Here’s a story by my sister, Sally Stackhouse.
“Oh, to be in the fresh air, totally free, wild abandonment, imagination running riot, the smell of the ferns, the tactile touch of the bark of the trees – unbelievably therapeutic. Lisa knew it wouldn’t last. She would have to pay the price later. That was the penalty of a few of hours of freedom just to be herself. Until then she would enjoy every moment, savour every smell, listen to every bird song, every rustle in the undergrowth, the crackle of dried leaves under her feet which were snug and warm in her thermal socks and lace up walking boots. Note to self: wear longer jeans or trousers to protect her calves, just a tad chilly in that area.
Lisa walked home, smiling to herself. A walk really did do wonders for the soul. She came to the edge of the village and started along the narrow path towards their cottage. She was engrossed in her plans for supper and all the domestic chores that would have to be done tomorrow – or the next day, it didn’t matter when so long as the kitchen, bathroom and living areas were clean and tidy.
There she was again. The young woman leaning on the garden gate, a camera to her eye. Lisa shivered, the goosebumps she could feel on her arms through her jumper and fleece lined jacket. There was just something not quite right about the girl, she was always there, snapping away but never seemed to move past the gate.
‘Hello.’ Came a tentative call.
‘Um, hello.’ Lisa replied. That was a first. She’d never spoken before. Lisa thought maybe she should find out a bit more, be a bit more understanding. She stopped a little distance away from the gate, still aware of social distancing even though they were outside.
‘What’s your name, my love?’
‘My name is Lisa. What’s yours?’ Lisa smiled in what she hoped was a friendly, non-threatening way.
‘Eleanor,’ came the whispered reply.
‘It’s very nice to meet you, Eleanor.’
Eleanor smiled back at Lisa. Then came a surprising request.
‘Can you let me out please?’
Eleanor went to open the gate. The latch was easy and the gate swung open on its hinges.
‘There you go, Eleanor.’
‘Thank you,’ came the reply.
Lisa waited but Eleanor didn’t move. She seemed to be stuck and couldn’t get past the boundary fence even though the gate was open. Lisa moved towards Eleanor who shrank back almost cowering in fear.
‘I’m not going to hurt you. Take my hand and let me help you through.’
A few more minutes of cajoling and coaxing and they’d moved half-a-dozen steps eventually stepping on to the pavement. As Eleanor placed her feet down, the trembling Lisa could feel through holding her hand ceased. Success.
A call came from the cottage. The fear and dismay that crossed Eleanor’s face was pitiful to see. She turned tail and quickly scurried indoors.
Lisa stood there quite dumbstruck at this turn of events. As she made her way home, she took note of the house number. Eleanor was a candidate for Social Services to get the help she needed. Lisa promised herself she would look up the number and phoned the adult services helpline.”
Word count: 552