Charlotte’s World – Chapter 4

Three weeks later and Charlotte’s nightmares and everyday eventualities continue in her life. Dorothy, Hannah, and Tony have been creative with their most recent advances on Charlotte. Most recently, they tricked a fellow ridiculed victim into punching Charlotte every time she walked past, and, as a result, Charlotte has an impressive purple/black bruise on her upper arm. Yet another thing to hide from her parents. Meanwhile, her parents continue their ignorance of Charlotte while Charlotte continues hiding her nightmares.

She is still dreaming about the playground, it forms in her head like broken glass. She can’t yet figure out the order the dream is meant to be in but she can picture each section of it in her mind. It always begins at the playground, she pictures waking up with blood on her hands. There’s a ghostly figure or presence that she can feel but can never fully make out the features of, she knows she’s scared of it though as there’s a lot of running in the dream. She also hears things. Boys laughing and shouting at her. The part she can remember the most detail of is the same thing that forces her awake. Someone or something stabs her in the chest with a knife, this part feels scarily realistic. Charlotte can feel the pain as the knife slides into her chest, she can smell her blood pouring out of her, but then everything goes dark and she always wakes up at the park.

Parts of the dream are missing and muddled up in her head, especially at the beginning. Charlotte feels like she’s losing her hold on reality. She’s pretty sure she imagined that blonde lady in the park. She still thinks of her often, more from confusion and a lack of answers. Maybe seeing that lady along with these dreams are just obvious signs of Charlotte’s poor mentality and she’s just ignoring them because she doesn’t want to end up in the Asylum. All Charlotte knows for sure is that she hasn’t seen any evidence, other than the footprint, that the lady even existed. She made sure of it, checking the local paper and even going as far as checking the public records at the Town Hall. No evidence of a mysterious blonde woman with no teeth hanging around town or the park. Charlotte has returned every afternoon to that spot, even on weekends, but she hasn’t seen any glimpse of the familiar figure.

Today is no different. It’s Saturday, Charlotte’s mother and father are out for their usual trip into town. They always dress in their finest clothing to smile and greet their neighbours and then go for lunch in the fanciest restaurant, making sure to get a seat by the window where they are seen by passers-by. Charlotte is never invited. Not like she would go even if she was. Pompous swine’s. Charlotte grumbles under her breath, kicking dirt out from under her feet, picturing her parent’s upper-class noses hovering over the heads of the just as cold-hearted townsfolk. She walks up and down the non-existent fence line of the park just like she has every day since seeing that lady. Pacing back and forth. As her legs begin to ache she is tempted to sit down but then shrugs off the feeling and continues. Afraid to sit down in case she misses sight of her. Charlotte feels drawn to her, she can’t stop thinking about her and needs to know who she is. Letting out a sigh of exasperation on her 67th lap of the playground’s edge, Charlotte stops abruptly when she reaches the spot where the lady’s footprint once was, now only a flattened level of soil can be seen. Halfway across the large open field, walking towards her is the lady.

She recognizes the way she’s walking and her blonde hair, this time it sits prominently on her front at her waistline. The wind is still today and the sun is setting. Charlotte stands motionless as the figure descends towards her. She looks as though she’s gliding rather than walking as the long tartan skirt she wears skims the floor. On her top half, she wears a white blouse tucked in. Charlotte feels a pang of jealousy as she sees the lady’s breasts bouncing under the blouse, the moment is quickly ridiculed when she remembers the woman’s lack of teeth though. Staring straight at Charlotte with no expression the woman continues her fast approach. Charlotte questions herself about whether she should stay or not but no matter her choice her legs feel rigid like stone removing from her the option to leave.

Reaching only a few feet from where Charlotte stands the lady stops, still with a lack of expression or emotion on her face. She is close enough for Charlotte to finally get a good look at her face. The first thing Charlotte notices though is, in fact, the smell. Rotten Flesh. Her mother once bought a chunk of ham from the butcher that she forgot about and left in the pantry for months. After that time, it was infested with maggots and let off an exuberant smell of decay. This beautiful jealousy invoking lady standing before Charlotte now reminds her of that smell and she breathes through her mouth to try and avoid throwing up. Other than the loss of teeth she’s seen and the retch-worthy smell. The lady is breathtakingly beautiful. More beautiful than the Barbie look-alikes at school and the models in magazines. With sunflower golden hair tumbling over her sleek shoulders. She has glossy and somewhat light undertoned skin like a china doll. Slender eyebrows sit above larger than average sparkling hazel eyes with largely defined eyelashes attached which flutter like silk threads. Set in the middle of her elongated face is a dainty button nose, either side of that sit dotted shadows of freckles, perfectly formed and symmetrical on either side of her high cheekbones. Almost like they have been painted on. Charlotte notes the plump rose colour showing through their surface. She looks like an angel. Charlotte silently acknowledges in her mind, she carries an untoward aroma of elegance and beauty cemented into her skin. However, Charlotte’s nerves feel ravaged by the arrogant imperfections she has seen on her. The lack of teeth, the smell and Charlotte can also see dirt coated fingernails on her slender hands. This angelic woman comes across as somewhat ambiguous and yet, still hasn’t spoken a word. Charlotte takes a deep breath through her mouth to avoid the stench and gives herself a moment of courage before diving into her words.

