DRAGON_GIRL17

Dragon_Girl17

By Martin Worster

 

Monday May 22nd

17.58 Monken Wood

 

The track into the woods sometimes took on the appearance of a car graveyard. The empty, rusting husks of Golfs and Nissans would make it into the copse as their pre-pubescent drivers floored the engine down the narrow tracks. Rusty car parts would find themselves littering the floor as joy riders ripped them out before setting the cars alight. Julie saw an old car battery glint through the snag of brambles as she walked down the bridleway.

 

Bright early summer light flecked through the canopy of oaks and elms creating a prismatic affect on the earthy floor. Julie danced and skipped across the ground, playing that game where you try to avoid stepping on the shadows. It was an update of the game she used to play avoiding the cracks in the pavement but hadn’t quite grown out of. If you landed on them something bad would happen. Playing in the woods was more difficult. She would only get a C in A Level Geography. Mum would find the Silk Cut Extra Milds hidden under her bedside cabinet. She would never meet any boys. Other worse things might happen if she could imagine them. She carried on running, not scared but almost excited as if she could feel thousands of eyes looking at here from behind bushes and trees propelling her forward.

 

‘Please don’t go into the woods,’ her mother often warned Julie, with foreboding as if she was narrating a dark fairy tale.

‘Remember that girl who was dragged screaming into Monken Woods three years ago?’ she continued.

‘Yes mum,’ Julie replied.

 

Julie remembered the incident well. It had become local folklore. Someone had seen the young girl being dragged by her hand screaming into the forest and reported it to the police. Within half an hour the sound of helicopters could be heard oscillating through the clear summer air which smelt of freshly mowed grass. Other police searched on foot. It turned out the man and girl had been father and daughter and everything was legitimate and hence a false alarm. Julie still found it strange the girl had been screaming, but concluded the witness had probably exaggerated the situation. Somehow the woods had amplified the incident out of proportion. Still, for Julie’s mother it acted as a precautionary tale of what could have happened. It was three summers since this warning was first issued and now she was nearly a woman Julie still paid no heed to her mother’s advice. The practical matter was the short cut through the woods cut fifteen minutes of the journey to the park where Julie went most nights to meet her friends to gossip and smoke. This evening she was meeting her best friend Sophie.

 

Julie crossed the railway bridge down to the narrower section of the path with steep sides where kids swung on ropes from side to side.  The rope hung motionless with a worn and gnarled thick piece of yew tied to the bottom used as a seat. Julie stopped and looked around, remembering the scene of many Sunday walks with her dad and their black Labrador Bob. She remembered how her dad had swung on the swing and being fit and able had made a big arc through the air, whooshing to the other side with Bob barking excitedly underneath. Julie had always imagined her dad as invincible until she had found him recently late one night in the sitting room sobbing uncontrollably with a red face after an argument with mum. It was as if he was a different person, someone other than dad. Julie did not know what to say to him or how to console him. Julie heard more arguments with words she understood but often overall meanings would fail her. Dad used to walk with Julie most Sundays after the roast dinner whilst mum washed up. The route would continue for them up to Jacks Lake where Bob used to bark more and irritate the men fishing by swimming and scaring the carp and pike away.

 

The sound of an Intercity 125 rumbled and the horn sounded before the train entered the tunnel and then the ground shook. Walking ahead to the small meadow which opened out to where the park was Julie noticed a pornographic magazine with curled corners and faded pages lying in the grass beside the tarmac path. Ladies with garish hair styles and red lips stared out at her from the pages. It was probably stolen from the local newsagent by young boys as part of a rite of passage where they would snigger at the pictures, consumed by feelings they didn’t know what to do with. Julie heard a shrill wolf whistle which carried through the summer air.

 

‘Ello gorgeous,’ Sophie shouted, swinging on a swing. ‘Gis a fag beeatch,’ she continued.

‘Nice to see ya too. I got ciggies if you got da spliff.’ Julie replied.

Yeah, man. One love,’ said Sophie in mock Rasta patois.

‘Peace my sis’ answered Julie.

‘How’s cyber love?’ continued Sophie as she lit a cigarette hastily and the smoke trailed high into the still pre-dusk light.

‘Ok, think we’re gonna meet soon’

‘Hmmm, you’ve never seen him, what if he’s minging?’

 

——-

 

Tuesday May 23rd

19.32 MSN Teen Chat Room

(Server physical location:  Docklands, London)

 

Dragon_Girl17:        yaay!!!! homework ova..u online?

EyeSky                    hi, yes, 10 sec…

EyeSky                    back, hows u? good day?

Dragon_Girl17:        ok. more revising 😦 want propa summer to come. :):)

EyeSky                    me 2. need to save £$£$£…spent way 2 much at wknd. drunk…doifhodco..hcip LOL

Dragon_Girl17:        naughty boy.

EyeSky                    not naughty… just bad 😉

Dragon_Girl17:        do me fava..lil boy.

EyeSky                    BIG BOY. lol XXXXXXXXXXXXx

Dragon_Girl17:        how big den???

