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Rag Doll
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TITLE (EDIT)
Rag Doll
DESCRIPTION
A day in the life of Marius...
[999 words]
AUTHOR
Jan Lappalainen
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Feedback greatly appreciated
[February 2007]
AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (1)
Wolves In Silver Point (Short Stories) Tyler faces terror at his farm [5,654 words]
Rag Doll
Jan Lappalainen

The rag-doll was wedged between two of the lower branches of the ash tree. It sat there with legs protruding, its arms folded on its lap. The doll was tied to the tree by the waist with a thin piece of rope. That – and the fact the doll was exhibiting stains which would soon develop into growths of mould – suggested it had been there for a long time.

Marius walked out of the school building with down-cast eyes. He was small for a boy of twelve, and it was emphasised even more by the coat he wore. It didn’t look like children’s clothing at all; it rather resembled a sailor’s great coat. His brown hair was combed painfully over his scull, a ritual his mother repeated every morning with zealous precision, and his patched rucksack was strapped tightly over his small shoulders. He had a sinking feeling of dread, which emanated from the bottom of his stomach. He had seen them as he pushed open the large doors of the building.
    The three boys lounged at the bicycle stand, cigarettes casually hanging from the corners of their mouths. One of the boys sat on the bicycle stand, while the others stood facing him, illuminating the hierarchy within the trio.
Will Arnott was the leader of the pack. He was shorter than the other two, with red hair and freckles. While his exterior spoke cool and calculative, there was a restless intensity in his eyes, like something one might expect to find in a caffeine addict deprived of his morning espresso. Ralph Stokes was all cool; he was the son of an industrial mogul, and his act had been polished to a shine since early childhood. His well-rehearsed demeanour served to mask his banal personality and lack of imagination. Charlie Burns stood out clearly from the two other boys. There was no need for posing and acting when it came to Charlie. He stood a head taller than most boys his age, and the width of his shoulders was that of a full-grown man. He was the enforcer of the group.
Marius tried to make himself as inconspicuous as he could when he went to retrieve his bicycle, but the attempt was doomed. Nothing catches the attention of boys like Will Arnott, Ralph Stokes and Charlie Burns more keenly than the fear of a smaller child. It’s that sixth sense that enables vultures to pick out wounded animals.
    So as these things go, Marius ended up lying on his back in the dirt. Charlie towered above him with a grin on his face, while Will stood with an arm slung over Charlie’s shoulder. Ralph was in the background holding Charlie’s cigarette; it would be returned after the beating had taken place.
“Why are you wearing a blanket shitface?” Will said, flicking his cigarette at Marius.
“Yeah shitface!” Charlie repeated.
Marius had been through these rituals before, and knew that no reply would spare him the coming humiliation. Charlie pulled him up by his collar and spat in his face “Answer shitface!”

“Let him go!” The voice was clear and strong. She stood with legs firmly planted, and her hands on her hips. She looked like a beacon of light with her long blonde hair falling loosely over her shoulders. “Let him go Charlie!” she commanded.
Charlie looked like some sort of pre-historic man, with his jaw hanging slack and his eyes dull with incomprehension. He let Marius go, and it seemed to have a demoralizing effect on the others. Ralph slipped away unnoticed, while Will made a desperate attempt to save his pride.
“Stay out of this Evie,” he said, trying to sound confident and commanding.
Evie stomped up to Will. She had to stand on her toes to be able to look him in the eye, but it was obvious she had the upper hand.
“You’d better run off home Will Arnott,” she said. “You wouldn’t want everyone here to see you get beaten by a girl would you?” Will staggered back with eyes wide, crimson stains spreading across his cheeks. His eyes darted wildly from side to side, realizing that a crowd had gathered around them. “C’mon Charlie!” he hissed before stalking away, Charlie trotting obediently at his heels.
“You ok?” Evie asked Marius as they moved to get their bikes.
“Y-Yes,” he replied.
“Don’t mind those Idiot’s,” she said with a smile “they’ll still be hanging around here when they’re thirty!” Marius offered a her a timid smile.
They cycled together. It took about 20 minutes for Evie to reach her house; a large white house, with a backyard overlooking the woods.
“Well, this is where I live,” she said as they stopped. “I’ll see you at school, Marius.”
His eyes quickly darted to the ground as they met hers, “O-ok.”
He sped off as she entered through the gates to her house, looking after him with a smile.

Marius cycled up the hill to the place. Here he had to leave his bike, but he covered it with dead branches and leaves so that it wouldn’t be noticed. He was a very clever little boy. He always received cuts and bruises walking through the woods, but it didn’t deter him. He wouldn’t get lost. He knew the place so well. The ash tree stood surrounded by birches, so it was easy for him to pick out. He sighed as he sat down next to the tree, and started rummaging through his rucksack.
“You’ve kept a good eye on her haven’t you?” he said.
The rag doll smiled its permanent smile in reply. Marius produced a pair of old binoculars and lifted them to his eyes.
“I’ll bring you company soon.” he said in a soft voice.
He didn’t need to scan the area. He knew the place so well. He smiled as he saw the white wooden house through the binoculars; a pink bicycle was chained to a pole in the backyard.

 

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE
© 2006 Jan Lappalainen
STORYMANIA PUBLICATION DATE
January 2007
NUMBER OF TIMES TITLE VIEWED
1245
 

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