Monday, 7 May 2012

Caught in the Web - Chapter Eleven

So, Ok, Ive been very lazy for the past few days and have only posted writings that have been done long ago.  And I have no excuse, just can't seem to get my head into being creative on the page.  I have nearly finished my new knitted jacket though, and have been trying to learn lines for the new play - Our Cousin Will - which the playwright - Mr. Trotter, keeps amending - to make it even better, of course, which means that I have loads of paper copies and some new lines to learn every few days or so.
So I am still being creative but in different ways.

Anyway, for those of you who are following my novel Caught in the Web, here is chapter eleven:

Chapter Eleven
'This should keep you busy.'  Mike handed Karen a worn folder stuffed with papers, some faded and brown at the edges.
'Thanks.'  She took the file from the Charge Nurse and sat down to read.  She'd hesitated to ask about Evelyn again, but Mike was happy to let her take time out to find out more about any of the patients.  The ward was quiet this morning.  Most of the patients were off the ward engaged in their various activities.  The notes were difficult to read, the ink faded and the handwriting hard to decipher.  Nevertheless, Karen was soon engrossed in Evelyn's tale which was unfolding from within the worn pages.
Evelyn's room was never completely dark.  Every time she opened her eyes there was light.  It shone through the thin curtains during the day, and from the light in the corridor at night, always forcing its way into her life.  Evelyn never opened her door to see what lay beyond the room she'd been put in.  She was vaguely aware of faces peering in at her from time to time.
She couldn't remember how long it was since the pain had stopped.  Everything in her life was completely hopeless now, but she didn't really care any more.
She wrapped herself in a blanket of numbness.
Evelyn - 1950
'Evie, you coming up the park tonight?'  Kathy was calling cross the street.
Evelyn stopped scrubbing the steps and looked up.  'I’ve got to look after Joe till six, then get the tea ready for Mum and Uncle Bob.'  She sat on the gleaming steps for a moment.  
'After tea, then,' called Kathy.  'Come on.'
'Alright then,' Evelyn agreed.  'I'll be there by seven.'
'See ya there,' Kathy waved.
Evelyn stood and admired her work.  The garden was neatly filled with flowers and shrubs, the steps up to the door the crowning glory of the facade of the little terraced house.  Her heart lifted a little at the thought of getting out for a while later.  
She carefully carried the bucket of soapy water down the alley-way to the back of the house.   Joe was in the back garden playing with his soldiers, digging miniature trenches amongst the potatoes and carrots that Uncle Bob had planted.
'You be careful with those carrots, Joe,' she called.  'Uncle Bob'll tan your hide if you ruin his veggies.'
'I'm only playing,' Joe grumbled.  'What's for tea?  I'm starving.'
'Pork chops.  I'm just getting it on now.'  She went into the scullery and began peeling potatoes.  The room was dimly lit from the window which looked out onto the communal walkway at the back of the row of houses and the wash house, complete with boiler and copper basin for heating the water for the weekly wash.  Hanging outside the door was the old tin bath which was only used on Sunday evenings when it was filled with boiling water for the family to bathe in one at a time beside the open fire in the parlour.
Evelyn busied herself in the scullery and soon the aroma of cooking filled the house.  Before long she heard the sound of the church clock at the bottom of the street chiming six.  The table in the front parlour was laid ready for their tea.  A bowl and clean towel was waiting in the scullery, a large pot of water simmered on the gas stove ready for Uncle Bob to wash off the grime from the foundry where he worked for ten hours a day. 
Evelyn quickly slipped out of the back door and called up the garden to Joe.  'Tea's ready.  And wash your hands when you come in.'
Joe was at the butler sink in the scullery, and Evelyn was stirring the gravy when the door opened again and Mum and Uncle Bob came in, laughing together over some private joke.
'Hello kids,' Mum smiled at them.  'Oh, it's nice to be home.  That smells good.'
'Hello, Mum, Uncle Bob.'  Evelyn poured hot water into the bowl waiting on the kitchen table.  'Tea's about ready.  I'll keep the chops warm while you get washed -  I just have to mash the spuds.'
'You're a good girl, Evie.'  Uncle Bob squeezed her arm.  She glowed under his praise.
'Can I go out after tea?’ she asked.  
Her mother glanced at her uncle.
'Please, Mum.  I'll do the washing up first, and put everything away.'  
'What do you think, Bob?'  Her Mother looked anxiously at him.
