The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
Rachael In The Park
I can’t exactly remember the first time I noticed her. It was probably after I had moved into my new apartment near the park. It was a great view and a safe neighborhood, but I didn’t realize she would be coming along with the deal. It wasn’t until about the eighth or ninth time I saw her in the park that I realized how strange it was that I kept seeing her there.
I assumed she was homeless and living in the park, but she didn’t look like it. She had clear, pale skin, bright blue eyes, and straight, clean, dark brown hair. Her clothing looked more rugged than she did. She wore an old t-shirt that was probably once a bright orange, but whose color was more like a watered-down glass of orange juice. Her jeans were full of holes and looked a bit scruffy from sitting in dirt. She didn’t seem to have any kind of shoes either, but her feet didn’t look dirty.
Most days, I’d see her walking around the park, aimless but content. Some days, I’d see her resting under a tree. Other days, she’d be standing there and staring off into the distance. Most days, she’d rarely move from the spot she was in unless someone got near her. She never talked to anyone, but she never looked lonely. It was like she was closed-off in a circle, and if anyone crossed a line into it, she’d have to keep them out.
I didn’t know what to think of her. I tried pointing her out to my friends, but no one seemed to think much about her, either. Even so, I wondered whom she was and why she was always in the park. I started to make up stories about her to try and give her some depth and dimension. It was mostly a way to pass time while I quietly ate breakfast before work, but soon, it became a game that I was looking forward to playing.
For the mysterious girl, I decided to name her Rachael. The night before I named her, I had watched Blade Runner with some friends, and I sort of saw a resemblance between her and Sean Young’s character. I think if she tied her hair up and smoked, she’d look just like the Rachael from that movie. I soon found the name stuck, so I always called her that.
I had all these ideas about who this Rachael was, and I tried to come up with as many as I could each day. One day, she was a traveling musician who was stranded in town and trying to save money so she could go back home. Another day, she was a gardener working for the Parks department and the clothes she wore were her work clothes. She’s a criminal laying low, a ghost who died in the park half a century ago, a female Tarzan who was raised by squirrels and robins in the park, and other similar silly ideas.
I played this game for about a year before I finally had the chance to speak with her. I was in the park jogging one weekend afternoon. I had been convinced to start jogging for my health, and I started to jog through the park in hopes of finding Rachael. For the first few weeks, I didn’t see her. It was like I could only see Rachael from my apartment window and never if I was in the park. I started jogging more frequently in hopes of seeing her, but she was never around. Even if I saw her from my window and immediately ran to the park, she’d be gone before I could find her.
It wasn’t until this day that she finally came to see me. I had jogged around the park for nearly an hour, and took a rest on a bench near the restrooms. As I sat there, drinking water and catching my breath, I had no idea she was slowly approaching me.
“Are you having a nice day?” I heard her speak.
I turned around and saw her standing behind the bench. She was wearing the same t-shirt and jeans as normal, although she was now wearing a pair of purple sunglasses. The lenses looked slightly scratched. She had a small smile on her face.
“Pardon?” I asked.
“Are you having a nice day?” she asked again, her voice calm and sweet.
“Oh, yeah. I am.”
“That’s good. I’d hope you’d be having a good one today.”
Rachael slowly walked over and placed her hand on the back of the bench. Looking up at her, I was feeling slightly intimidated. I was curious if she knew whom I was or that I had been looking for her.
“Why do you run through the park?” she asked.
“Why do you run through the park?” she repeated. “I see people do that all the time, but I never understood why.”
“It’s for exercise. You know, to stay healthy.”
“Oh, I see now.”
I raised an eyebrow. I started to wonder if there was something missing with this girl. She didn’t seem to know what jogging was or why anyone would do it. Something was really off about her, and I wasn't sure if I should stay near her for much longer.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Who are you?” I asked back.
“Could you tell me first?” she said.
Crap. Maybe she was onto the fact that I had been watching her all this time. That was highly unlikely since my apartment was several stories up, but maybe she had seen me peeking out a few times.
“Why don’t you tell me whom you think I am?” I said.
“Why?” she asked.
Even though she had sunglasses on, I could tell she was slightly confused by that. Maybe she was a lot more innocent than I thought.
“It’s a game,” I said. “You give several ideas on who you think I am, then I’ll do the same for you.”
“Okay,” she said.
She put her hand to her chin and fell silent for a few moments. She then spoke.
“You live outside the park,” she began. “You are comfortable where you live, but you need something to pass the time. You have companionship and direction, but aren’t sure what to do with any of that. Thus, you started running in hopes something would happen.”’
She stared at me. Her smile had gotten wider, as if she was proud of her answer. My eyes quickly darted around.
“Um, yeah. That’s about right.”
Rachael chuckled to herself. “Great. Now, tell me who you think I am.”
“Are you homeless?” I asked.
“What’s homeless?” she asked.
