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A Walk in the Park

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Leah was lonely, not the sad kind of lonely where she thought about suicide or filling her home with stray cats, but lonely nonetheless. This time of the year with all the festivities only reminded her that she was alone, that there was nobody special in her life. At least she had work, she was kept busy and would return home tired and worn out, but it was time spent in the company of others. Weekends were long and tedious and Leah found them empty, she was constantly searching for ways to her time. All her friends were busy with husbands, partners and babies and Leah felt excluded from their lives.

Saturday morning was promising to be a mild day for December and by 9am Leah had completed all the domestic chores she had saved up hoping they would fill most of the morning, but the flat was already tidy and clean, so she was already at a loose end. Taking-a look at her online banking only served to add to the depression of the day, a trip to the shops was out of the question. But with a quick look out of the window she decided it was too nice a day to spend moping around the flat, so grabbing her warmest coat and bag she set out for a walk heading to the local park. Strange that living so close to this large park Leah had not yet ventured inside it, maybe that’s because it seemed to her you needed a baby to push or a dog to walk. The park seemed full of such people and the sound of excited children could soon be heard. At least she would fill her lungs with fresh air.

However, the further into the park she ventured the more secluded it seemed to become, it was so peaceful, the thick trees, the winter leaves on the ground, the world seemed a beautiful place. Nature, thought Leah, supressing a giggle and recalling her old flatmate who she once believed to be a tree hugger, who ate nuts and organic this and that, she had been the butt of their circle of friend’s jokes, that is until the day she came home and announced that she had met a rich sugar daddy and was moving to his place in Jamaica- well nobody saw that one coming. Those were the days, young and carefree, time to party, that is until one by one all her friends married and she was left on the shelf.

Just how long and how far Leah had walked whilst lost deep in thoughts of the past she had no idea, carried along with the memories, good and bad. But, her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of footsteps, which seemed to be coming closer, turning she saw a young man approaching, he looked normal, but why would a young man be walking alone in such a remote spot. Leah felt vulnerable and panic set-in, why she could not say, this isolated spot maybe or was it that she sensed danger, Leah had walked past the point that most walkers did and she had not seen any other people for a while.

 

The young man seemed to gain on her and as he closed in she looked him in the eye and saw everything she need to know, all hope that he had like her just wandered off the pathways were unfounded. Maybe he just wanted her purse and mobile and she had no intention of fighting him for them.  But there was something in his face that made her realise this was not a mugging.

*

In the early evening of that same day Mark Ross, walked his dog Rufus through the park as he did every evening, it was almost dark and it was getting colder, so he had no intentions of hanging about, besides he was going out later so he needed to get home and get ready for a night on the town.  Mark threw the stick for Rufus, for what he hoped would be the last time that day, he whistled a short-time later for Rufus to return, he never and Mark cursed the stupid dog and knew he would have to go in search of him.  After a brief search, he found his dog sniffing over what looked like the body of a young woman, feeling faint with the sight he quickly pulled his mobile out of his jacket and dialled for the emergency services. He had to stay where he was until they arrived, he just hoped that they would hurry. The woman was covered in blood, so much blood it was hard to see where it was all coming from. Mark had kneeled close to the woman and he kept talking to her, telling her that help was on the way, but, she lay there motionless, barely alive. Eventually, she was taken away in an ambulance and Mark spoke to the police.

Mark never knew why he went to the hospital a day later to see this woman, she was a stranger, but he had found her and he just had to know that she survived, she had looked so young and helpless, how could anyone do such a thing to another human being.

The bright lights hurt Leah’s eyes, she was unable to focus and she yearned again for oblivion, it wasn’t just the pain or the injuries, it was the memory of the attack, on waking she believed it had only just happened. But, the nurses reassured her she was safe now. All Leah could think about was the knife as it slashed at her body, not just once but she was sure several times. Did she scream and call-out for help? She could not recall, she knew she had pleaded for her life. At first, Leah had tried to fight back, she just wanted to get away, but he had pinned her to the ground. The attack seemed to go on forever, and then there was another memory, but she pushed it away, unable to deal with it right now. Then Leah recalled a voice, a man’s voice, not her attackers, he kept on telling her to hold on, that help was on its way, that part was foggy.

A WPC sat outside her room, she came in and tried to speak to Leah, but, Leah kept drifting off and she heard a nurse tell her to wait, that the pain killers would not wear off for hours yet. Leah was not sure she could re-live the attack, sit and tell the police what she remembered, it was all too much, so she slept instead, but she knew she could not sleep forever.

It took over a week before Leah had the strength to sit up and tell the police about the attack, they told her she had been lucky to be alive, the knife had missed all-of her vital organs, but she would have scars and she had lost a lot of blood. They had a suspect, he had been questioned, although he did not admit guilt, he could not give an alibi for the time of the attack, he was a rapist out on parole. Leah would have to identify him as soon as she was able.

 

Mark became a regular visitor to Leah’s bedside, they spoke about everything except the attack, it seems that Mark knew some of her old friends and like Leah he too had been left behind by most of his mates. His nights in town were with the occasional mate who managed to get a night’s pass for good behaviour. He had a flat in the block a few streets from Leah’s. Over her stay in hospital Leah and Mark became good friends, he seemed to understand her. She was afraid to be alone in her flat but Mark had already offered to sleep on her sofa for the first few nights. She left hospital re-assured.

 

Two years later:

 

Mark and Leah are walking in a park a long way from the one they both used to live near, they are pushing, Joshua, their three-month old baby, he is sleeping. It is a Saturday and they intend to go shopping later, and maybe have a coffee in town too.

Michael Fischer was jailed for eight years for sexual assault and attempted murder, whilst in jail he committed suicide, he was twenty-seven years old.

 

THE END.

I enjoy writing short stories and poetry, I enter lots of competitions and have been highly commended on many occasions. I hope one day to have one of my novels in print.

I am 60 years old and studied Theology and religious Studies at University as a mature student. My interests besides writing are criminology and reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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