This story was written in response to Laura M Bailey’s challenge. See Link:
You may also wish to read my previous 3-way challenge story because this one follows it:
I would like to thank Laura for introducing me to a new word – Boondocks – which, in case you think I was being very rude with my title, means a wilderness, ‘out in the sticks’ and what my Aussie friends call ‘the outback’ or ‘ Woop Woop’.
Caught in the Boondocks
This was Jenny’s first visit to the United States and everywhere she went she gawked. Arriving at the Airport on the outskirts of Washington DC, she’d flown over the city, she hadn’t seen much though, there was a fair amount of cloud.
Aunt Emily and Uncle Frank were waiting as Jenny wandered out of the Customs gate. Uncle Frank wore dungarees over a checked shirt. He looked every bit the country bumpkin. Aunt Emily wore a bright yellow dress, that complimented her long brown hair. She rushed up to Jenny and gave her a huge hug. The tears came to her then. She couldn’t hold them back. Aunt Emily’s hugs were so like her mothers.
“It’s good to have you stay with us, dear Jenny. How was your flight from England?” Aunt Emily sounded like her mother too. Of course, she had a bit on an accent, but she’d been living in the states for ten years, since she’d met and married Uncle Frank who’d been serving in the US Air Force stationed in Mildenhall, Suffolk. Jenny had been a flower girl at their wedding but as she’d only been four years old, she had little memory of it.
Aunt Emily had come over for Christmas or Easter a number of times over the years, but she’d only seen Uncle Frank once growing up.
“It was fine thanks. We had some turbulence over the Atlantic, I didn’t like that much, but apart from feeling a bit fragile underneath, It was OK.” Jenny replied.
They walked her over to their parked station wagon. Uncle Frank jumped up behind the wheel, then Jenny sat in the middle seat with Aunt Emily taking the right-hand passenger seat. As she sat down, Jenny couldn’t help smelling a strong smell of dog. She’d grown up with Cats and was not at all sure she was a dog kind of person. ‘Oh, well’ Jenny thought ‘I knew this would take some adjusting to.’
“Can we drive through Washington DC, Uncle? I didn’t get much of a look from the plane.” Jane asked hopefully.
“Why, girl, that’s plum in the other direction. Heck, it’s gonna take nearly two hours to drive home as it is without wasting time sightseeing.” Uncle Frank said rather gruffly.
“Don’t worry dear,” Interjected Aunt Emily “I’ll take you into Washington next weekend, how’s that?”
Jenny nodded solemnly.
“You’d be better off taking her to Richmond instead.” Uncle Frank said. He was a Virginian boy, born and bred and had all the prejudices that came with it, though Jenny would not have understood at all.
As they drove along they passed open farmland and wooded hills. The leaves of the trees were turning golden and red as autumn fast approached. It was a beautiful palette of autumnal colour. Jenny enjoyed the scenery immensely. After a while, they arrived at the town of Woodstock. Jenny had heard of a famous festival that had been called Woodstock but apparently, that had been in New York state somewhere and not here at all. It looked like a pretty little town though.
Driving through, Uncle Frank waved at a few of the people he knew then they pulled off the main road and drove down a rougher track for about twenty minutes before pulling up outside a wooden farmhouse, painted cream with white highlights around the windows and the verandah, or porch. Jenny thought it looked quite charming in the late afternoon sunshine. She heard dogs barking in the distance, clearly, they’d heard the vehicle pull up and wanted to greet their owners.
As Jenny got out of the car, she turned and saw a rough track disappearing off into the trees.
Curiosity got the better of her and she asked: “Where does that path go?”
Uncle Frank replied “Oh, you don’t want to go up that way. That leads to the boondocks.”
Jenny stared “I beg your pardon?” she asked, puzzled.
Aunt Emily laughed and grabbed her hand. “It’s just an expression, dear. It means wild country. Uncle Frank’s right though, you don’t want to go up there.”
Jenny thought she was already in the wild country. She grew up in Suffolk and was used to fields and woods but this looked like the wilderness went on forever. How wild must it be down there then?
Jenny was an adventurous child and she couldn’t wait to explore her new surroundings.
After being introduced to the dogs, who had obediently sat patiently and each gave her their paw to shake, she realised that well-trained dogs were very nice indeed.
She changed her clothes from the more formal clothes her mother had insisted she wore for travelling into something more suitable for country living.
Then she ran out to find adventure. One of the dogs, a beagle type hound called Baxter, followed her, wagging his tail.
After exploring the yard and the outbuilding filled with farm machinery, Jenny found herself at the start of that mysterious path.
Despite the warnings, she started out walking with Baxter in tow.
As she turned a corner and the farm disappeared behind her, she felt a change in the air. It had been a lovely warm afternoon, but suddenly the temperature seemed to drop. The wind blew through the trees depositing several brown leaves across the path. She took one more step forward and she could feel someone watching her from the bushes. It did not feel like a friendly onlooker.
Baxter began barking at something unseen down the path ahead of them. Jenny took another step forward but Baxter refused to follow. He started to howl like only a beagle could do.
Jenny stood paralysed in fear.
Suddenly Uncle Frank was there and grabbed her in his arms.
“Didn’t I tell you not to go down here. You won’t last long around here unless you listen. It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened to you if you’d kept on going. If Baxter hadn’t warned me.”
Jenny burst into tears.
“There, there. You’re safe now, I caught you just in time.”
As Uncle Frank led her back to the farmstead, Jenny turned and saw a pair of red eyes glaring at her from the darkness.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 17/September/2018
FOWC with Fandango — Fragile