'Why're you asking me?  She's your daughter.'  He turned to Evelyn.   'Where are you going anyway?' 
'To the park with Kathy.  Just for a while,' Evelyn pleaded.
'I know she's my daughter,' Mum said.  'But I wouldn't go against you, Bob.  As long as she's in by dark, then?'
'Uncle Bob?' Evelyn asked.
'Go on then.  But behave yourself,' he relented.  'And make sure you're in before dark, like your mother said.'
It was past seven when Evelyn finally escaped into the summer evening air.  The sun was still shining as she walked through the gates of the park and she could see Kathy waiting for her on the swings.  There were other youngsters around, some on the see-saw and others on the roundabout, their laughter floating on the air towards her as she walked across the finely mown grass.
'There you are.'  Kathy swung herself gently, spinning around with her feet on the ground.  
Evelyn sat on the next swing feeling a lovely sense of freedom.
'Sorry.  I had to do the washing up before I could get out.  Have you been sitting here on your own all this time?'
'Susan had to go in,' Kathy said.  'I'm glad you’re here.  I was getting fed up with being the only girl and too embarrassed to walk past that lot.'  She giggled, nodding towards the group of boys who were on the roundabout performing acrobatics.  'Look at that lot of show-offs.'
Evelyn looked across the playground at the boys.
'That's Jack and Alan.  They live down Gordon Road, don't they?' she said.  'I don't know the others though.'
'That's Micky - the one in the blue shirt.  And I think the other one's called David.'  Kathy paused.  'Oh my God, they're coming over here.  Don't look.'
Evelyn could see them walking across the playground out of the corner of her eye as they tried to pretend that they were in deep conversation.
'Hello girls.'  It was Jack speaking.
'Hello Jack - Alan.'  Evelyn looked them up and down.  When her eyes reached  David’s she felt her face burning.  She flashed him her brightest smile and looked away quickly.
'What are you two up to then?'  Jack asked.
'Nothing.'  Kathy answered for them both.
'Fancy coming for a walk with us, over to the railway lines?' Jack smiled.  'Come on, we've got some fags.  We won’t be seen there.'
'I don't know.'  Evelyn was unsure.  'I have to be in by dark.'
'It's not that far.'  Kathy was obviously keen.  'Come on Evie.  It won't be dark for hours yet.'
Evelyn glanced at David and her mind was made up.  'Alright then, I'll come.'
They set off across the park, climbed over the style and were soon walking towards the bank of the railway line across the field.  Evelyn felt the swish of the long grass against her bare legs as she walked.  When they reached the other side their way was barred by a wire fence held in place by concrete posts.  
The boys were over the fence in the blink of an eye.
'Come on girls.'  Jack was holding the top wire up with one hand, his foot on the bottom one, leaving a gap for the two girls to step through.
'You should have made them climb over the top, then we could've looked up their skirts,' Micky laughed.
'Don't you be so mucky!' Kathy retorted.  'I'll tell your mother.'
'And I'll tell yours you've been on the railway bank.'
'You wouldn't!' Kathy protested.
'And smokin' fags,' he continued.
'Yeah, well, I'll tell your Dad,' Kathy snapped back.
'Oh, stop it you two.'  David grabbed Evelyn's hand and pulled her away.
They slid down the bank to the railway navvy's hut which was half hidden by bushes, and soon were crouching behind it, leaning their backs against the hot concrete wall.
'Give us a fag then,' Kathy said to Jack.
'I've only got one - we'll have to share it.'
Where d'you get it from?' Kathy asked.
'My Dad left his fags in his jacket pocket,' Jack laughed.  'I nicked one when he was out the back working in the garden.'
'He'll kill you if he catches you,' Alan said.
'He won't catch me though, will he.'  Jack held out a battered Woodbine and straightened it out before placing it between his lips.
'I bet he counts them,' Alan said.  'My Dad does.'
'Well I don't care if he does,' Jack insisted.  'Do you want some of this or not?'
'Course I do,' Alan said.  'You got a light?'
'I have.'  David produced a box out of his pocket and struck a match.
Jack leaned towards the flame and soon the cigarette was alight.  He inhaled with a flourish and leaned back against the wall  blowing the smoke out through his half open lips.
'Great,' he sighed.  He puffed again on the cigarette before passing it to Alan.  One by one they each took a lungful of smoke.
Evelyn felt her head becoming dizzy.  It wasn't the first time she'd smoked.  Everyone around here did.  She knew she'd look stupid if she was the only one who didn't.  She remembered the first time, when she'd choked and had a coughing fit.  Now she was used to it and enjoyed the floaty feeling it gave her.  She relaxed and stretched her legs out in front of her, the warmth of the wall seeping into her back. 
