A door slammed, a cry could be heard. Tears of a young girl? Cries of an animal? No definitely a young girl.
A shout: “Let go. Let go of me now.”
Angry and upset, Katie ran away.
She stumbled, sobbing, into the garden, across the weed infested patio, down the two steps, bordered with fading Lavender and across the scruffy lawn, heading south towards shade from the fierce July sun.
Not far – but to somewhere she knew was a sanctuary, a haven, a place she was safe.
Pushing aside the overgrown laurel bush at the end of their sprawling garden, Katie crept in.
School holidays had only just started with six weeks of this stretching ahead. Katie sighed as she knelt. Twigs, leaves and logs greeted her and she knew she was safe here because her friend Tom was with her.
“Why are you upset, Katie?” Tom asked, pressing her shoulder gently.
“Them,” was the sniffled reply. “Always them.”
She stretched her arm out to shift branches to see if she was being checked on, but no, they didn’t care. Katie was gone, they’d be saying, she’ll be back when she’s hungry, ignore her.
Tom tapped her on the arm.
“Guess what I found today, Katie?”
“I don’t know. Tell me.”
“No have a guess. Please.”
Katie looked around her, indulging her friend Tom by spying on what could be obvious finds.
“A hedgehog? A cat?”
She knew he’d brought both before to their den but he shook his head.
“An injured pigeon?” trying a new guess.
“No, wwwrong again.”
Katie sensed activity in the garden and pulled herself and Tom deeper into the undergrowth where she could not be spotted.
Tom whispered, “Try again.”
Katie waited. She had a real sixth sense – she knew something was happening on the lawn and felt she could no longer play trivial guessing games.
She raised her finger to her lips and stared at Tom, with his matted hair, tanned complexion and greasy skin. He really did need a bath, but she hadn’t the heart to tell him, as she knew he was sensitive to his looks. She stayed quiet. Footsteps approached and the laurel bush moved fractionally as they sat with their breaths held.