“Hello. Are you lost?” Charlotte asks in her most approachable yet guarded voice. 

A long silence fills the late afternoon air. Charlotte is about to prompt another question but she gets as far as saying ‘I’ before the woman interrupts.

“I’m Lenita. I can help you Charlotte”

Lenita’s voice is as radiant as her beauty. Soft with melodic undertones. Enough to lull Charlotte into a false sense of security. It almost makes Charlotte forget the stench until she takes a long inhale through her nose. Her stomach quivers in disgust and she bites down hard on her tongue before continuing

“You know who I am? Do you know the girls at school?” 

Charlotte’s first assumption is that she may know the gossipy girls at school. They have more than their fair share of horrid, cruel stories to tell of their antics, starring Charlotte as the main attraction.

Charlotte’s question is met with a blank stare and a smile from the young elusive. Charlotte can confirm she doesn’t have any teeth. It’s like a black hole inside her mouth, who knows where it leads. She doesn’t see a tongue in there either although how the lady is talking without either she isn’t too sure. The sight makes her take a defensive step back a little further. Charlotte can’t think of any positive reasoning why the woman wouldn’t have any teeth.

“Who are you? What are you doing here? This park is private property. You shouldn’t be here” 

Charlotte squeezes the sentence out in a single bated breath. A sure sign of her fear and impatience about this conversation and the fact that the woman knows who Charlotte is whilst Charlotte, on the other hand, is ever the more in the dark.

“I’m here to help” the woman responds.

“Help with what?” Charlotte asks begrudgingly despite being pretty sure that she doesn’t want to hear the answer.

A series of strange misconceptions happen at this point. Firstly, Charlotte notices a scar on Lenita’s face, just above her cheek close to the side of her temple. It must be no bigger than a button. She must have missed it before. It draws Charlotte’s attention because it has a strange resemblance to a butterfly. Brown in colour and faded as if old but it has the small body and wings to the side of it marked like a butterfly corpse. The second thing that happens is that Lenita takes a quick step towards Charlotte and reaches for her, causing Charlotte to stumble back to avoid her grasp. Righting herself, moments later a butterfly flutters past her eyes. Charlotte is distracted and watches the emerald green butterfly float towards the tree line behind her and disappear out of sight. As if experiencing a flashback, it reminds Charlotte of her stubborn recurring dream, it moulds the pieces back together like gluing the pieces of a smashed vase. 

Her dream begins with her walking to the abandoned park. A woman is there with blonde flowing hair and a thin, gaunt, yet beautiful figure. An enviable beauty that spikes a feeling of jealousy. The dream cuts to her running away from the woman who is walking behind her, chasing her, wearing a white dress than bounces to and fro at the knees. Charlotte runs to the new park, the closest place that there may be people. Getting there she hides in a wooden climbing frame with a roof where she finds two boys. They look of a similar age to Charlotte but they have scratches on their faces and are ghostly white with petrified faces when they see her. Charlotte tells them she’s running from the woman. The youthful boys tell her ‘Lenita is the bad one’. They then show her a newspaper article. ‘Young girl found with single stab wounds. Police referring to it as a suspected suicide” The paper is dated ’23rd August 1967″. A date that hasn’t yet been. 

Chapter 5 coming soon. 

Copyright 2018 

Charlotte’s World – Chapter 3

How long have I been standing here? Charlotte questions herself, partly to distract herself from the situation and partly to secure herself back into reality. It feels like a long time, she’s sure of that.

