No replies
kirkman's picture
Joined: 2019/03/27






At six am the last impression of the moon faded into an indigo sky, itself slowly transforming into a pale-blue.  The curtains had not been drawn the night before, so Harriet watched from her bed, having been awake the whole night but for twenty minutes.  Hunger brought thoughts of breakfast to her mind and treading carefully over a carpet decorated with clothes, soft toys and coffee stains, she exited the door and went downstairs.  The kitchen was as it always was, kept so by her mother, with everything pristine, everything in its place, but for the obligatory dishes ever in the draining board, immediately handy to have food heaped upon them as so often it was.  Mechanically margarine and strawberry jam were extracted from the fridge, whilst three rolls were taken from the breadbin.  It was small in this corner of the kitchen and everything could be located upon a turn of so many degrees.  Harriet lifted the kettle from its stand to fill from the tap, though the weight informed her it already contained enough water and it was replaced.  Taking a large knife from the rack she sliced the buns into halves, sticking two pieces in the toaster and the rest under the grill.  She collected crumbs from the breadboard and cupped them over to the bin.  The kettle was horrible to listen to the way it boiled and coupled with the humming grill, it sounded like two geriatrics recounting tales to each other at the same time while neither listened.  The sound grew in her ears and she turned on the wall mounted TV to distract her.  As bright moving colour danced about the screen she thought about what had happened the day before.  Right now she felt absolutely nothing about it, as though it had not taken place.  She conjured up the images she remembered, the boy’s face and the feeling of him inside her, but none of this had any effect.  She was supposed to be angry, disgusted, but she just wasn’t interested.  Was that normal?  What should she be feeling?


The worst of it all had been walking home through the village, a number of people gawping at her, able to sniff out something gone awry, but she didn’t think any of them knew her name or who her parents were.  Once home she had gone into the bathroom and stayed there for over two hours, showering, bathing and rinsing herself out over and over again.  She thought it was the wrong thing to do if she wanted him caught.  There would be no trace of him now.  No DNA she supposed. Still, cleanliness was vital, as he might have had anything.  “Jack”.  That had been his name.  He was tall with tangled brown hair and green-brown eyes.   She’d fancied him and she’d even liked his personality and had no idea…/


The whirrs of the kitchen were becoming unbearable.  The toaster sounded its first jolt and the kettle climbed up to its optimum temperature.  She tuned in to the words emitting from the TV set and the fat man displayed across the screen, “…will be dropping in to talk about his new film “Diamond Land” and our old friend Salina will be here at ten with those fantastic kitchen tips to make your family and friend’s mouths water.  That’s all coming up later but first, yes it’s that time again, we’re going to play dash-for-cash!” 


Glancing around the kitchen she felt claustrophobic and a headache began to swell.  There was a slight ache in her legs and she wanted to sit down but not in the kitchen or any other room of that disgusting house.  The bread on the grill was beginning to smoke and she turned it off and threw the burnt food into the sink.   She fumbled for the key on the dresser table top and jammed it into the lock of the kitchen door, which lead outside.  She dropped down to open the second lock and then slid back the bolt at the top, rushing into the morning air as soon as the wooden frame would pull open.  She could just hear the kettle clicking off before she disappeared round the side of the house into the garden.  It was a large garden, encircled by a dark wooden fence, though they had no immediate neighbours.  She bent down to touch the dew, but it was already drying.  A lady bird crawled up a grass blade beneath her and then its wings burst open and it was away into the expanse of empty space. She knelt down in her night dress, the long green fuzz stroking her knees inside it.  She looked at the flowers and bushes growing all around against the fence.  She didn’t know any of their names, but her favourite were the yellow and orange ones in the far corner, shaded by the imposing evergreen tree.  Looking at it a blackbird shot out and landed a metre away before it noticed she was something alive.  It must be nesting up there and she thought back to the previous spring when she had, aided by a step ladder, peered into a nest there and watched spotty green eggs turn to hairless flesh balls and then to fluffy little chicks that chirped and craned their necks when you leaned over.  Perhaps it was the same mother returning to a useful site.  She’d fed the babies once.  Educing some guilt, a small worm dangled by her delicate fingers had not been rejected.  The mother would never have guessed such intervention.  After weeks had gone by she came back one morning to discover one of the chicks, well matured by that time, fallen dead at the bottom of the tree- probably the result of its first attempt at flight.  She’d buried it by the roses. 


