#21 The Girl in the Park

by Tracy Davidson

She was clearly upset. When I'd passed her earlier she looked pale, eyes swollen, shoulders shaking with the effort to suppress sobs. I said nothing then, assuming she would be embarrassed at a strange man approaching her in that condition.

I settled on a bench across the pond from her. Reading my paper I glanced up occasionally to check if she was still there. She answered her mobile once, mercifully cutting off the James Blunt ring-tone. The call upset her further. I couldn't make out the words, but her tone was unmistakeable. When she hung up she was wailing.

Other people, women mostly, walked past. Not one of them stopped to speak, to comfort her in some way. They hurried by, deliberately averting their eyes to avoid catching hers. I was shocked. So much for sisterhood.

She stopped wailing, blowing her nose into a sodden tissue. I couldn't ignore her. The girl needed somebody.

I walked around the pond and sat on the other end of her bench. I made some ridiculous comment - can't remember what - but it did the trick. She even managed a smile.

And that was how our relationship started. I say relationship. It's a rather one-sided affair. She's been in my cellar for a week. Whatever she was so upset about that day - I neither know nor care - must seem very inconsequential now. God knows, I've given her things to really cry about.

I love vulnerable women.


C. Sonberg Larson said...

Wow! Wasn't ready for that ending. Really twisted, gripping,and creepy.
Nice Job!

Jonathan Riley said...

The writing's pretty good here but I'm confused by the story itself. At the beginning the narrator seems genuinely concerned about the woman on the bench. Then the final line suggests he could care less, or that he somehow gets off at the vulnerability so the first line doesn't work. I'd suggest that you make the narrator believe that in his mind he's helping his "victims" saving them or liberating them as opposed to taking advantage of them.

Lisa Pellegrini said...

This story is VERY emotionally resonating, considering that these kinds of things really (and sadly) do happen and we have been seeing it on the news lately -- deranged men kidnapping girls and keeping them prisoner in their basement. At first, the reader is led to believe (purposely, I think) that this man is concerned about the girl and wondering what is troubling her. But in the last couple paragraphs, we realize what his true intentions were all along, and it is like being hit in the face with ice-cold water. Tracy, you really do a tremendous job making me feel sorry for that poor girl, and the last line is priceless -- how this sicko just lives to prey on vulnerable women. It is also excellent the way you had it all start out so innocently, the way he met her, and the way he got her to trust him. One of my favorites so far, not because of the subject matter, but because it is so realistic. Wonderful job!

Peter said...

Loved this and the way you lead the reader down the garden path and then trip them up into the dirt.