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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Did I ever really know her?

November, 1984

In my home town there weren't many people - there had been cases of disappearing children, most likely amidst the old railway banks and vast countryside, that had kept people away - and so there was only one school building. It accommodated children of all ages, right up until they were eighteen. When I was twelve I made friends with a much older girl - her name was Charlotte Huxtable - and she was in her eighteenth year. She was seen as an outcast - she dressed differently, had a different and unique style, and people shunned her for it. She didn't seem to mind though - if anything, she enjoyed the solitude from what I could gather, but she still looked sad sometimes. I always wanted to talk to her, to ask if she was okay, to give her some more compassionate attention, but I was very shy back then. 

One day, in November, I was walking home from school. My home was at the foot of an old decommissioned railway bank that had since been overgrown - bushes, trees, all sorts of plant life had sprung up as nature reclaimed lost ground. A small brook cut through this area too that aided the growth - and I had to routinely cross a wooden bridge when walking to and from school. I liked the winter months - the trees were barren and towered into the sky like eerie spires, the cold air made me feel alive and there was often a light frost or bit of snow. That day, it was getting dark (customary of the winter months) and there was a light blanket of snowy dust across the bank, and I came to the bridge to see something I hadn't encountered before. 

Charlotte Huxtable was stood midway across it, watching the water flowing below her, fixated on it even. I stopped at first - I suppose I was a little intimidated. She dressed all in black - a black shirt, a black waistcoat over it, a black tie, a black skirt, black stockings, black shoes. Even her hair was black, and it almost reached her legs. She stood out tremendously in the winter landscape, which only made her presence here all the more different. 

I shrugged off the nerves that came with my shy nature - I didn't want to be like the other kids at school who made fun of her or ignored her. I felt that ignorance was the most unking thing I could do to her. In actuality, I was very fond of her. I liked the way she didn't let others dictate her life, how she made her own decisions regardless of the things people said, and I for one thought she looked ever so smart and ever so beautiful. She kept a camera around her neck at all times too - she seemed interested in photographing nature. 

I came to the bridge and stood a short distance away from her, mustering up my best smile and saying hello as firmly as I could - trying to hide any nerves still present in my voice - as I gripped my backpack's straps. She turned to me, looked me up and down and offered a small smile warm enough to cut through the crisp air between us. She said hello back and I realised it was the first time I had heard her voice - it was calm, quiet, intelligent in nature. She made me feel at ease just like that, with the uttering of a single word, and I leant against the side of the bridge with her to watch the water. 

I told her my name and said that I had seen her around at school. She laughed a little and told me that most people saw he around, and I realised how silly my statement must have seemed to her, given her radically different appearance. I said that i liked the way she looked and thought she was strong, and she smiled again. She told me that she thought nothing of the people who gave her ill attention, stating that she believed people who focused on being nasty were simply not intelligent enough to focus on anything better.

She said that I seemed like a smart "young lass" - especially so for my age. I was unable to hide my shyness at that point as I said thank you and she told me that she thought I was sweet. I asked her what brought her here, saying that I hadn't seen her here ever before, and she informed me that she often came down to the bank and the woods later at night. She had come earlier today because she had left school early. 

She told me that she enjoyed being amidst nature, especially at winter. I told her in return that I also loved the winter months, and we shared details we liked - the light snow, the gentle frosts... Her company, paired with the snowy landscape and quiet air, was quite something. She said that she felt most at peace when she was surrounded by nature, when she could hear the wind, the rain, the trickling of water in streams, the rustling of leaves on trees. I agreed entirely. 

She checked her watch at that point and said that she had to go - she had to do shopping for her mother on the way home. I asked if she planned to return later that night, to which she said yes, but I quickly realised it would be long past my bedtime and felt rather silly. Regardless, I told her to enjoy herself and she gave me one last smile before we parted ways. 

I drew a picture of her that night as I looked out my window. From my room you could see the woods, but only to a degree - some of the houses on the bank obscured areas, including the bridge. I liked Charlotte's hair in particular, how it moved in the wind gently, how it contrasted to the snow. 

The next day at school, I saw her under a tree just a short way away from the playground at lunchtime. I opted to join her, confident now because of our meeting the previous day. She smiled again when she saw me, always calling me "lass" instead of my name. I didn't mind. We sat together, I asked her what it was like in the woods late at night, and we ate together. I felt at peace with her, like she did with nature. Some people, girls and boys, shouted stuff at her but she took absolutely no notice. We spoke until the bell went and I went to my next class.

Some people in my class said that I shouldn't hang around with her, and that she was weird, and that people might think I was weird too if they saw me with her. They were only looking out for me - they didn't want me to be bullied or anything - but I told them that I knew better; Charlotte was smart and caring. I took no shame or worry in being in her company whatsoever. 

She was on the bridge again when I was on my way home from school. She said she'd wanted to meet me away from the place, to say thank you for my kindness towards her, and that despite her love of solitude she appreciated my company too. We stood there, watching the water again, until I had to be back for dinner. I could have listened to her speak all day - her descriptions were so vivid, her thoughts on nature fascinating and stirring. We agreed to meet up on the bridge daily. 