            The bird was gone, but Harriet was not alone.  A cat had slinked in from somewhere and was eyeing her from behind a mallow bush.  Harriet mewed to it but it remained static before clambering up and over the fence.  It was lovely in the grass with the air so fresh.  Nidderwald at least was as far from smoke and fumes as anywhere in the country could be she thought. She crawled on all fours towards the old evergreen and peered into the soil at its roots.  Insects were always active in the summer months and here was a troop of ants.  She watched with fascination as two clambered about a piece of moulded food, a small chunk of cheese by the look of it.  They climbed about it for some time before marching away and then new ants discovered it before leaving.  Time passed and gradually more and more discovered the food until there were thirty or so gathering around it and then it was hoisted up above them and carried back to their den, which she discovered was a crack in the decrepit paving stone that had once been a patio.  The cheese was too big to fit in however and she wondered how the problem would be solved, though enough time had been spent watching them already.  She began to crawl back towards the path to the kitchen door and noticed her father peering out from the slit of the open bathroom window, the rest of it frosted over.  She held his gaze until he returned to the shower and then she got to her feet and went inside.  She buttered the toast that had been left there for over an hour and devoured it within a minute.  She was going to have to tell her parents about what had happened the previous day.  Even to her it didn’t seem to have sunk in, but the more she thought about it, the worse it seemed.  She heard footsteps and then sniffling and then her dad was in the kitchen, a body of fat and liver spots hidden behind a silken dressing gown with sunflowers on it.  He was fifty-two years old with a weak frame and weaker features, all small, delicate and wrinkled up.  His head was bald but for the thinnest array of white hairs combed over from the right.  A thick white moustache lined his lip and glasses protected his saggy, watery eyes.  He spoke in a thick and nasal Lancashire accent, “Your mad you are.  What were you doing crawling around the garden like that?”


She stared at him bewilderedly.  This was her dad.  She remembered him when she was little, the same but with less wrinkles and more hair of a sandy colour.  He had played with her now and again, building sandcastles and dressing Ken and Barbie dolls, but as she had grown there had been less to react on from him and anything she did provoked no interest from him.  He was usually in a bad mood these days when he spoke at all. He just worked in the garage and gardened on the weekends and worked in the law firm on the weekdays and spoke to her in between about leaving towels on the bathroom floor and spilling coffee on the settee.  Her mother was not much different in the way of conversation and since she had started college they had both left her more or less to her own devices.  No more shouting about homework left to the last minute. 


“What are your plans for the day then?” enquired Brian. 


“I don’t know.  I’m going out”.  She suddenly realized that she’d have to tell him before long.  She watched him boiling the kettle, whistling nasally to himself and the sight of it made her laugh out loud.  He looked at her and smiled his smile, displaying his buckteeth.  She couldn’t seem too cheery bearing in mind what she had to tell him she thought as she went upstairs to dress.  She heard her mother rummaging in the bathroom.  Damn.  Her dress was in the laundry basket, bloodstained.  Standing on the landing she could hear the chirp of birds coming in from an open bedroom in her parent’s bedroom.  It made her want to be outside again and a powerful hatred of the house closed around her once more.  She dressed and went outside to catch the bus into town.  She thought she ought to tell the police first. 


It was a long wait for the late bus and half way through the man who she had collided with the night before stopped to wait beside her.  She caught him looking at her from the corner of her eye and looking as though he were coming close to say something, she pulled her phone from her jean pocket and turned to sit on one of the seats.  From where she sat she observed Nidderwald.  The houses were a mixture of cottages and semi-detacheds.  It was all crumbly brown brick and trellised rooftops.  There was never any one out in the streets save children and all nights were spent in homes or pubs, of which there was two to choose between.  She saw a boy walking towards the bus stop and recognised him from college.  He was dressed as most others in jeans and a t-shirt with hair gelled spiky.  He was busy playing with his mobile phone.  He walked in what surely must be an exaggerated swagger.  He sat down next to her and smiled, but she chose to look away. 


“Charming” he said and she was very surprised.  She didn’t respond.


“What’s up with you then?” he asked and she turned to face him.  His face was angular and freckled with a long, pointed and upturned nose, making him resemble a weasel.  He always had girls around him at college. 


