Charlotte’s World – Chapter 2

Six years later, Charlotte’s nightmares are more gruelling than ever. Only last week did she wake up in a farmer’s field miles from home and was chased by the angry farmer with a large rake in hand. Another time she recalls waking up and all most falling off a cliff edge into the depths below as she casually turned over whilst stretching. She’s even tried to secure herself to the bed but her mother nearly caught her tying the knots. It was too risky. If her mother catches her they will send her away where all the others go. There seemed to be no desirable ending to her situation. My life is a constant torment. Charlotte wallows in her own dark thoughts as she leaves the school grounds after another long-winded day.

Cutting through the edge of town, Charlotte scoots around the local grocery and heads around the back. This isn’t the shortest route home but she never rushes. Her mother is normally having one of her meetings or out with friends whilst her father is at work in the city. At 4 pm there’s nothing to rush home for. So, she dawdles as usual. Taking her time and heading the long way around town through the Drive-in theatre and around the new park. She would never understand the appeal of moving pictures. Her parents, like a lot of others, had grasped onto the ideals of such a thing. Most people in this small town of 2000 were now driving fancy cars and enjoying unusual hobbies. Charlotte preferred to contemplate her surroundings and read the latest inquisitive novel by her favourite writer Anthony Burgess. Twenty minutes into her dawdling routine Charlotte arrives at the old park. Unlike the town’s main park filled with in-bloom flowers and forest greens, this park was old and forgotten. When the new one was made this became washed up garbage dismissed like a mouldy bloomer.

Not long-ago Charlotte didn’t know of this place either. She woke up here one frosty morning in September last year. Her bare feet on the degraded tarmac and her head next to the rusty pole that used to hold the weight of a swing. It wasn’t until she woke up here that she remembered this place. It was squished into the back of her mind blocked off by newer memories. Waking up that morning she remembered like she was here yesterday. She could recall falling on her knees and her mother helping her up when she jumped off the swing. The feel of the wind in her hair as she whizzed around the roundabout pushed by her father. She must have been quite young at the time because her mother and father don’t have the time for her now. They sigh a lot or shrug off her presence when she’s in the room with them. They act kind towards her for appearances on behalf of other people seeing a perfect family but that’s about it. They resent her for being anything but that sparkling precious diamond. They often busy themselves with hobbies, holidays and work with Charlotte being at the bottom of that list. The silver lining on every cloud though. It made it easier for Charlotte to hide her bad dreams. Still, sometimes she found herself wishing they’d had a second child so she would at least have some company.

She had never experienced any constant with her dreams up until recently when strangely she started experiencing the same dream over and over. She can’t recall all details of the nightmare but it involves a lot of running. Running to something or from something Charlotte wasn’t to know. Sometimes she would wake up with images of blood dripping from fingers engraved in her mind. Other times she woke with a start after hearing a woman’s scream. It would take her a couple of minutes to plant her feet firmly back in reality. Sometimes her dreams were like this. Regular dreams with no set story or structure. Unlike her other dreams though this one was regular in more ways than one. Every time she awoke from it she would be at the park. This had never happened before. Due to the frequency that she had awoken at the old park the past few weeks she had started to include a visit in her afternoon routine in hopes of settling her frequent stubborn atrocities. This recurring dream was broken into fragments. Charlotte only remembers the old park being in it. She remembers running with her feet pounding on the floor. Sometimes she sees images of two figures crouched over something but she can’t figure out what. There’s always a lady in her dream as well. She knows it’s a lady by the way she walks and the way she’s shaped. It’s frustrating to remember something in pieces that you have never experienced. 

Today, Charlotte was sitting in her usual spot on the bottom of the slide – you couldn’t go down it anymore because there were no longer any ladders, just a couple of poles holding it up – when she noticed someone walking somewhat cautiously around the border of the park. Turning around the bends and following the path of the misplaced wooden planks. Only a small glimpse of what was once the park fence and gate remains. Half on the floor and coated in an unkempt thick layer of wild grass and the other half stolen by bored children or drunken men. This person was a similar height to Charlotte and around 500 yards from where she was sitting with her legs crossed, perched on the end of the slide. It certainly looked like a girl, or rather a lady. She carried herself as Charlotte had been taught.