My mother was cautious about me coming back from school later. I told her I was with a friend I had made recently, and she informed me that there were rumours going around I had been with Charlotte. I was astounded - the childishness from people at school could be forgiven, but for adults to think she was weird and such too? I expected better from my parents. I scolded my mother, who just said she was cautious about me hanging around with older people, especially someone who had a reputation like her. I guess I understood her worry, but that didn't make me any less irritated at it. 

Seeing her over the next few weeks made me happy. I hadn't met someone so keen on nature before, someone like me, and I loved it. We even went for walks on weekends through the woods and she bought me sweets. I asked her about her parents at one point, but she dismissed the question very swiftly - noticeably swiftly. This piqued my curiosity, but I didn't pry any further - if she didn't want to discuss it, I would respect that. We took lots of pictures and had a lot of fun.

My mother told me, about a week later, that she had met Charlotte's mother during a bingo session at the local social club. They had gotten talking, and apparently Mrs. Huxtable had asked if my mother was the parent of "that little girl" Charlotte had been hanging around with and talking about. Charlotte's mother said she was happy that Charlotte was happy, and that she had found some companionship, but something was off about her. Even her own mother felt like she was unusual - the distrust coming from her must have been why Charlotte didn't want to talk about home. 

Another week passed and me and Charlotte kept in regular contact. On a bank holiday, she took me up to the highest point of the railway bank - close to the old railway bridge itself. There was a barricade that prevented people from going in, and it was utterly abandoned. She showed me an incision she had made in the fences at certain points though, allowing her to gain access. She said it was her favourite place in the world, the place where nature was least disturbed in the village, and that she wanted to take me in there someday. She also explained that it was dangerous and that I shouldn't go in alone. I heeded her warnings. 

The next day, Charlotte wasn't on the bridge. I never saw her again. 

I don't know what happened to her. There was talk around the village that she had gone on the run. She had gotten into a fight with her mother - a physical one - but her mother wouldn't disclose any details. That fight must have been the last straw in driving her away. I was disheartened that she didn't inform me, but at the same time I understood her frustration.

I thought about her a lot, over the following years. I grew my hair like her, but I didn't take to wearing black. It just wasn't my style. I stayed in the village past my graduation from school and got a job in the post office up the street from my house. The old bridge was in sight from there - I could see it from the back office - and it brought me some calm. 

When I was twenty one, I was walking through the woods, following some of the old trails me and Charlotte used to walk. I bumped into her mother on one of these walks. She had never really recovered from the loss of her daughter - as one would expect - and she hadn't confided in anyone what happened all those years ago to drive her daughter away. She told me that I was Charlotte's friend, and that I deserved some closure. We walked down to the bridge where we so often used to meet, and began to fill me in.

She had been cleaning Charlotte's bedroom when she accidentally knocked a box on the ground from off the top of her wardrobe. She had never seen the box before - a wooden thing with a simple lock - and she couldn't help but look inside. What she found disturbed her vastly.
Photographs, countless photographs. Not just any photographs though - photographs of the children that had gone missing in the area. 
She confronted Charlotte when she returned home that night, and when Charlotte realised what her mother had found, she pulled a knife on her - from within her waistcoat. She said that if she ever told anyone of those photographs that she would cut her throat. She took the box and left after smacking her mother around, and she hadn't seen her since.

I was stunned. Charlotte was capable of that? And why would she have photos of the missing children? I was utterly astonished. 

Me and Mrs. Huxtable parted ways and I wandered the woods for what felt like hours, going over everything in my head. Charlotte had never once shown any indication of a violent nature when she had been with me. She had never raised her voice, let alone her hand, at me. 

I remembered one last detail of our time together, and began to make my way up the old railway bank. 

The incisions she had made in the barricades around the entrance to the old bridge and platforms were still there, albeit slightly overgrown. I used a fallen branch to clear the way, to beat back any brambles and make the gaps bigger. I followed the path within the barricaded area, down towards the place she had said she wanted to take me all those years ago. 

I don't know what I expected to find there, or if I expected to find what I did, deep down. 

In the clearing at the centre of the old platform were the bodies of the countless children Charlotte Huxtable had abducted and murdered. 


Submitted: May 31, 2015

© Copyright 2021 LongDeadHerald. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


unmasked delusions

Hm- this was a wonderfully twisted story. :-) At first I thought it was sweet- that two very different people could hang out and then the hit me. I know Charlotte is the bad character but I find her really cool. I liked this, cool descriptions.

Mon, June 1st, 2015 5:18pm


Thank you, Unmasked, your feedback is always wonderful ^-^

Mon, June 1st, 2015 10:46am

Roni Archer

This is very good, you did a great job of keeping Charlotte a total mystery until the end. You feel she's maybe misunderstood, but then the reality hits you at the end. And it makes you think...when you give people on the periphery of society the benefit of the doubt, maybe you could be wrong after all!
Try reading my 'Lake Fear' story, hopefully you like it :)

Mon, June 1st, 2015 6:54pm


I would be most happy too, thank you!

Mon, June 1st, 2015 1:55pm


What a fantastic story. I was feeling sorry for Charlotte, being ostracised by her fellow schoolmates. I didn't expect the twist at the end.

Sun, April 10th, 2016 8:01pm

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