“Nothing” she replied and looked ahead of her.


“Coming out to the party tonight?” he asked.


 She stared at him inquisitively.  He knew she wouldn’t be as it was clear enough they didn’t know each other or have any mutual friends.  His voice was heavily accented.  She couldn’t understand how some people had such an accent when she herself did not. 


“It’s for Sara.  You know Sara?  I think she once said you’re in her history class.  Anyway you ought to come down, it’ll be a laugh”.


It was a surreal seeming day and his words seemed without meaning.  They had very little within their own context and within the socially constructed ties between the two of them, but she felt as though she were suddenly in an alien world where people spoke and acted in a way she did not understand.


“Well, are you coming then?” he enquired.


“You know I don’t know you” she said.


“So, I’m just being friendly.  You can come down if your want.  We’re meeting down the shop first, going to buy booze and that.  About eightish if you fancy it”.


He didn’t make it sound appealing but momentarily she pondered how she had no friends and company of a sort might be nice.


“Well, you never know” she said quietly and resumed her stare at the opposite side of the road.


“Up to you” he said and got up as the bus was drawing near.  She sat at the back and the guy didn’t bother to join her.  The bearded man sat at the front on a seat protruding from the side and glanced at her once every two or three minuets.  The bus’s engine choked and growled as fields and trees rolled by.  It was a pleasant journey to the city, up and down light hills and passing a small lake at one point.  Gradually villages became more frequent and going through a market town the bus came out amongst high rise flats, plastic chairs strewn about their bottoms, windows boarded up with planks of wood, a burnt out car on one residential street.  Passing through this it was soon all brand names, banks and restaurants and she got off in the centre.  The notion of going to the police had been an excuse to come in.  She didn’t want to stay in the house with her parents or anywhere in the village for that matter.  She took her purse from her pocket and saw only four pounds sixty within.  It was a seven pound fair for a return journey on the bus.  All around her people were walking and talking or sitting and eating.  They were walking to one shop from another and they were eating burgers and fries or pasties and pastries.


She heard faint music and followed the sound to a square where people sat and ate and watched a young girl playing the flute.  She was very good and the sweet notes drew Harriet’s ears away from the surrounding raucous.  It was a good idea busking like that.  Every once in a while some change was dropped into the hat.  She wished she could play like that.  She could play the saxophone to some standard, but not well enough for a public performance.  Someone was suddenly shouting very loud and laughing and Harriet turned to see a group of younger youths in tracksuits throwing chips at each other.  Heads turned from all directions to watch them before turning away again.   Stood on a platform nearby was a man painted purple and dressed in a matching suit.  A little boy dropped some coins into the dish beneath his feet.  He looked on expectantly but the man remained as still as a statute.  The boy retrieved the money and scampered off, the man giving himself away by a move of the eyes and a tightening of his pissed-off fist. 


There was a park somewhere in the city-centre and Harriet longed to be there instead of her current position.  She got up to set about finding it.   When she reached the park she was pleasantly surprised.  Even in this dismal city was a place of greenery.  Despite the litter on the grass and the rowdiness of the assorted people, it was a space of bright, green grass and trees.  She walked the twisting path and chose a secluded spot of grass to sit on.  She lay for an hour, moving once to buy freshly made lemonade form a wheeled cart.  Girls and boys were everywhere, together.  They lay, many of the boys with their tops off, holding hands, kissing and cuddling.  Rage had used to build in her on seeing such things, but it didn’t bother her today.  She closed her eyes and the beginnings of sleep enveloped her.  She was sinking away as the sun warmed her flesh, images /twisting and turning, taking on meanings understood by a mind beyond rational thought.  Half awake she tried to describe the pictures she saw.  A pink elephant shifting, sweeties…and then she was talking to a woman in a shawl.  The dream lasted a minute before she awoke with a start, some muscle reflex jolting her out it seemed. 


            She spoke softly to herself, “yesterday I was raped”.  She tried to think about it again, but the thoughts weren’t coming.  What was she supposed to feel?  She looked at some of the boys sprawled out on the grass.  Greasy and spotty.  Jack hadn’t been like that at least.  What was she thinking?  She scolded herself although then what did it matter?  What did any of it matter? Images danced again as sleep lulled her in once more.  When she awoke the next time, half an hour had passed.  The sun was blinding as she opened her eyes and as she straightened up she heard a laugh and caught a faint glimpse of some teenagers glancing at her as they exited the park gates.  She looked down and saw a condom on her tummy, stretched out.  She brushed it aside with a stick and brushed herself down standing up.  There was nothing for her here.  She walked back into the town and was soon at the bus stop with fifteen minutes to wait. 


