Once upon a time, right in the centre of a town known as Greenvale, there was an orb. No one could be sure how long the orb had been there and most of the people who lived in Greenvale couldn’t really remember a time before it had appeared. There were no records of the orb in the town library, nor was there anyone in the town who thought about these things for too long at all. Except for sixth grader, Lucy Chalmers. She thought about the orb a lot. In fact, as far as she knew, Lucy was the only person in Greenvale who could remember exactly what life was like before the orb had arrived.
One year ago to the day, Lucy had finished school for the afternoon and was riding her bike along the path which lined the South Bakersfield River. She had packed the book she was currently reading and was heading towards the towering pine trees lining the riverbanks around the corner from where she lived. While on her way there, Lucy noticed something strange; no one was walking in the direction she was riding. Everyone she passed was walking in the opposite direction, towards the town centre. She stopped her bike on the path and watched the people for a moment, double-checking that her theory was correct. It was. She peddled quickly towards the town centre, overtaking many of the people she had already passed on the path. Due to the number of people, Lucy had to jump off her bike and walk it across Baker’s Bridge to reach the central part of town. In front of her, a crowd had gathered, attempting to catch a glimpse of something. Rather than take her bike into the crowd, Lucy leant it against a tree and used its frame to boost herself up on to the tree’s branches. From here, Lucy had a much better view which only got better the higher she climbed and this was when Lucy first saw the orb.
Her first reaction was to be impressed by its beauty. The Orb was far larger than she was and it glowed with a warm, yellow light. There were two metal bands running in opposite directions on its spherical surface and there were some marks from wear-and-tear on its otherwise smooth, glasslike surface.
At first, the changes that Lucy noticed in the people of Greenvale were very subtle and it took her a few days for her to conclude that there were any changes at all. She had noticed that people were not exercising as much or working anywhere near as hard in general. Usually, the path around the river was packed with people after work, but not since the arrival of the orb. Stores were closing earlier and people tended to stay home more frequently. This was especially strange as, before the orb, the people of Greenvale were proud of the hard work they put in during the hours of the day. If you had of asked a resident what makes Greenvale, “Greenvale”, they would have responded by saying, “It’s the hard work we put into the ground that makes this place so green!” If they were asked the same question today, Lucy couldn’t be sure how anyone would respond.
Lucy found a way to live alongside the new lives the people of Greenvale were now living. She went to school and accepted the changes that were happening there. There was no longer any homework, you could arrive as late as you wanted to your classroom and excursions occurred on a weekly basis. But, what bothered Lucy the most, wasn’t the fact that no one spoke about the orb, it was that the orb was giving her the opportunity to live a life that many other people could only dream about; Never having to exercise or work, never having to worry about homework or even going to school, and that these all seemed like beautiful ideas in theory, but felt very wrong to live out in practice.
On the first-year anniversary of the orb arriving in Greenvale, Lucy decided to go and inspect it for herself. She sat in the tree where she had first seen the orb, surrounded by people eager to catch a glimpse of its majesty, and observed it for a moment from this safe distance. Eventually, she climbed down, walked up to the orb and placed a hand on its surface.
Everything felt warm and familiar to Lucy when she suddenly heard a whisper.
“Tell me about the life you dream of,” the voice said, “and I will make it so.” Immediately, Lucy realised that the people of Greenvale had been living out their dreams in real life and that she had been a part of those dreams. Lucy’s dream, however, was much different to those that had spoken with the orb before her, because Lucy’s only wish, was for Greenvale to go back to the way it was before the orb had arrived. She closed her eyes and thought about everything she loved about her town, from the homemade ice-cream shop to the feeling of having studied hard and then passing a mathematics test.
Lucy opened her eyes, took her hand away, and, with that, the orb was gone.