“Do you have a home? You know, a place where you live.”
“I live here.”
“So you’re homeless.”
“This is my home.”
“A park is not a home.”
“But I live here.”
I realized we could keep asking who’s on first base, but I moved on.
“You were traveling, but got stuck here,” I added.
“No. I was always here.”
“Always in the park?”
“Since you were born?”
“What about your parents?” I asked.
“What are parents?” she asked.
Something was really off about this girl. Maybe she was crazy, or maybe she was the Tarzan of my neighborhood park, but this was getting strange.
“Well, who raised you?” I asked, getting worried.
“No. I just sort of…appeared,” she said.
I shook my head. “But didn’t anyone notice you here and try to help you?”
She shook her head. “I didn’t need help. I had everything I needed here.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Rachael looked up and then around the area. I tried to follow her gaze, but I couldn’t find any one thing she would be focusing on.
“I’ll show you,” she said. “Come back to this spot tonight.”
“You’ll see,” she said.
She turned around and walked away. I watched her disappear behind a tree before I got up and jogged away from the spot. I went back home and tried to think about this. Rachael, as I could tell, was far more out there than I had assumed. It was probably dangerous to be close to her or to go back to the park that night. It’s bad enough going into a city park at night, but something about my conversation with Rachael made me even more worried. How could someone just live their entire life in a park?
Despite these concerns, I still went to the park that night. I don't know why, but even with my worries, I still felt bad if I didn't show up. Rachael didn’t give an exact time for our meetup, but I went early, just in case. As I sat there, I thought about everything that could happen. Maybe she had an army of homeless people to mug me. Maybe she was really a ghost or something creepy and would try to kill me. I had all these thoughts rushing through my head, and even though each one kept telling me to leave, I remained on that bench, waiting for a sign from her.
After a few hours, she appeared, still wearing the same clothes as always and wearing the same smile on her face.
“Hello,” she curtly said.
“Um, hi,” I replied.
Rachael smiled and walked over to me. She reached out her hand.
“Come. I’ll let you in.”
I slowly reached my hand out, letting her take it. She grabbed me and pulled me off the bench. We began to walk into the nearby grove of trees, and soon, we were far from the lights of the pathway. I started to get scared. I had placed all this importance on some weird girl, and now, it was possibly leading me to my doom. Even then, I still couldn’t bring myself to wrench my hand free and turn back. I let Rachael lead me further and further into the park.
It was then I realized we had been walking too long. All my time jogging around the park had given me a good idea of how large it was and how long it would take to walk from one end to another. We should have reached the edge of the park after about five minutes, but we had been walking for almost fifteen. The trees began to multiply around us as we got further into the grove.
“Hey, where are we?” I finally asked.
“We’re in the park,” Rachael said. “You know that.”
“But the park isn’t this big,” I replied. “How are we still walking through it?”
“I don’t know,” she told me.
I finally stopped walking, forcing Rachael to stop. “What do you mean?”
Rachael looked and me and smiled. “It’s always been like this. Come on, just a little further.”
She continued to walk, and I was soon pulled along. I had no idea how this was happening, and I was starting to get more and more uneasy. All my realistic theories about Rachael were getting shot down one by one, leaving only the fantastic ones. Maybe she was leading me to Hell. Maybe she was leading me to some fairy kingdom or secret troll village. Maybe it was all an illusion and we have been walking in circles the whole time.
Finally, the trees cleared, and we found ourselves in an opening. Before us lay a large lake, stretching far past the horizon and completely still. It was a clear night, so the moon and all the stars were reflected in the lake, as if we were standing on the edge of the world, Shel Silverstein style.
“I…I don’t…” I stuttered as Rachael let go of my hand.
“Welcome to my home,” she said.
She began to walk along the edge of the lake. I rubbed my forehead and groaned slightly.
"Where did this lake come from?” I asked. “How did we walk to it when this park is in the middle of the city?”
Rachael looked back at me. “I don’t understand your question. This lake was always here. It was always in this city. No one else has found it but me.”
Rachael walked further along the edge of the lake, and I hurried to catch up to her. As we walked, we came upon a large pile near the side of the lake. As I got closer, I saw that it was a large pile of garbage and other objects. There were food containers, discarded clothing, old toys, and other objects that had been thrown out.
“Things people leave in the park end up here,” Rachael said. “It’s where I get food, clothes, and other strange things. Everything I ever needed was here.”
Rachael walked around the pile as I continued to stare at it.
“I don’t get it. How is this possible?” I asked. “How can there-”
“You know, you really don’t have to know,” she told me. “I never found the need to ask, so I just let it be.”
I walked over to Rachael. She was now standing by a small tent made out of an old blanket, propped up by sticks.
“Do you live in there?” I asked her.
“No, I just sleep in there,” she said.
“Is that a joke?”
“What’s a joke?”
She stared at me. She really didn’t understand what I was saying.