Trying her best to keep her posture and stern face, Charlotte’s body betrays her as she feels a drop of sweat trickling down her brow. Her hands are getting wetter by the second. There’s just something about this situation that is shouting at her to run but she can’t. No matter how much she thinks it, her legs and feet refuse to move. Almost as if the lady has an aura around her drawing Charlotte’s attention to her and forcing them to stare into each other eyes. If anyone happened to walk upon them at this moment she is sure they would think that they were about to fight. A crazy thought to have regarding a stranger. Charlotte has never been in a fight and hopes to keep it that way. Suddenly, wisps of blonde hair begin moving in the wind again as the lady takes a single step towards Charlotte. She stops just as quick but turns her face upwards into a smile in the process. Charlotte can’t see any pearly white teeth in her smile. In fact, she can’t see any teeth at all. Charlotte screams in a panicked breath and forces her mouth closed just as quick as she tries to hold herself together. Don’t be a stupid girl. Charlotte corrects herself in the voice of her grandmother, an intimidatingly independent woman with only a few stubborn wrinkles to show her age. If her grandmother was here right her she would push Charlotte forward and tell her that she’s being silly. Maybe this has all been a misunderstanding and the young lady just needs directions but is too afraid to approach. Enough is enough. Feeling belittled and increasingly more annoyed at this figure and her encroaching presence as well as the fearful turmoil she is creating in Charlotte’s mind. Charlotte forces her feet and marches toward the woman with vigour.

She plans on demanding why she was here but Charlotte never has a chance to ask her. When she’s just a few yards away Charlotte looks down at her wobbly feet to rectify them, when she looks up a split second later the blonde hair and all that was attached have disappeared. It was an open field and there weren’t many hiding places so unless the lady was laid down in the dirt which Charlotte highly doubted, she must have imagined her. That’s the only plausible explanation for the girls disappearing act. Wrong again though, because where the lady was stood there is now the engraved markings from her feet. 

Dumfounded, Charlotte stands in the marked footprints where the woman was and circles her head slowly trying to catch a glimpse. Even if the lady was running she would be able to see her in the open fields surrounding the park. There’s nothing though. Other than the footprint that Charlotte now skims with the sole of her shoe to make sure it’s real. There’s nothing else that would indicate she was even here just moments ago. Saves me the trouble, Charlotte’s thoughts praise her resilience. Bending her neck down to get a closer look at the footprint Charlotte places her own inside and is surprised to note that they have the same shoe size. Charlotte’s feet lack womanly properties at their rambunctious larger than average size. She’s never met any girl with the same shoe size. 

With a confused last glance towards the spot where moments earlier she recalls the details of the blonde-haired lady’s facial features and her lack of teeth, Charlotte decides it’s best to head home after this afternoon’s suspicious dilemma. 

Unbeknown to Charlotte at the time, it wouldn’t be the only time she sees the estranged woman.

Chapter 4 available here 

Copyright 2018 

Should you study writing?

Some people will tell you that courses in writing are a waste of time. The most basic and influential way of learning to be a writer is by writing and reading.  You observe and write what you see. You read and then write some more. This is the simplest way to learn and improve your skills. You learn by doing. 

So, should you study writing? Simple answer. Yes and no. It solely depends on what you’re studying and your reasons for it. Let me explain.

If you want to sharpen your tools and techniques, talk to a community filled with other writers that can, in turn, help each other to become better writers. Then studying a course may be the perfect thing for you right now. Writing courses offer a safe space to experiment and practice with the knowledge that everyone is in a similar boat. You don’t have to worry about receiving a negative reaction such as you would from friends and family. Instead, you will most likely be offered genuine advice and criticisms on how to improve. Courses are great for a pick me up or boost when you have gotten as far as you can on your own. When you get to that step that you just can’t seem to swing your leg over.

On the other hand,  writing courses aren’t great for everyone and some courses are better than others.

There is no such thing as a good writer or a bad one. Every writer is different and what someone hates about your writing, someone else will love (as long as you put your whole heart into it) so sometimes courses aren’t great for certain people. Maybe you’re picking the wrong course and it’s too limited and is teaching you how to be a certain kind of writer. Sometimes you can find yourself on a course filled with hateful people that think they’re superior. They will dumb down your work and quote books you’ve never heard of. Don’t waste your time with those people. Sometimes you may even have a crap teacher or course. It can’t be helped. 

It’s a bit of a lottery finding a perfect course for each person but the benefits are plenty in my opinion. 

So, should you study writing? Yes, when you need to learn and improve your skills with a different tool. Courses are a great place to chat with other writers and really tune into your skills. They help you become a more knowledgeable writer. Just don’t expect everything to be easy or different with your writing as soon as the course is finished. Things take time and writing is a long winding road with plenty of hidden junctions.