Alan and Micky got up and wandered off along the bank.  
'There's wild strawberries along here,' Alan called.  'We should've brought  something to put them in.'
Evelyn closed her eyes.  She could hear their voices floating on the evening air, but she was too comfortable to move.  She felt the touch of a hand on hers and opened her eyes.   David was lying close by her side.  She turned her head and looked straight into his eyes which were looking back at her.  His fingers stroked her palm.
'What are you doing?' she giggled.
'Don't you like it?' he whispered back, his lips close to her ear.
'I might.'
'Well, make your mind up.'  He paused. 'I think you do.'
'I don't even know you,' Evelyn protested.
'Well, I want to know you better.'  He snuggled into her neck.
Evelyn stopped trying to protest and turned her face to his.  His lips were gentle on hers as he kissed her.  It was the kiss of someone who had kissed before, not the usual tight-lipped kisses that boys had given her in the past.  She felt herself melting inside as the desire for him flickered into life.  The kiss went on and on, and when eventually they came up for air, Evelyn gasped for breath.  Embarrassed, she turned her head to see if Kathy and Jack were still there.
'We're going back now.'  Kathy stood, brushing the grass from her skirt.  'You coming with us?'
'Yes, I'd better be getting home.'  Evelyn said.  David pulled her up and they climbed the railway bank towards the fence where Alan and Micky were sitting.  Soon they were all walking back across the field towards the park, Evelyn and David  trailing along at the rear hand in hand
'Oh, my God!  It's your Uncle Bob!'  It was Kathy who first saw him waiting at the edge of the park, glaring towards the happy group.
Evelyn pulled her hand away from David's and grabbed hold of Kathy's arm.
'Sorry David,' she apologised.
'Can I see you again?' he asked.
'I don't know.' 
'I'll be in the park tomorrow,' David said.
'Shush.'  They had neared the style and Uncle Bob was within hearing.
A silent group climbed over as he stood aside watching each of them step onto the smooth grass of the park once again.  Evelyn looked at him, smiled tentatively and bowed her head.
'I was just coming home,' she mumbled, walking ahead of him towards the gate of the park.  Soon they reached the back door to her home once more.
Evelyn was lying in her bed.  The room was dark - she could hear the sound of her Mum snoring in the next room.
It had been a tense evening.  Uncle Bob had said nothing to her when they got in from the park.  She had felt his eyes on her, but each time she looked up he'd looked away.
She cast her mind back to the moment when David had touched her hand.  She smiled to herself in the dark, dreaming of his soft lips and the lovely smell of his Brylcremed hair which still lingered on her hands.
The creaking of her bedroom door startled her.
'Who's that?' she whispered.
The figure moved quickly to her bedside.  She recognised the silhouette of Uncle Bob as he stood beside her.
'Shush,' was his answer.  'You don't want to wake your mother, do you?'  He sat on the bed, his hand reached out to touch her hair.
'What are you doing?  What do you want?'
'You've been with that boy.'  His voice was hoarse.  'I just want to talk to you, without your mother listening in.  Tell me what he did to you.'
'Nothing,' Evelyn spluttered.  'He did nothing.  Go away.'
'Did he touch you?' he hissed.
'No.  Of course not.'  Evelyn was indignant now.  'I'm not like that.'
His hand reached towards the covers but Evelyn was held them tightly up to her neck.  He gripped her hand.
'Let me have a look.  I'll know whether he touched you or not.'
'No,' Evelyn pleaded, but he was too strong and pulled the sheet from her in one swift movement.  He clamped one hand across her mouth.
'Now don't you wake your mother,'  he breathed.  'I'll tell her I saw you behaving like a whore.'  He roughly pulled up her nightdress with his free hand.
Evelyn froze as she felt his hand between her legs, his fingers probing her.  She muffled a painful scream beneath his other hand which was still tightly held against her mouth.
'You've been at it with that boy,' he panted.  'Did you like it?'
Evelyn tried to shake her head, to deny it, but he was holding her too tight.
'I'll show you what a real man is like.'  His coarse breath was hot against her neck as he forced his way into her.  Evelyn stopped struggling, too afraid to move as he thrust into her again and again.
When it was over, he just got up and left the room as quietly as he had come in.  Evelyn lay still for a long time, the tears wet on her cheeks, until finally the light at her window told her that it was morning.

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