Jungle Home, Ch.1

Wrote this ages ago- not sure if its going to work, just the first chapter to a story about a group of modern day 'gypsies' in a dysfunctional family on the edges of society. yes i have used names from jaquline wilsons 'diamond girls' as i took inspiration from this; they seemed fitting for my characters/

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1. An introduction to life in the wildnerness

 

Dixie crouched, barely letting herself breathe, as she watched. Her thin petit figure folded easily under her, and her bony arms, familiar to squatting framed her shaking body. Her breath came out in short sharp spurts, as she tried to hold it in. She watched from behind her Gornzillilia bush, the social worker, dressed in black with dangly earrings maneuver herself out of the Audi estate, and scan the surroundings, her nose upturned.

She can sense me, Dixie thought. She’s on to something. I’ve got to run.

The social worker wrote something on her marine blue clipboard, and bent down to speak to the other man, sitting in the back of the estate.

This was her chance. And with no further hesitation, Dixie sprung from her hiding place, forcing her stiff cold limbs into action, and ran. She didn’t even look back. She dodged in and out of the various plants and bushes, feeling the coldness of the October morning slip away as her limbs pounded the hard ground. This is the way, she thought smugly to herself. Boo ha sucks to you, social services.

She soon reached familiar surroundings, and became more confident. She knew every nook and cranny, all the ins and outs of the steep rock face that jutted out from the side of the hill. She darted down the waterfall, leaping agilely between the rocks, making sure her bare feet didn’t tread on any prickly plants that grew sparsely around. She crossed the wooden plank bridge, sprinted down the dirt track before checking no one was around. She then advanced down some concrete steps and crashed wildly into the place she called home.

Now anyone watching Dixie would probably thought she was on some wild hunting expedition, or she was some crazed loony on the run. No one would have guessed that she was going home.

Panting, and bending down with her hands on her knees, Dixie let the adrenaline slowly seep out of her body, and let her thumping heart return to a slower pace. She then looked around. No one was in. Well of course they wouldn’t be, thought Dixie stupidly. It’s Tuesday. A school and work day for most people.  She reached high for an apple from the tree which grew in the centre of a large clump of densely leaved trees, and climbed up the tree where she regained her familiar position nestled into the crook of a wide and curved branch, lay back and relaxed. Birds twittered absent mindedly somewhere in the distance. A machine roared from over the road. All the sounds Dixie was used to, having grown up surrounded her.

Dixie’s thoughts suddenly turned to her mum. Her lovely wonderful kind sweet smelling mum. Mum who made everything better. Mum who could cuddle you, and all your fears, coldness and hunger would ebb away. Mum who got you into this kind of mess in the first place. Those were the kind of feelings Dixie had about her mum. She could make everything seem better, when it was her who caused it all in the first place anyway. See, Dixie lived in a jungle home. Not common at all nowadays. Her home consisted of a group of thickly leaved trees and bushes, with wooden bridge and a trickling stream. An apple tree, well adapted to being sat on and slept in grew in the far corner. Dixie had a strange attachment to that apple tree. Ever since she had been old enough to toddle, the apple tree had registered itself into her memory, and had been with her ever since- not only a food resource but somewhere to sleep, read and dream in the long sleepy summer days, and somewhere to shelter and whisper secrets in the depths of a cold wintery night; somehow life for in the jungle home seemed simply unimaginable without it.

Towards the far corner of the home were a wooden bench and a rotting crochet seat hammock, which they took it in turns to sleep in it, seeing as it was the best bed. It was attached to a huge shadowing Weeping Willow that drooped in a sorrowful manner over their house and protected them from the outside world. A bamboo plant grew round the apple tree, shading that corner, and overgrown bushes provided the other wall. There was a little place which they called the garden, where the stream trickled by, and two big bushes grew which under these provided the perfect snug crib for baby Sundance, the youngest of the family.

