Makarelle Spring 2022: 'Landmarks'

The Copse

by Sue Davnall

The copse was fairy tale-perfect. In summer, leaves rustled in the breeze and small birds chir- ruped; the sun drew pleasing patterns on the scattered patches of soft green moss as it filtered through the low-hanging boughs. In winter, the wood’s small inhabitants left delicate traces across the carpet of snow as they scurried from one food store to another. The copse had been there for years with- out number. Men would come to cut wood or collect mushrooms and sometimes to hunt rab- bits or game birds. But mainly the trees stood quiet and undisturbed as the seasons came and went. Now, though, there were new embellish- ments to the sylvan scene. Half-crushed metal cans caught the sunlight as they nestled beneath the fronds of grass at the edge of the clearing. Translucent worm-like creatures lay there, the cast-offs from hidden and hasty love-making. Here and there the earth was charred and bare where inexpert hands had tried to set a fire against the evening chill. Cigarette stubs and dis- carded needles littered the ground like woodland flowers. In the distance the rumble of cars from the encroaching housing estate competed with the calls of the few bold birds that remained. On a hot summer’s day a girl walked into the centre of the copse. She wore ripped jeans, heavy black boots, a skimpy pale pink vest top and more earrings, rings and bracelets than there are stars in the sky. She looked around for some-

where to sit and finally settled for a fallen tree on the far side of the clearing. For a while she shift- ed about, trying to find the least uncomfortable position in which to rest her thin body. Time passed. The girl pulled out her phone and began to text, her fingers fluttering furiously across the keys. Occasionally she pushed her long dark hair behind her shoulder, her abrupt movements betraying her impatience. After a while there was a sound, followed by an- other then another. Someone was approaching, without hurry. The girl’s demeanour changed: she sat up straight, swept her hair back again, then pulled it forward a little so that it fell half across her face, bit her lips to bring the blood to them, wriggled into what she believed to be a nonchalant pose. Just before the boy entered the clearing she stashed her phone in her trouser pocket. ‘Hiya.’ ‘Hi.’ The newcomer looked around him. A trav- eller arriving for the first time in the great jungles of the Amazon would not have looked more lost or perplexed than he. ‘Wha’ we doing here, then? Why didn’ you wanna go down the rec?’ The girl looked a little less certain of her- self. ‘Everyone’ll be hangin’ out down there. Thought it would be nice just the two of us.’ ‘Why? ‘Cos I snogged you at the party?’


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Landmarks Spring 2022

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