She looked away as the boy who had spoken to her earlier came into view.  He saw her but sat on a wall behind her as the seats around her had become taken.  She turned her head and saw his eyes from the corner of hers.  He smiled, revealing braces.  She looked away.  He wasn’t attractive, but he was still a male.  She could kiss him maybe, love him.  Everyone was beautiful she thought in their own way she thought. Then gain maybe not, as she thought of the politicians she saw on TV, killing people and consciously knowing it, deluding themselves that the history they made was somehow “grand”. 


Jack.  His image came into her head and was gone.  What a bastard.  He’d raped her… he’d raped her!  He’d held her down and broken her bloody skin.  A moment supposed to be special.  Then again, she had not been drunk like acquaintances said they had for the first time. The bus pulled up and she trotted on behind shuffling old people.  She was too tired to watch the scenery on the way back and slept again. 


            The dream faded, faded…light came into her eyes and she almost shrieked to see the boy before her, his hand drawing away from her shoulder.  The bus driver’s voice was saying something to them and the boy laughed.  “You were asleep” he said.


“I thought you might miss your stop, seeing as you got on here with me earlier”.


“Thanks” she replied uncomfortably.  They got off and the boy walked by her side along the street.


“My name’s Crepes” he said.


“Crepes? That’s an odd name”.


“My nickname, it’s really Christian”. 




“Like I said, if you wanna come down to the party tonight, just meet me at eight at the shop.  I’ll introduce you to everyone and that.  So what’s your name?”




“Oh cool.  That’s a nice name”.


She wanted to get away from him, aware that he didn’t interest her. 


“My streets off down here” she lied and began to turn off.


“Hey” he called and she turned back.


“I’ll see you tonight then?”


She just stared at him before he saluted her and walked on.  It was nice of him to ask.  She could have been nicer.  From the street she’d taken the journey home was another five minutes longer, but she was in no rush to get there and when she did she went  straight to bed and slept.  She woke at half past five.   


            She looked up at the ceiling.  It seemed to move, to crawl.  “Teas ready” her mother called from downstairs and she heard the swivel chair in the office creak under her father’s weight as he left to go downstairs and eat.  She waited until she heard them enter the living room to watch TV and then went and ate her own which had been left on a plate in the oven. Vegetarian sausages, runner beans and onion gravy.  She washed her plate and those her parents had left and then entered the living room, sitting in the chair opposite the sofa they occupied.  Her father looked at her and smiled.  “It’s not often we get the pleasure of your company in here.  Do you want something?”


“I need to tell you something” she breathed.  Should she just say it?  She thought she might as well and perhaps their emotion might graft the fact into something tangible, due to the lack of her own.  “Yesterday…” she started.  Her mother watched her and the soap on TV in turn.  “Yesterday I was r…I was rung back by that supermarket I applied to, and I’ve got a trial day there on Monday so I’d appreciate a lift into town when you go into work”.