Baby Sundance! Dixie had forgotten all about him! Hurriedly she heaved herself out of the tree and through into the garden, kneeling down between the two bushes. Baby Sundance was in her arms in seconds, his wails sounding out through the trees.

“Sssh now Sundance, Sssh.” Dixie whispered, as she bounced him up and down on her knee, in that special way only she could do. It worked like a treat, and before long, she had Sundance sitting on his rug on the ground, clapping his chubby hands together, and munching on a carrot stick. She watched over him with a motherly anxiety. Dixie knew it wasn’t right for a baby this young to be left on his own for hours during the day. However, there was not a lot she could do. At least she was here now. With a sigh, she lent over and checked her watch. Five past two. Mr. Parry would be taking the afternoon register right now, and realizing that she had done a bunk for around the third time this week, and yet there was nothing she could do about it. The thought almost bought a smile to Dixie’s face. She had more power than the teachers, and they knew that. See, Dixie’s views on life were relatively simplistic and could pretty much be summed up in four words, having been bought up in a jungle home with four sisters. Survival of the fittest. And if surviving meant skiving school, then skive school she would. School was a waste of time anyway. The only person you considered school important was Martine, who had also been of the ‘bookish’ type ever since Dixie could remember.

Martine was the oldest of the family. She was seventeen, on the verge of leaving college, and practically an adult. And yet she was the one who insisted education and family were important. This was one thing Dixie could not get her twelve year old brain to understand. She knew that when she was that age, she would be out like a flash, and be living it up in some exotic cultured city. London maybe. Tokyo. New York. The possibilities were endless. Why Martine chose to stick around here, she would never know.

Then there was Rochelle. The Barbie of the family, as Dixie liked to call her. Like Dixie, she wasn’t the brightest person ever, but for some reason she still liked going to school, to ‘socialize’ as she put it. And boy did she socialize. She was the only one in the family who had a phone, after her ex boyfriend gave it to her second hand, and she never let it out of her sight. Not once. One time when Dixie tried to touch it, she let out a high-pitched squeal, and almost bit Dixie’s hand off. Never again.  Dixie had learnt from a young age that the best way of ‘survival’ around Rochelle was simply to keep out of her way, which she soon put into practice and seemed to work pretty well for the both of them.

Finally, there was Emerald. Emerald.  Not just a sister to Dixie but also the best friend she could ever have asked for. Describing Emerald was a pretty impossible task. From the outside, she would have looked like any normal girl; long straight brown hair, a delicate pretty pale pace sprinkled with light brown freckles, developed as the result of many lazy summers spent lounging with Dixie in the apple tree. But on the inside, the meaning of her name became more literal; she was similar to an Emerald in Dixie’s life. A shiny green jewel that always shines, regardless of the surroundings, which Emerald always did. If ever Dixie had had a bad day: fighting in school, triple detention, problems with social services, she could simply curl into Emeralds arms and somehow the world would instantly become a better place. Her mother had always said she’d had healers hands, and all the teachers have always said to Emerald that she’s clever enough to have a career in homeopathy and could do it if she put her mind to it. Emerald simply laughed of these comments with a simple and angelic ease, but deep down Dixie used to be able to see what Emerald was thinking. Emerald too wanted a better life when she was older,  and who was Dixie to hold her back, simply for the sake of loyalty and friendship?

Dixie sighed and hopped down from the tree as another wail echoed throughout the trees from baby Sundance. As she got closer to the baby, her nose wrinkled at the upcoming prospect of having to do a nappy change; motherhood was really not something she was cut out for. However, not even the traumatic ordeal of a nappy change was enough to satisfy Sundance, and his cries continued to penetrate through the trees, and into the outside world. Dixie hurriedly bounced him on her knee, patted his back and rocked him with caution (for fear of bringing up any unwanted regurgitated carrot sticks) but all to no avail. If he didn’t shut up soon, somebody was sure to hear them.

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