Monday, 8 December 2008

SHORT STORY: Uncle Jock and the girl in the barn

I blow a bubble of cloudy O on the window. Follow it with another, and another. Then, with my stubby, half-chewed finger I trail my initials through the mist formed by my mouth. The door slams. Mother enters the car. ‘Indigo,’ she barks, ‘why aren’t you wearing your seat belt?’ she says, casting a nervous glance in the front mirror. I struggle with the strap. Tug, tug. At last, it extends. I press the buckle in and it lodges with a click. Mum gives me a side glance before revving up the car. The engine sputters in the icy cold. Reluctantly, it springs to life. We are on our way to see Aunt Mavis and Uncle Jock.

Their cottage is nestled on a large farm in the Cotswolds. It is a grand dwelling brimming with wealth. Aunt Mavis and Uncle Jock don’t have any children. ‘Too busy making their millions,’ my mother would often TUT. There is a purpose to our visit today, but I can’t remember what it is.

When we arrive, Aunt Mavis and Uncle Jock meet us at the door. Aunt Mavis is looking immaculate, perfectly coiffed like Nicole Kidman in that perfume commercial. Although well presented, Uncle Jock – short and stout – looks awkward standing beside my aunt. Greetings and kisses are exchanged. Mother and Aunt Mavis head off to the kitchen while Uncle Jock mutters something about going for a walk. I decide I will explore the woodland around. ‘Don’t go too far,’ my mother says, disappearing down the hallway.

The trees stare solemnly while I stroll through their doorways. Their bare barks look bleak, barren. With each breath I exhale a conical cloud rises as it hits the freezing atmosphere. Even underfoot, the ground is glazed with ice. Temperatures had dropped to 2 degrees overnight. There is no plan in my mind as to where I am going. I just walk, ambling along a muddy frost-crusted path.

I don’t know when my feet stumble on a derelict barn. Non-descript, it resembles a shack. Even at this distance, I can tell that large chunks of the flat timber are rotten through – dead wood. My size-fives break a twig, surprising a black bird. It swoops off a branch and flies away. I watch until it becomes a black dot against the November mist. Averting my eyes back to level ground, I walk around the rectangular structure. I am quiet. I sense that I am intruding. On what, I do not know. That is, until I hear something – a whining sound. Like the whimpering noise cats make when they are sick, or suffering. I stop. Listen hard. Perhaps, I have imagined it. But it comes again. I lean against the wooden wall, as if wanting some sort of a camouflage. I wonder if I should make my escape. No – my curiosity gets the better of me. Now at the rear end of the barn, I move closer to the wide window, and crouch beneath it. I take a deep breath, trembling slightly: a mixture of cold, excitement, and fear. I count to ten before edging my body upwards. My eyes hover halfway then peer through the dust streaked panes. I blink, widen my eyes, and press my face against the window – flattening my nose. I see nothing; only the outline shadow of a pile of hay and a scattering of disused farming equipment. I stretch myself fully. A wave of disappointment drifts through me. There is no mystery here. In that moment of contemplation, in the stillness that envelops, I hear a strained, soft moan. Following the direction of the breathy whimper, I walk past the window and notice a loose panel – no longer overlapping – revealing a slit-hole. I peep.

Inside, there are two figures. First, I see the fresh, freckled face of a girl. Not much older than me. Thirteen? Fourteen? I cannot see her eyes, but the paleness of her skin tells me she is frightened. Her red curls are sprawled in a tangle on a bed of hay. She lies still; pinned down by a flushed fleshy mass. His back – a blanket of grey wiry hairs – faces me. I recognise the thinning patch on his head. He is still wearing the green pullover he greeted my mother and me with. My chest tightens. I cannot think what to do. Transfixed. I watch the rhythm of his bulge move back and forth. With each thrust a moan escapes; a cry of pleasure and power. 'Get up. Run.' The words ring in my mind - over and over. A sharp pain stings my chest, as I will the girl to move. She doesn’t. Stiff, stoic – she remains as silent as I am.

Catherine Mark

In this... I'm experimenting with the present tense (very much work-in-progress). Let me know what you think.



To Ms. Catherine Mark-Beasant

I have just read two of your posts. I liked the simple language you use. I would like to revisit for reading more from you.

If you like short stories and paintings, then a short visit to my blogs would be a good idea.

Naval Langa

CathM said...

Naval. Thanks for checking out my blog (and, do keep popping in)! At the moment my blog is a bit of a mixed bag... but, I do hope to find time in the new year to organise it better (lol). Anyway, I look forward to perusing your site at length. p.s. just noted 'Disgrace' as one of your favourite books - I read that recently and I totally agree - it's fab, fab, fab!

Linda S. Socha said...

I like the feeling of movement and the pace.
I m new at your blog but I will be back

CathM said...

Hello Linda. Great to have you pop in and have a look at my site. Hope you will visit again! Cheers.