Monday, November 3, 2014
First 5 Pages November Workshop - Minsky
Name: Connie Minsky
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Title: THE GIRL IN THE WOODS
I’ve never seen a dead body, but I knew the one I was staring at was lifeless. Sam, my boyfriend, and I, entered the Presidio through the gate at the end of Broadway Street. The Presidio is federally owned land in the middle of our city, San Francisco. It’s a national park consisting of acres of land filled with native plants, trees and walking paths leading through wooded areas. We went there almost every weekend morning with our dogs.
We stood on the cement road surrounded on both sides by grassy areas with tall trees. No cars entered that road, which led to the main road with traffic and then onto a dirt path leading into the woods. To the right, peeking between the trees was a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay with Alcatraz in the distance.
There was a leash law in the park, but Sam and I often disobeyed it. Most people were equally rebellious. Many dogs ran unleashed. It was when I took Miles off the leash and glanced up that I noticed 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. It was the hair that made me think she was a girl. She wore dark colored clothes, and there was a dark backpack next to her.
I was equally frightened and curious. I found it odd that she would be so close to the pedestrian road where she would easily be seen. There were many trees and the grassy area extended far down where she could have been hidden. I thought if I were going to commit a crime and kill someone I wouldn’t do it out in the open. I would have gone further into the woods.
She definitely wasn’t sleeping. There was something eerie about the way the body leaned against the tree with its head dangling forward. There was a silence surrounding her that whispered death. It was Sunday morning, and the late July fog was thick, which added to the already sinister scene. Wisps of white ghosts lingered about as the foghorn blared in the distance. It was a bit windy and chilly. We stood there staring when I finally broke the silence.
“Let’s go down and check it out. Maybe she’s still alive.”
I took about one step when Sam grabbed my arm. “Lexi, you’re not going down there. Get Miles back on the leash before he reaches her.”
Sam’s dog sat obediently by his side. I called Miles, and he immediately returned. I did as Sam said and put his leash on. “Where’s your reporter’s curiosity?” I asked. My curiosity often got the best of me. I was worse than a cat.
We were on the staff for the school newspaper since our sophomore year. I wrote articles about school events and interviewed people like the principal, visiting guests, teachers and students. I wanted to do serious stuff like news reporting, and since I was entering my senior year I was hoping I would finally get the position but I didn’t. Lisa Chen got it.
Lisa began working on the paper since her freshman year so she had more experience than I did. Sam wrote opinion pieces, but his passion was photography. He took all the photos for the sport teams and other events. As an elective we both signed up for the journalism class starting in the fall. Mr. Stone taught the class as well being the advisor for the newspaper.
Sam looked at me. “My instincts are telling me to not mess with anything. There could be important evidence down there. I’m calling 911. We’re staying here with the dogs until the police arrive. It’s probably a murder scene.”
He was acting uncommonly serious. While we waited, Sam took photos. He always brought his camera wherever we went. I called it his fifth limb. He took good pictures. He snapped away. At one point he zoomed in on her. We still couldn’t see her face, but what we did see made us look away from the camera and stare at one another. Blood. Her blond hair had some strands streaked with blood. We could also see some drops on her jacket. Dried, caked, dull red blood.
Ten minutes later 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 flashed her badge. She asked us to wait once we told her we had found the body.
I watched as they all made their way down the slope to the girl. The police and the detective put on light colored purple gloves and knelt down next to the body while the paramedics stood there with the gurney they wheeled along. We could see them 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. I noticed how they surveyed the area surrounding the girl. They even examined the tree. The dogs were getting restless, so we walked over to the other side permitting them to do their business. When we returned the detective walked up to us. She was still wearing the gloves.
Detective Rosales was a tall, slender, pretty woman. She had a confident walk and when she spoke, her voice was strong and serious. I was a bit intimidated. She seemed tough. She looked at Sam.
“Did you make the call?”
“You didn’t notice anything or anyone? Just walking through and spotted the body?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” Sam responded.
“Did you go down there? Touch anything?”
“No, we stayed here.”
“Good. How old are you?”
“We’re seventeen,” Sam said.
“And your name?” She looked at Sam.
She looked at me. “And you?”
“Do you live around here?”
“Yes,” I answered. “About a ten-minute walk.”
“Thanks for calling it in. I’m sure it was scary for you to see.” She then asked for our phone numbers, our home, not cell numbers.
“Do you know what happened?” I hesitantly asked.
“Appears to be a suicide.”
“Suicide?” Sam repeated.
“Sadly, yes. We found a note in her backpack.”
I wanted to ask about the blood, but I didn’t. “How old was she?” I asked.
“According to her driver’s license she was twenty-three,” Detective Rosales replied.
“Oh.” Suddenly I felt sick to my stomach. She was young and took her own life. I found it disturbing. I never considered suicide. I immediately thought someone killed her and that was bad enough, but suicide hit me harder. It was her choice.
“We’ll investigate, but for now, that’s what we’re seeing. Thanks for your help, and if we have any other questions we’ll call.”
“Okay,” Sam said for the both of us.
We watched as the dead girl was placed on the gurney, completely covered and wheeled back up. The detective carried her backpack. She thanked us again and handed Sam her business card telling him if we can think of anything to call her. They all walked out the gate. The crowd dispersed, and we found ourselves alone once again.