You may be wondering who I am and how I know so much about the life of Onceuponatime Walton. At this point in the story all I can say is that I was a firsthand witness to the life of this boy, maybe like no one else, even Liberty. I believe it will become clear along the way, but if not, I’ll tell you when we near the end of this particular chapter in his life. I promise.
You might anticipate Onceuponatime was born with special powers, like he could talk to ravens or his arms wouldn’t break or his singing made it snow. Those would be false hopes, for Liberty Walton’s son was as normal as normal. But every once in a while a baby is born who is, as they say, ‘a carrier.’ This child has no unique powers of his own but rather carries the collective power of the people around him, like their dreams or fears or sadness. So in a sense, yes, Onceuponatime was valiantly special, but it took the people around him to make him so. As you will see, he needed them, just like they needed him.
For the first three years of his life, Liberty Walton and Onceuponatime did everything together. If you saw one, you saw the other. Franny Withers, the postmistress, said ‘a goose and her gosling, I tell ya, goose and gosling.’ Folks in Delight would see them out walking mid-morning, which they had a habit of doing, and ask Liberty how things were going and she’d say ‘oh, oh these are halcyon days.’ Not everyone knew what halcyon meant, in fact practically no one did, but they loved to hear Liberty say it. If you sorta had a hunch, you were right; yes, Liberty was a carrier too.
The halcyon days of Onceuponatime’s life did not end when he celebrated his fourth birthday that unseasonably warm Christmas, but they did change. Liberty had decided to take a class at the nearby community college, a class that would meet all day on Fridays for the duration of the spring semester. The question on the heels of this decision, one that Liberty’s mother and the entire town of Delight wondered was, ‘but what will you do with Onceuponatime?’ Come to find out, Liberty and her father had been in, as they say, ‘cahoots’, they were already one step ahead.
Every Friday, as had been his habit for years, Rev. Davis Walton spent the morning with the old folks of the Foster Retirement Center. They’d gather in the common room and he’d always share a story, just almost a homily but not quite a sermon. After that, the remainder of the time was filled with singing, everything from ‘Amazing Grace’ to ‘Stardust.’ The folks there were of a variety, not so much a box of chocolates as a can of mixed nuts. Some, like Eva Simpson, were still mentally a razor’s edge. Others, like Chet Waller, were always lost somewhere in the past. Make no mistake, Chet knew where he was, its just no one else was quite sure. After his time with these tender souls, Rev. Walton would stop by The Net for their fish basket lunch special, then he’d head to the park to saunter, feed squirrels, skip rocks, think…he called it praying.
The two cahoots had agreed that for at least the time being of Liberty’s class, Onceuponatime would join his grandfather for the Friday usual. Rev. Davis Walton was so excited he thought he might, as they say, ‘pop.’