deep. They said the loch was even deeper than the North Sea at some points. She took a deep breath and turned around. Sally had never learned to swim, it was dangerous for her to be standing so close to the edge of the bank. Leaving her bag behind, she started walking away from the loch with a determined look on her face. After walking a few feet, she suddenly turned back and ran forwards, she ran to edge and didn’t stop running. She fell feet first into the loch. The water was almost freezing, it shocked her body into reflexively taking up the foetal position. Exhaling the last bit of air left in her breadth, Sally allowed the water to fill in her lungs. She choked, her arms and legs began flailing around. Her eyes closed as she fainted. Her heart, never being very strong, almost immediately stopped beating. Her body began drifting downwards, towards the darkness, the seeming nothingness.
So there it is, the end of our tale. Our heroine, you might think, was not much of a hero. But remember dear reader, it is not always that simple. You may think her weak for the way she walked away from it all and ended her life, but I think her strong for making at least one of her dreams, that of visiting Loch Ness, come true. How many of us can say we’ve made our dreams come true? Sometimes, a slightly different perspective can make the dullest man/woman the bravest and unlikeliest hero.

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