Sunday, November 16, 2014
First 5 Pages November Workshop - Minsky Rev 2
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 would be my first.
Sam, my boyfriend, and I, went 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 a creaky iron wrought gate. We stood on a damp cement road about to turn and wander down a small grassy hill with tall trees when I spotted the body.
It was Sunday morning, and the July fog was thick. Wisps of white ghosts lingered about as the foghorn blared in the distance. It was windy and chilly. 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 with a black backpack by her side. Miles, my dog, began barking. I pulled his leash not wanting to be dragged down the slope blanketed with grass, dried leaves and fallen branches. We stood frozen, fixated on the girl.
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. 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.
“Do you thing she’s dead?” I asked. I took two steps when Sam grabbed my arm.
“Lexi, don’t go down there,” he said. “She’s definitely dead.”
I stopped and glanced at him. “But what if she isn’t and needs help?” I asked. It felt wrong to stare and do nothing.
Sam stepped forward and shouted, “Hey! Are you all right?”
The only sound was a whine from Penny, Sam’s dog. 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.
“She could be unconscious,” I announced even though I believed it was only a hope.
“I don’t think so, Lexi. She looks kinda stiff even from here. Really creepy,” Sam said. “I wonder how long she’s been here.”
“What do you think happened?” I questioned.
“Don’t know. Can’t be good.” 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? Still, all we could do was wait for the police.
With our dogs on leashes we made our way down the hill. Thin branches crackled under our feet while we descended. I slipped and then panicked as we neared the site. I changed my mind. I agreed with Sam, she was gone and getting close to death suddenly scared the hell out of me. I wanted us to turn back, so we did.
I shuddered and said, “Should we go? The police will find her without us.”
“Okay,” Sam said. “I’m a bit spooked.”
As we turned away, I gave it some thought. My curiosity got the best of me. What would the police say? I wanted to know what happened to her. Also, abandoning her felt cruel. We stayed. It wasn’t long when two male 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. When one of the officers asked about the body, Sam pointed toward its direction. The woman introduced herself as Detective Rosales and asked the small crowd 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,” he replied.
Carefully, they navigated the grassy hill to the girl. The detective and police wore light colored purple gloves and knelt down next to the body while the paramedics waited with the gurney they wheeled along. They also examined the tree and surveyed the area. It all intrigued me. While that was taking place a man wearing a gray coat walked through the gate. He walked with determination and looked official. He held a camera in his hand. He joined the crew near the body. They were all quite chatty.
Seeing the camera inspired Sam. He handed me Penny’s leash and lifted the camera that hung from his neck. He brought his camera wherever we went. I called it his fifth limb. Photography was more than a hobby for Sam; it was his passion. He snapped away. He took photos of the girl and the police. At one point he zoomed in on the girl.
“Lexi, look at this!” He removed the camera from his neck and handed it to me. I gave him the leashes. 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 strands streaked with blood. I saw drops splattered on her jacket. Dried, caked, dull red blood. Nausea rose up in me.
Carrying the girl’s backpack, Detective Rosales made her way up. 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 contrasted with 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 said.
“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 it in. I’m sure this was scary for you to see.” She then asked for both our phone numbers, our home, not cell numbers.
“Do you know what happened?” I hesitantly asked.
“It appears to be a suicide,” Detective Rosales stated.
“Oh.” My voice was a murmur. Murder was bad enough, but choosing to take her own life really disturbed me. Why did she say it appeared to be suicide? Was there uncertainty? Was it possible something else occurred? I wanted to know.
“Suicide?” Sam repeated.
“Sadly, yes. We found a note in her backpack.”
“Why aren’t you certain?” I asked.
“Further investigation will determine,” Detective Rosales responded.
“How old was she?” Sam asked.
“According to her driver’s license she was twenty-three,” the detective said. “Thanks for your help. If we have any more questions we’ll call.”
“Okay.” Sam spoke for the both of us.
The dead girl was placed on the gurney, completely 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 remained alone.