EyeSky                    only 18

Dragon_Girl17:        18 going on ten i know how old u r…LOL

EyeSky                    u know wot size u find out.

Dragon_Girl17:        yeee haaaaa…

Dragon_Girl17:        I mean stop!!!!……

Dragon_Girl17:        rooody

EyeSky                    tee hee

Dragon_Girl17:        u so funny…gotta go..

EyeSky                    now?!?!?!

EyeSky                    wait…no rush…

Dragon_Girl17:        whadda rush gotta rush…

Dragon_Girl17:        same time place 2morrow??? xxxxxxxxxxx

 

——–

 

Thursday 25th May

Monken 22.34

 

At night often the arguments went on for hours. Dad would get angry and, unable to express himself verbally, throw things around. One night he had turned over a whole table with the remains of that nights tea on. Julie would try to cover her ears to the bangs, crashes and slamming doors. Scared to stay where she was under her covers, scared to go in see what had happened in case it was bloody. They would revert to name calling, the type of which Julie hadn’t heard since the playground as they regressed to being infants. They acted as if Julie wasn’t there, not caring;

 

‘You bitch, why don’t you just leave me?’ dad screamed.

‘So you can carry on screwing around, go fuck yourself,’ mum spat out.

‘I’ve never loved you, you make me sick.’

‘Wanker, good for nothing, always been a loser, look at how we live. You were never good at anything. LOSER PIECE OF DOG SHIT,’ she spewed.

 

Julie pictured them confronting each other on the brown lino of the kitchen floor. Mum in dressing gown with puffy brown eyes which had lost clarity and hope. Dad with arms raised and his hands on the grey hair of his head. Both lost in mutual wretchedness. Bob would be sitting in his basket head sunk, eyes moving left and right, witnessing as if he was at a slow tennis game, a look of resignation and confusion on his face as their cries polluted the suburban night.

 

23.14

 

Dragon_Girl17:        hi? u there???

EyeSky                    yo, was up???

Dragon_Girl17:        nuttin..bored..down

EyeSky                    bored..of what? down??

Dragon_Girl17:        exams blah bluhhh…

EyeSky                    k, can cheer up free this wknd??

Dragon_Girl17:        maybe..

EyeSky                    sat meet 6 oclock, outside KFC//?

Dragon_Girl17:        a d8?

EyeSky                    might be…don’t be l8..i’ll have a rose between my teeth…XXX

Dragon_Girl17:        XXX big sloppy kiss

 

——

 

Saturday 27th May

Monken Town 17.24

 

Town was non-descript and resembled any other British town with its bland, ubiquitous high street; WH Smiths, Gregg’s the bakers, Woolworth’s, JD Sports and her meeting point, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Julie killed time looking in some of the clothes shops. She caught sight of herself in a full length mirror on the ground floor of Top Shop. She had shot up in height in the last year, her limbs sprouting ahead of herself as if the rest of her body was playing catch up. She was tall, gangly. Underneath an awkward mousey fringe her features were also shaping into those of a striking young woman. Green pistachio eyes and a strong, some would say Roman nose, led to her soft mouth with thin lips.

‘Can I help you?’ the assistant asked.

‘No just looking’ Julie replied

 

She walked out past the security guard feeling guilty and self conscious, as if her bag was stuffed with stolen goods. She turned red and looked straight ahead, feeling the guard’s eyes bore into the back of her head. She always felt like this when walking past security guards. Guilty yet innocent. Similar to the feelings she had in front of normal people; acute self consciousness, slightly awkward and out of place.

 

Next she gazed into the travel agents window, cheap package deals to no frills holiday destinations. Just what she needed, once her exams were over. The promise of Mediterranean sun and fun for an intense week acted as an escape route for her present frustrations and anxieties. She looked at other destinations. Tunisia all inclusive. Cruising in the Baltic. Watersports in the Canary Islands. She couldn’t think. She lit a Silk Cut Extra mild as she turned and walked towards the KFC, a little early, but by now feeling very edgy. She felt like running away from this situation, not wanting to meet someone she had confided in without ever seeing a face. They had agreed he would identify her by her white bag. He would be wearing a Reebok cap.

 

She lit another cigarette, inhaled and stood outside the KFC. The rank stench of artificial chicken wafted out when the doors opened, making Julie feel queasy. She took some deep breaths to try to calm down. Is that him coming? No it was a brown beanie hat. Three minutes passed. She turned around to look into the glass as she pretended to read the menu. She felt safer looking inwards than facing out to the crowded Saturday street. He would still be able to identify her by her white bag which hung by her side.

 

People inside ate greedily, Saturday shopping wetting their appetites. She saw someone coming up behind her via a reflection but didn’t want to turn around in case it was the wrong person. He came closer and she could see he had a cap.

 

He tapped on her shoulder.

‘Dragon_Girl?’

She turned round slowly to meet the mans eyes.

‘Dad?’

 

 

 

ENDS

WORDS 1784

Copyright Martin Worster

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