This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 900 words.
Deliberately early that Sunday, I was behind the library when Sophie arrived. I had been thinking about the cinema date with Toni the previous day. That had gone well, with her holding my hand all the way through the rather lame Disney film she had chosen, then a short snogging session in an alleyway near her house before I left her waving goodbye to me from outside her front door. I had the feeling that she would have let me go a bit further if I had tried, but I wasn’t about to rush anything.
Sophie wasn’t dressed appropriately for a walk in the woods. Her skater-girl skirt was worn over some white fishnet tights and she had some fashionable white Converse trainers on her feet. As well as wearing far too much make-up for a girl of her age, her hair was tightly drawn back from her face and plaited at the back. It looked as if she hadn’t settled on her look for the date, so had thrown together three looks instead. A small red shoulder bag completed the outfit, and she was trying to act laid-back and cool.
That wasn’t working either, I could tell by the way she was looking at me. I realised that she did actually fancy me. That put me on the front foot.
She pointed at my duffel bag. “What’s that for?” I told her I had drinks and snacks in there for later. As we walked to the woods, she told me that she had argued with her dad before leaving home. He had said she was dressed up too much for her age, and there had been a lot of screaming and shouting before she slammed the door and walked out. As far as her parents were concerned, she was meeting her friends at the shopping precinct, and going for a burger. “They drive me mad. They want me to be a little girl, Daniel. They won’t let me grow up”.
There it was again. Daniel.
Until we got to one of the entrances to Mendlesham Woods, she walked near me, but not close to me. Although we didn’t see anyone we knew, she was obviously wary of anything getting back to Toni if we were seen to be together. Once in the woods, she sidled over and held my arm. “So how do you like me? Do you think I look nice?” I told her she looked very sexy, and even thought to add the word ‘irresistible’. That played well, and she actually blushed.
This was no casual stroll. I had a place in mind, and an actual tree to show her. A famous oak in the middle of the woods that Uncle Brian had taken me to see when I was much younger. But not so young as to forget that was the first place he ever put his hand down my trousers and told me I was special.
After the long walk to the woods, and another walk to get to the Oak, Sophie was either bored, or feeling neglected. I suspected she wanted me to get all romantic with her, tell her how much I fancied her, and try my luck with a snog, or more than that. As the tree appeared, she sneered. “Is that it? We walked all this way so you could show me a big tree?” I explained that it was a great tree to climb, and you could even get a view of the town from the branches just over halfway up.
Shaking her head, she looked at me as if I was crazy. “You want me to climb this tree with you? If that’s so you can look up my skirt, just say so. I don’t need to climb a tree for that”. With that, she raised the tiny skirt and showed me what was underneath it. I pointed at a large branch that was an easy climb, maybe fifteen feet off the ground. I explained that we could sit up there and not be seen by any other woodland walkers. She wasn’t convinced.
The trump card had to be played, so I suggested she was scared. That did it. “Scared? I’m not scared, I just don’t want to spoil my trainers”. With that, she pulled off the Converse, and raised her right leg. “Give me a boost onto that first branch, and you will see I’m not scared”. To her credit, once on the first branch she scrambled up really well. By the time I was following, she was already sitting on the branch I had pointed out, swinging her legs.
When I got up next to her, I crouched down, reaching into my duffel bag. I removed the old washing line I had found in Uncle Brian’s shed. The slip-knot was already tied. I just had to secure the other end to the branch. With my back to her, I quickly did that. “What are you doing, Daniel?” She sounded fed up, probably waiting for the snogging to start. I told her I was getting a drink for us from my bag. When I turned round, she was gazing at the view over the town, and just reached out a hand to take the expected drink.
The noose part went over her head so fast, she hadn’t even realised it was there.
Until I pushed her off the branch.