“It’s not important,” I said. “So why are you showing me all this?”
Rachael walked up to me, continuing to smile. She was getting closer to me, and I felt my heart start to beat faster. She leaned close, looking up at me.
“I knew I had to,” she said. “I knew I needed to bring someone here.”
She smiled. Rachael moved closer, pressing her lips to mine. My eyes widened in surprise. I felt a sensation run through my body, from my mouth all the way to the tips of my fingers and toes. She pulled slightly away.
“I see people do this all the time in the park,” she said. “I think I need to do it to you.”
Rachael kissed me again. The same sensation ran through me. I was feeling slightly drowsy and warm. Rachael put her arms around me. I could smell something sweet emanating from her. The more she kissed me, the more I felt myself growing weak in my legs.
I finally lost it, and I kissed her back. I came into this park afraid of this girl, but now, all I wanted was to keep her close to me. We continued to kiss, the sensation from her kisses finally causing me to drop to my knees. I could hear her breathing starting to get heavy, and I tried to silence it by kissing her more and more.
We then began to remove our clothing. I pulled her t-shirt off and tossed it to the side. As I suspected, she didn’t have anything under the shirt. Her education seemed to be from whatever books and pamphlets appeared by this lake, and she probably didn’t understand the need to wear undergarments. She probably didn’t even understand what we were doing right now, but she seemed to roll with it.
She pulled my shirt off, and I lowered her to the ground. I ran my hands over her body. Her pale skin shone in the moonlight and was soft to the touch. Her skin wasn’t rough like someone who lived outdoors would. As I touched her, I felt even more entranced by her. I started to kiss her all over her body, causing her to moan slightly as I kissed her neck.
I began to lose track of time and space as we continued to kiss and touch each other. I couldn’t even think of anything
other than touching her all over. All my questions about this place and about her didn't matter to me. As I removed the rest of our clothing, she didn’t even seem to mind anything that was happening. Rachael was smiling and moaning softly the whole time.
Before I knew it, I had entered her and started to move slowly. A girl as innocent as her had probably never done something like this before. I hadn’t had much experience, but knew I needed to take the lead and make her enjoy it. I moved slowly at first, but started to pick it up as time passed. Her body started to feel warmer, and it felt like she was starting to sink into the ground.
I looked down at Rachael as I adjusted my position. Her skin was starting to get covered in dirt and mud from the lake shore. The water was also starting to creep closer to us, covering her in a few inches of water. As I started to pick up the pace, I noticed Rachael’s eyes turn a bit glassy. They had grown wider as I started to thrust more and more into her, and were starting to reflect the moon. I wasn’t sure if she was enjoying it anymore, but I couldn’t find myself willing to stop. I kept going, completely lost in the act. I came inside her, and soon felt sleepier than ever before. I had never felt so exhausted from love making, and my head felt really foggy. Before I fell asleep, I could see tears starting to fall from Rachael's eyes, all with that same smile on her face.
When I awoke, it was day time. I was fully dressed, but I was no longer at the lake. The lake, with its large mound of garbage, had disappeared. I was back in a familiar area of the park, surrounded by trees, but still within sight of a pathway and a public restroom. I suddenly felt a sense of shame and embarrassment from sleeping in the park, and knew I needed to go.
I sat up and looked around. Rachael was gone. Strangely, in place of where she should have been laying was a bed of flowers. I hadn’t seen these kind of flowers in the park before. They were orange-colored, with several petals to create a star shape. They were pretty tall, so I don’t know when they could have grown.
I stood up and rubbed my forehead. I had no idea what could have happened, whether I had been dreaming, or if Rachael had drugged me. I quickly checked my pockets to see if anything had been stolen, but everything was still there. Nothing had happened to me the whole night. For some reason, I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
I was about to walk away when I heard a sudden crying sound from nearby. I looked around, trying to find the source, but I soon realized it was coming from the flowerbed. I got on my knees and started to push the flowers aside. I soon gasped as I looked at the source of the crying.
There was small infant lying inside the bed of flowers, pink skinned and scrunch faced. The baby, a girl, was nude and flailing her tiny limbs around. I looked around and tried to see if there was anyone nearby. I looked back at the baby, and she soon stopped crying. She looked at me and stared her bright, blue eyes directly at me. Then she cracked a smile. A bright, cheerful smile.
I didn’t say anything. I removed my shirt and wrapped the baby around it. I picked her up and held her close to me as I began to walk out of the park. I don’t know why, but I had a feeling that this was what I had to do. I should have been wondering if I should go to the police or try to ask people in the park if the baby was theirs, but I didn’t.
Instead, I took her home. I took Rachael home.
#Unreal #ShortStory #AlexCarrigan #RachaelInThePark #Magical #Fairies #ParkDwellers
Visit our shop and subscribe. Sponsor us. Submit and become a contributor. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.