“Not till you tidy your room” said her mother and she left the room, the door knob rattling in its irritating way as she closed it.  She hadn’t heard back from the supermarket, but she had applied to it.  Entering back into her room she breathed in the floating dust.  It was a mess.  Papers lay scattered with the clothes, half finished drawings and attempts at writing poetry.  She hoped her mother hadn’t delved through them.  She opened the wardrobe revealing a couple of pairs of clean trousers and a top.  Perhaps she would go to the party after all.  She could just hang around at the shop and see what happened.  She hadn’t even been to a party for years, while her acquaintances at college spent most weekends at them.  She ran herself a bath and remembered sitting it in the day before, watching the blood come out from inside her, swirling beneath the surface in a red mist.  She didn’t hurt anymore.  That was something.  She sank down into the bubbly green and closed her eyes.  All thoughts disappeared, her skin savouring the sensual caress of the water.  She showered when the water had lost its heat and dressed in her clean clothes, scooping the others off the floor and depositing them in the laundry basket.   It was now only quarter to seven.   Looking at her reflection in the kitchen mirror she saw she had no makeup.  She never wore makeup, but everyone else did.  She went to her mother’s room and applied a little red lip stick, cringing at the thought of her mother snaking across her own mouth.  She looked at herself in the mirror and saw it suited her as well as any other girl.  Mascara was sitting there, but she thought she might make a mess of it.  She went back into her room and threw herself on the messy bed, conscious its dirt might rub off on her outfit.  She picked up the TV remote from the cabinet beside her and switched on the small box that sat on the floor in a corner of her room.  The news was on and images were of a sandy place with two soldiers operating some kind of gun.  It was a big white barrel and one man dropped large disc-like things into it before the two of them dropped down with their hands over their ears and a large bang emitted from the metal tube along with black smoke.  The men leapt back up to their feet and the process was repeated.  Harriet wondered where the fodder ended up.  A school perhaps?  A hospital?  Probably it just landed round about a group of similar soldiers from the enemy.  Of course schools and hospitals would have been blown up at some point in the course of all the events and civilians everywhere killed.  If only people, in this day and age, didn’t pay any of it any credence then half of it wouldn’t continue.  If instead of having announced as some event of importance it were just “more blockheads were fighting on the western front today, causing a nuisance and headache for all of us”, then it would stop.  But some people wanted it to continue.  The ones in power.  The ones at the top.  The prime minister and his minions and damn near most of all the leaders around the world. Sitting in their meetings smoking cigars and making up the “history” of the world as they went along, playing up to delusions and fairy-tale aspirations imprinted in their heads when they studied politics at university.  The bastards she thought.  A while back she had been given a leaflet on the street informing her that there was more slavery than ever before in the world, but you just didn’t hear about it.  It said that if you thought Hitler was bad enough, you should realise how many across the world were still committing genocide.  True? Probably.  She focussed on the screen again and the subject had changed.  What was this old, grey-faced man reading off the auto-cue now?


“We asked you to phone in and give us your opinions on the Muslim veil.  Should they be aloud to wear it in public spaces? Bars, restaurants…schools?”.  What on earth were they going on about?  Who cared!  It’s their business.  A national TV channel trying to elicit vapid twinges of racism.  Whatever would be next? She turned off the wretched machine and closed her eyes dismayed.  She was still tired but she didn’t want to fall asleep here.  There was buzzing everywhere; the radiator, the pipes clinking.  She felt as though she were inside a machine and were sinking into it on her bed, sinking into a world of metal and plastic and unreal sensations.  She got up, went downstairs and out the kitchen door into the cool night.  It was still very light at ten past seven.  She would go for a walk now and head over to the shops at eight.  She saw a bat fly past high above.  Wasn’t it too light for them? Apparently not that one.  When had she last seen a bat?  She couldn’t remember.  But they were beautiful like most animals. 


It was a pretty village Nidderwald.  Even in the city, disgusting grey concrete creating similarly coloured moods, there was still green, trees and grass and they stood out all the more for their beauty.  No one noticed them though or the vast expanse of sky, stretching away into infinity.  All the technology there was these days.  Planes and gliders, rockets even.  It wasn’t shared though.  It ought to be.  Why did it all end at school?  They ought all to be taught as scientists or something at an early age and then when they grew up the shuttles would be waiting and the planes and the submarines and then they could all explore and find the meaning of things.  Then they would value and feel valued and no one would take the petty fights seriously, rather they wouldn’t be there in the first place.  A cool breeze blew through her hair and she sat down on a bench.  It was a nice evening, the orange of a lantern.  She heard laughter some way away and turned her head to see the boy and some girls turning onto the street.  It was only half seven and she didn’t want to be seen by them yet but then she just decided to wait there.  If he was serious then he would stop and say hello.  The laughter and chat grew louder and still he hadn’t called out.  Was he just going to ignore her now after all that?  Oh well, she wasn’t interested in him anyway.  They were getting closer and she looked at him after he said,


 “Oh so you came out then?”


Harriet just looked at him and the two girls on either side.  They were thin things caked in make-up and looked a good two years younger than her.  “Awwright” one said.


