I finished the first draft of this story two years ago and have been stuck on revising it ever since. Recently I’ve managed to get out of this block with the help of some coloured post-its and a brand new word document in which I’m re-writing it entirely. I’m quite pleased with how it’s going so far because I’ve been writing every day and it hasn’t turned into a chore yet.
Please bear in mind, however, that this is a re-written version of the original story, with added elements and character development, which means it is still a rough draft. Any spelling/grammar mistakes will be corrected once I’ve finished the whole thing.
Saturday 31st April, 1865.
Name: John Nathaniel Cross.
Occupation: apprentice chandler.
Relationship: claims to be a friend of the victim, though this is doubtful given his social status.
“I was at wood’s edge with my brother and the other kids when we saw Dar- Miss Sullivan, walking into the woods with a basket. The strawberries were all at the edge, and it’s not right for a girl to go out in the woods on her own, so I tried to call her back but she couldn’t hear me. So I left my brother with my friend Susan and went after her. Once we got into the woods she stepped off the path and I had trouble following her, and she still couldn’t hear me, so I stopped shouting and that’s when I realised it had gone all calm and quiet-like, no birds, no animals, not even the wind, nothing. And the light going down like it was sunset even though it weren’t two yet. It gave me the shivers, it did, and I wondered if I should just go back but I didn’t want her to get hurt, and besides, what with all the straying off the path we’d been doing, I didn’t know if I could find my way back on my own, so I kept going after her, trying to catch up. It were strange as well, sometimes it felt like I could almost touch her, but she still wouldn’t turn around when I called her name, like she was sleep-walking maybe, and when I tried to – to grab her arm, like, wake her up – I’d reach out and suddenly she’d been further away, and speed up to get away from me. I tried telling her it was me, she knows me since we were kids. But either she couldn’t hear or she… I dunno. It was like that time that magician came into Edgewood and did that thing with the necklace where he waved it in front of Lucy’s eyes and she did everything he told her to. Hippotism? I don’t know what you call it, but it reminded me of that. So I thought maybe someone had done that to her and told her to go into the forest, but that didn’t explain why it was so dark this early in the afternoon, or the quiet, or why I couldn’t catch up to her. She seemed to be going somewhere, not just wandering like. So I followed her, and it got darker and colder and quieter, and by the time we got to this clearing it was like midwinter. She didn’t seem cold, though I was shivering, and then I started thinking of ghosts and things, and I know it’s stupid, but you try following a friend into the woods and see how you feel when it goes all dark and cold and quiet, and she won’t turn around, and you can’t catch up, I bet you’d start thinking about ghosts too! So I wondered if this was the ghost of someone else, but it looked so much like her, even though I hadn’t seen her face close up yet, and she was wearing the clip I – I’d given her one, a while back, when we were still kids, and she still wears it sometimes, well she was wearing that, so it had to be her. And I started thinking, is she dead and this is her ghost? And if it is, where’s she going? So I was quite scared at this point, so when she stopped in the middle of the clearing I hung back and watched, and then, out from behind a tree steps this… boy. I didn’t know him, he wasn’t from Edgewood, that’s for sure. I don’t think I’ve seen him around here at all, I’d remember, ’cause there was something off about him. About my age, I think, black hair and really white skin, and green eyes, he looked like a noble only he’s wearing common clothes, a lot like mine actually, just a workman’s shirt and breeches. The shirt was white though, and they looked new. How tall? No taller than me, maybe a few inches shorter, and skinny-like. I thought that if I had to take him out it wouldn’t be too hard.
He didn’t approach her yet, but she seemed to come out of her daze a bit and looked a bit flustered – she turned her head to look about and I was sure it was her then because I could see her face. He spoke to her, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying, nor what she replied, apart from that she wanted to be home by sundown, and he nodded. Then he held out his hand, and – I swear, if I’d have known I’d have jumped out and pulled her back, I’d have beat him to the ground, I should’ve – but I didn’t know, I thought I’d follow them for a bit more just in case, try and get her to notice me now she was awake, so to speak, so I just watched while he held out his hand and she took it, and then he – he – [the witness is overcome with a regret which, to me, seems genuine.] He – spun – with her, like a dance step, or something, and just then he looked at me, and smiled – the bastard smiled – and then they were… gone.