From as young as two girls are taught how to dine with others, how to do their hair and makeup and even how to walk. All in the hopes of moulding them into sophisticated young women. It was the figures confident walk that Charlotte first spotted. A walk she made sure to do in front of others. Shoulders back, hips forward, head up. Unlike this apparent lady though, Charlotte would only ever pretend to be proper. As soon as she was on her own she would slouch her shoulders and kick her feet, scuffing her shoes on the ground like a stubborn child. Charlotte spent several minutes watching the young lady.  She had never seen anyone here at this time before. There was normally only activity here during the evenings when people would use it as a hiding place for their frowned upon or even illegal actions. Charlotte knew people frequented here because they always left a trail of discarded bottles and cigarette butts in the more secluded areas such as the box climbing frame. Now only a few bits of wood it was still enough to duck under as a shelter from the rain. 

The lady looked to be of a similar age to Charlotte’s. She was certainly no older than 18 but she had the playful air about her of an older child. Stepping over broken wood with an energetic leap rather than a womanly stride on tiptoes. Certainly not that young though. Charlotte could see her large breasts bouncing uncontrolled under her floral tunic. Charlotte had certainly never seen her before. She must be new otherwise she would have seen her at school. Unless she doesn’t go to school anymore and doesn’t attend university, but then she would be expected to be courting for a suitable husband by now at the very least. Either way, she shouldn’t be here. Green tentacles loop through Charlotte’s hair and entwine into her clothes as she watches the spindly figure bouncing around the border of the old park as if it were her own property. Laying a tactile slender hand on various posts and flowers as if marking her territory. With Daffodil coloured and exceptionally straight hair moving behind the intruder as she bounces around, she glides around the fence twice in a loop before stopping abruptly on the third time when she reaches the gap where the gate once stood. Charlotte adjusts her seated position. Grasping the edge of the slide with both hands and planting her feet firmly on the ground. She gets ready to run if she needs to. She can’t allow this lady to learn her name. Charlotte has already taken a lot of risk by staying where she is. The last thing she wants is some tattle tale going to her parents. Charlotte would be sent away before the morning rose if her mother and father found out she had been coming here. Charlotte decides she would try to run if the lady walks any closer towards her, confident that she can find a large hole on the opposite side of the playground to scurry through. The slender figure doesn’t move at all though. Not a quiver of her feet that were previously moving so elegantly in their flat white loafers or a strand of her suddenly still hair. If Charlotte hadn’t just been watching her moving she could have sworn that it was a very realistic statue. Despite being unable to see clearly, she would assume that even the lady’s large chest was still and devoid of breaths. 

Standing at the edge without a single toe on the tarmacked square of the derelict playground. The 5’7 tall figure stares straight ahead. Charlotte turns to look behind her and can only see open empty fields filled with shrivelled brown grass and the random spots of yellow weeds. Nothing obvious that would indicate the attention needed of the woman and yet she stares ahead as if watching a play or expecting the world to end before her very eyes. Charlotte’s hairs stand on her neck and she shivers despite the wind carrying a warm breeze. Charlotte is surprised that she hasn’t been noticed, she may be wearing dark clothes but she is still an obvious out of place feature in the park. Something about the mysterious presence of the woman has her courage on tenterhooks. Still, now that she’s closer she can get a better look while the woman’s attention is elsewhere. She’s around 17 years old with a freckled pale complexion and pinched red cheeks. The tunic she’s wearing is covered in vibrant florals and intricate weaving. It looks of the latest fashion. Charlotte recalls seeing something very similar in the latest teen magazine. Brown tights hug her long legs and a yellow pearl necklace hangs from her neck. Her outfit is finished with a flame orange headband in her hair just like the girls at school wear. The bullies would love her. She looks like she’s stepped off the runway and straight into her worst nightmare, so out of place is such beauty in a second-hand disregarded area of the town. Maybe aliens have brought her here. Charlotte silently tells herself off for such a ludicrous thought. Maybe she does belong in the asylum after all. The tentacles of jealousy evolve Charlotte’s aggressive side. She feels betrayed by her own sensibility. To focused on herself, Charlotte fails to notice that the woman’s eyes now focus on her. Looking up she is met with a severe gaze burrowing into her mind.

Chapter 3 available here 

Copyright 2018 

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