“These” began Crepes, “are Shelly and Kat.  This is Harrie, I said she should come to Sara’s tonight”.  The girls looked at her with half smiles that, whether taken to show either appreciation or hate, were just muscle reflexes and to Harriet was extended the same benignity that they were feeling to all else as they staggered against the older boys arms.  “Cool” said the one called Shelly.  “We’re off to get rat-arsed!”  Harriet walked with them in silence as previous times the three had spent together were recounted, all of which were strikingly similar and included the words “drunk, bladdered and well-pissed” in their descriptions.  Crepes asked her a few formalities now and again but they bore on in relative silence before reaching the shop were a group of five other youths were waiting.  Harriet would have been nervous two years ago to approach a group of strangers but as she listened to the way they were greeted and the emergence of conversation she realised that in the truest sense of the word, they did not care.  Not about her and not about each other.  Not in that negative way of course, not necessarily a spiteful way but literally as a chair does not really contemplate the table with which it couples.  “What’s your name?” asked a dark haired girl there and she seemed more on Harri’s wave length. Harriet told her.


 “That’s a cool name.  I’m Sharl” the girl replied.  Crepes, who was eighteen, came out of the shop after fifteen minuets of hanging around with two bags dangling from his arms, clinking sounding loudly from within.  “Right” he said in his broad accent, “off to Sara’s then”. 


“He’s well-fit isn’t he?” a mousey haired girl said to Harriet.  “Yeah” she replied and in five minutes they reached the apparent house of this girl Sara.  Nidderwald was only just big enough to have village status and this area of the dwelling was considered the poor bit where the kid’s did worse at school and the adults were lay-abouts with low incomes.  Music was thumping from inside the house as they walked up the drive way and the door was suddenly flung open out of which a tall, skinny girl in a tiny dress emerged.  She flung her arms around the approaching Crepes and kissed him on the cheek.  Uncontained greetings were exchanged between them and after he went inside similar gestures were extended to the others following in behind, some more well-known than others.  “Who are you?” Sara asked with clear disdain as Harriet came to the door.  “Oh sorry” said Harriet, pleased with how uncaring she felt, “that guy told me to come, I’ll go though”. / Now Crepes was shouting something to the girl from in the hall, evidently informing her of his invited guest.  Sara turned away from her, leaving the door open, and said to Crepes, “Naughty bringing in people I don’t know” before turning out of Harriet’s sight and into the living room.  Harriet stared at Crepps before turning to walk away. “Harrie!” he called. “It’s all right, come on in.  Don’t be like that.  She’s just a bit moody is all”   She didn’t want to go home and it might be fun to talk to someone for a bit after all, but then it was clear the girl didn’t want her there.  What did she care?  At least she would make conversation whereas otherwise they would all get blind drunk and utter the mot basic grunts, amounting to a kind of commentary on the unfolding activities.  The girl appeared in the hallway again and gestured to Harriet that she would be tolerated and so she entered.  The living room was a mess with crisps already trodden into the carpet and empty bottles lying on the floor.  There were more people inside than she would have expected.  Girls and boys stood tangling tongues in the corners as others slurred words between gulps from brightly coloured bottles.  Harriet felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to see the dark-haired girl from before.  She smiled at Harriet, an understanding expression and Harriet grinned at her.  The girl asked her something but the raucous was too loud for her to hear and the girl pointed to the doorway leading to the hall.  They went through it and into the kitchen where more empty bottles and packets of food lay about the place, though the only other occupant was a boy of about ten.  He grinned at the girls before flashing himself via his loose jogging bottoms and disappearing up the stairs.  The girl, Sharl, laughed.  “That’s Sara’s little bro” she laughed, “pervert”.  Harriet smiled.


“It’s a bit boring I know” said Sharl, “just drinking like this, but it gets better as the night goes on.  Got your eyes on any boys?  I like that Dave.  Did you see him? He’s the one who was standing with Crepes in there.  Oohh, I wouldn’t mind his tongue between my legs”.  The statement amused Harriet and the two girls laughed.  “So have you ever had sex?” Sharl enquired.  Harriet didn’t know what to say.  Had she really?


“No” she said quietly.


“Really? Oh it’s really good with the right guy.  I’ve done it loads of times.  You’ve got to be careful though.  Sometimes you’re just messing with a boy and they think they can go further.  You know Crepes? He’s raped me before you know”.


“Really?” Harriet said, her mind elsewhere.


“yeah, well, like two weeks ago really.  I never said yes.  We were drunk and we was kissing and that and then we’re on the bed and he takes my pants down and…I don’t remember it too well, but I was drunk and he took advantage”. 


