Sunday, November 9, 2014
First 5 Pages November Workshop - Minsky Rev 1
Name: Connie Minsky
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: THE GIRL IN THE WOODS
I had never seen a dead body, but I suspected the one I was staring at was lifeless.
Sam, my boyfriend, and I, went out with our dogs for a hike through the Presidio, a national park in the middle of our city, San Francisco. We entered the park through an open iron wrought gate. We stood on a cement road about to turn and wander down a small grassy hill with tall trees when I spotted the body.
I tugged at Sam’s jacket and nodded toward its direction. It was to our right, not too far down and slumped against a tree. Her head hung low with long blond hair covering her face. She wore dark clothing, and there was a black backpack next to her.
My body tensed as my heart picked up its pace. It pounded against my chest and my hands became clammy and unsteady. I gripped my dog’s leash a bit tighter. The sight of the girl frightened me, but I was also curious. I couldn’t take my eyes off her distant, limp body. I wondered what happened to her. It was eerie the way the body leaned against the tree with its head dangling forward like her neck couldn’t sustain its weight.
It was Sunday morning, and the July fog was thick, which added to the sinister scene. Wisps of white ghosts lingered about as the foghorn blared in the distance. It was windy and chilly. We stood there staring when I finally broke the silence. “What should we do? Maybe she’s still alive, just unconscious.”
I took about one step toward her direction when Sam grabbed my arm.
“Lexi, I don’t think we should go down there,” he said. “She’s definitely dead.”
Miles, my dog, began barking. I held on tighter to his leash, afraid he might pull me down the slope blanketed with grass, dried leaves and fallen branches. It felt wrong to do nothing but stare. As curious as I was, my fear was slightly stronger.
“Maybe we should go, or I don’t know, call someone,” I announced.
Sam took out his cell. “I’ll call 911. I don’t think we should mess with anything like touching her or her stuff.”
He made the call and then put his arm around me. I snuggled into him seeking comfort.
“What if she’s hurt?” I asked.
“She’s dead, Lexi. She wouldn’t be slumped like that if she were hurt. And she looks stiff. It’s kinda freaking me out. I wonder how long she’s been here,” Sam said.
“What do you think happened to her?” I questioned him.
“Don’t know. Someone must have killed her. It’s definitely bad.” We both gave a shiver as if we were shaking off something undesirable that fell upon us.
Sam was generally laid-back, always calm, but the quivering in his voice said otherwise. Some minutes passed and we became brave. We decided to go down a short distance. Would we see her face if we moved in closer? Could it be possible she was breathing and Sam was wrong? With our dogs we slowly made our way down the hill. Thin branches crackled under our feet while we descended. I panicked as we neared the site and changed my mind. I agreed with Sam, she was gone and getting close to death scared the hell out of me. I wanted us to turn back so we did.
While we waited for the police, Sam lifted the camera that hung from his neck. He took photos of the girl. He always brought his camera wherever we went. I called it his fifth limb. He took good pictures. Photography was more than a hobby for Sam, it was his passion. He snapped away. At one point he zoomed in on her.
“Lexi, look at this!”
He removed the camera from his neck and handed it to me. I still couldn’t see her face, but what I did see made me look away from the camera and stare at him. Blood. Her blond hair had some strands streaked with blood. We could also see drops splattered on her jacket. Dried, caked, dull red blood.
“I shuddered and said, “I don’t like this, let’s just go. The police will find her without us. We don’t have to wait.”
“Okay,” Sam said. “I’m a bit spooked.”
“Wait!” I told him. “But I’m also curious what the police will say.”
We talked and chose to stay. It felt like an eternity, but it wasn’t too long when two police officers, a woman in plain clothes and paramedics arrived. By then we weren’t alone. Several people gathered around us wanting to know what happened. Sam pointed to the direction of the body when one of the officers asked about it. The woman introduced herself as Detective Rosales and asked if any of us made the call.
“I did,” Sam said.
“Would you mind waiting?” she asked. “I would like to ask you some questions.”
“Sure,” Sam replied.
Carefully they balanced themselves as they navigated the grassy hill to the girl. The police and detective put on light colored purple gloves and knelt down next to the body while the paramedics waited with the gurney they wheeled along. They were talking to one another, but we couldn’t hear the words. While all this was taking place an official looking man walked through the gate and joined the crew by the body. They were all quite chatty. They surveyed the area near the girl.
Carrying the girl’s backpack, Detective Rosales made her way back up to us. She was a tall, slender, pretty woman with short dark hair. She was stylish, had a confident walk and when she spoke, her voice was strong and serious. It didn’t match her soft, model-like beauty. I was intimidated, not by her appearance, but by her tough demeanor.
“You didn’t notice anything or anyone? Just walking through and spotted the body?” she asked Sam.
“Yeah, that’s right,” he responded.
“Did you go down there? Touch anything?” she inquired.
“No, we stayed here,” he told her.
“Good. How old are you?”
“We’re both seventeen,” Sam answered.
“Your name?” She looked at Sam.
She looked at me. “And you?”
“Do you live around here?” she asked me.
“Yes,” I answered. “About a ten-minute walk.”
“Thanks for calling. I’m sure this was scary for you to see.” She asked for both our phone numbers, our home, not cell numbers.
“Do you know what happened?” I hesitantly asked.
“Appears to be a suicide,” Detective Rosales stated.
“Suicide?” Sam repeated.
“Sadly, yes. We found a note in her backpack.”
“How old was she?” I asked.
“According to her driver’s license she was twenty-three,” the detective said.
“Oh.” My voice sank. I felt sick to my stomach. Murder was bad enough, but choosing to take her own life really disturbed me. Then again, the detective said it appeared to be suicide, so possibly it could be discovered the girl didn’t kill herself.
“We’ll investigate, but for now, that’s what we’re seeing. Thanks for your help, and if we have any more questions we’ll call,” Detective Rosales said.
“Okay.” Sam spoke for the both of us.
The dead girl was placed on the gurney, covered and wheeled back up. The detective thanked us again and handed Sam her business card telling him if we thought of anything to call her. They all walked out the gate and the crowd dispersed. Once again we were alone.