“You don’t seem very bothered about it” said Harriet.


“Well, I guess we was both drunk so I don’t know”. 


“But he didn’t force you did he?” she asked, “I mean he didn’t pin you down and-”


“No!” she giggled, “nothing like that. Come on, let’s go and get drunk.  It’s better when your drunk”.  She grabbed Harriet’s hand and lead her back into the living room.  Two new people had arrived but they appeared to be men in their thirties.  They were massive, all stocky with beer bellies and shaved heads.  They were dressed in striped shirts and their large, podgy faces gesticulated around at the drunken people half their age.  “Where are yer parents?” one boomed to the girl called Sara.  “Tenerife” she replied. 


“Didn’t you want to go?” asked a man who someone had referred to as Barry in a drunken passing.  “Nah, I don’t like them anyway.  I’d rather stay here.   You just come from town?”


“Yeah” said Barry.  “fucking nout going on tonight though so I thought I’d come down here seeing as you said you was having a party and that”.  The conversation continued and Harriet learnt Barry was a waiter in the same pub that Sara worked weekends as a waitress.  Twenty minutes later and the burly men left, having not caused the commotion Harriet had feared they might.  Looking around, a majority were now lying around looking sick and one boy was being so in the waste paper bin.  “That is rank” said Sara as she watched but made no move towards him.  Harriet had drunk nothing herself and she was glad for it.  Sara was eyeing her and then offered her a bottle.  Harry excepted the kindness and brought the orange liquid to her mouth.  It tasted foul but she drank it down.  Sara was smiling at her then and little bursts of laughter were escaping her lips.  Harriet felt oppressed suddenly and butterflies were coming into her stomach.  She noticed Sharl looking at her, a guilty smile across her face and she then turned to Sara exclaiming “that’s so mean, you shouldn’t have done that!”.  She turned back to Harriet and said “I’m sorry, oh god” and then she went out of the room and into the kitchen, her face red and giggling.  Harriet turned to face Sara wanting an explanation.  “That’ll teach you not to come where your not invited won’t it” she said maliciously.  “That weren’t liquor you drank, it came out of him bout half an hour ago” and she was pointing a fat boy passed out on the sofa.  Harriet wanted to vomit and dread descended round her before she realised that everyone was laughing at her.  Everyone and even Sharl had reappeared and was unrestrained.  People tapped pals on the shoulder at pointed at her, after which the tapped person would burst into course guffaws.  Tears began to stream down Harriet’s face.  They were tears of anger and her embarrassment wasn’t what it might have been.  She looked at the girl Sara who smiled broadly.  She wanted to turn and run away but a voice came clearly into her head.  It told her that she would be crying tonight and that she would wake up in the morning and cry again but that she would regret it all the more if she didn’t-


-Harriet curled up her fist and rammed it square into the girl’s nose while her eyes were cast down on the floor.  A huge gasp emitted from the crowd followed by whoops and laughter and as the girl tried to clamber from the floor Harriet kicked her hard in the stomach and turned to flee.  Jabs were suddenly coming into her sides, her ribs and hands tried to get hold of her hair, both girls and boys, but then she was out into the street and half running.  Tears burst down her cheeks, like the many fragments of glass from the bottle that was thrown by her side on the pavement as she cleared away.  She was through an alley way and soon back onto the village main street.  Walking down it briskly she saw the same man who she had seen the night before, staring in disbelief.  Harriet felt wetness on her chest and looked down to see she had become messier than realised.  Passing the man she saw him shake his head in disapproval.  Fucking bastard she thought.  Fucking horrible bastard she choked out between sobs.  She arrived back at her house and was though the door.  She flew into the living room where her parents turned from the TV.  They stared bewildered and Harriet flopped onto the arm chair opposite them.


“What’s happened now?” her mother said sternly.  Harriet didn’t need to tell them about the disgusting incident just taken place, but the time seemed right and she looked at her mother squarely in the eyes and said evenly, “yesterday I was raped.  I was out walking and a man came along and he raped me”.  Seconds passed as her parents exchanged glances.   Didn’t they believe her?  Tears welled and then Harriet burst into unrestrained moans before running upstairs.  “God” said Mr Spencer to his wife who didn’t know what to say.  Upstairs Harriet was in the bathroom shoving fingers down her throat to bring up the sick.