Wednesday, January 11, 2017

the girl in the forest


Late last Sunday afternoon Indi was away camping, Jazzy was up at the house, and Pepper, Bren and I were hanging out by the windmill dam. It was the end of a stinking hot, dry day and just sitting by the water's edge, listening to it gently lapping at the sandy shore, was soothing my frazzled brain and cooling me right down.

Pepper was floating out in the middle of the dam and Bren and I were chatting about something or other, or nothing, when one of us noticed that our dogs at the top of the hill were barking more than usual. At first we dismissed it and kept talking. But when it didn't stop and we listened closer, we heard another sound in amongst the barking. Bren thought it might have been the peacock that has recently made our garage roof its residence, I thought it might have been someone walking past on a forest track, or perhaps it might have even been a car coming up from our back gate.

But the barking continued and we still couldn't identify the other noise.

So Bren got in his car and drove up to the top of the hill to check it all out. By the time he got there the dogs had calmed down a bit but he could still hear shouting coming from somewhere in the forest and although he couldn't work out what it was about, something didn't feel right. So he went inside the house, put boots and socks on, grabbed his phone, some water and the first aid kit and drove out into the forest to look around.

Meanwhile Pepper and I were still down by the dam when the noise we'd heard amid the barking, suddenly became a very distinct scream. High pitched and terrified and LOUD! It was a girl's voice and she was screaming for help and the immediate phrase that jumped into my mind was blood curdling.

Every single hair on my body was sticking up and my heart was about to jump out of my chest but somehow I had to remain calm for Pepper. And as she screamed I imagined she was a girl who had been kidnapped years ago and held in a dark room somewhere but had now escaped and was terrified and running for her freedom. (Bren thinks I read too many scary books).

Even though the screaming continued, Bren meanwhile was much calmer and more rational than I. Thank goodness for Bren. His first thought was that someone had been bitten by a snake.

He drove out the back gate and slowly along a forest track when he saw the girl wandering through the trees looking quite distressed. He approached her carefully and cautiously. The sun was burning down, she was wearing a sun dress and had scratches all over her arms and legs.

As soon as she saw him with her big terrified eyes she started screaming. She was screaming for help, for her boyfriend, and for all sorts of other stuff too. That's what we must have heard down by the dam.

He told her that she was safe. He told her that he lived close by and had water for her to drink. And he asked her if she was hurt, or if she had taken any drugs, and what her name was. She screamed and screamed. And in between screams she told him that she had lost her friends and her boyfriend, SCREAM! She was 18 and from Melbourne, SCREAM! She wasn't on drugs but had borderline personality disorder, SCREAM!

In the middle of all this I called Bren, he'd been away for far too long and we were scared and stranded and worried about him. I never expected him to answer his phone, but thankfully he did. He briefly told me the story of the girl in the forest. He'd given her some water but she refused to get in his car. I told him I was going to call an ambulance.

In all my life I have never called 000 for emergency before but I'm pleased to report that I stayed calm and even though I couldn't answer a lot of the questions they asked me, I told them what I knew and they told me that they'd call Bren to fill in the blanks.

Meanwhile Bren had been surprised to watch as the distraught girl accepted his phone and using her two thumbs pressed in her boy friend's number. He was sure that her shaking fingers wouldn't have been able to hit their targets, but they did. He called the number twice and no one answered but then tried a third time and the boyfriend did.

The distressed girl was sitting on the ground crying. Bren was on the phone trying to make sense of what her boyfriend was saying, and then the ambulance called him, and then the police, and then just to add another call to all those he was juggling, me.

After he told us that he had spoken to her people and that the police and ambulance were on their way, I got Pepper out of the water and we walked barefoot back up to the house. She was intrigued and wanted to know every question the emergency services had asked me, and what my answers had been. She was fascinated by all the details and didn't seem frightened at all despite the thumping heart next to her, the hand gripping hers tightly, and the tears that streamed down my face as I told her about the poor, frightened girl in the forest.

When we'd been in the house for long enough for me to shower her off and make us both a cool drink, Bren came back home. We threw questions at him fast and wanted so many answers, but it took him quite some time to be able to respond. Poor thing.

The ambulance people had asked him a lot of questions on the phone and then told him what to do. He wasn't to give her any food or more to drink just in case, but he was to keep her safe if he could. When he worked out that the local police woman didn't know the forest tracks as well as he did, he'd made a plan to meet her on the main road. Luckily by this time he'd calmed the girl down enough to get her into his car, but she was very distressed when she learnt that the police were involved. She was worried she'd get into trouble.

When they arrived at the road they were met by three police cars, which is unheard of in this area, and the boyfriend and his family. The police interviewed Bren on one side of the car and the girl on the other. The boyfriend and his family were kept completely separate. She was still pretty upset and had her head in her hands, but they wouldn't let Bren answer for her, even the details he knew.

After a while they helped the girl out of the car and they let him go. Just like that. No one thanked him, or told him what had happened, or even what was going to happen. He just drove away.

Not long after he'd arrived home and finally started telling us his story, the ambulance arrived. Ours was the original address they'd been given but we'd assumed they'd be redirected when the girl had met up with the police. They'd even driven past all the police cars on their way to our place. We gave them all the information we knew and sent them on their way.

Half an hour later when we drove past on our way into town for dinner, all signs of the story were gone.

Had they taken her to hospital? Had this happened before? Where had she come from? Had she run away from them, or them from her?

Later that night as we got into bed my farmer boy couldn't close his eyes without seeing her. The next day when we went back down to the windmill dam to swim we listened for her.

I just hope that wherever she is, she feels safe.



x

23 comments:

  1. Oh Kate...you tell an amazing story. How distressing for you all, particularly that young girl. A few years ago my husband was involved in a search for a young man who had gone missing in our area of the outback. It was mid summer (40+ degrees) and the landholders helped the police to search, because frankly the police didn't know the area. He had walked away from his car into really rough, rocky & dry terrain. They didn't find him. His body was found about 2 years later. Some people are in some really shitty situations aren't they? It certainly makes us appreciate our security and what we have x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow, what a terrifying story. I imagine they didn't know what they'd find when they found him too. It certainly does make us appreciate what we have big time. x

      Delete
  2. Gosh! Thank goodness for wonderful and caring people like you and Bren. Something like that stays with you for quite some time. Especially the sound of the screams. You feel jittery and anxious for days afterwards. You can ring the police and ask them what happened to her, if she is okay, just to put your mind at rest. Its what my Dad did when something like that happened to us many years ago. Lots of love xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true, I still find myself listening for her screams when we're down where we were that day. x

      Delete
  3. Oh wow! I have been in the YouTube rabbit hole of "most mysterious unsolved cases" & "strangest disappearances" (I don't recommend doing the same thing!), so it's rather eerie to hear a first person account of something similar. I sure hope she's ok and I bet her loved ones are glad that there were people close enough by to hear her distress. Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha that is totally something I'd do. I listened to hundreds of murder story podcasts last year for some reason. I think that's why I was so quick to imagine the worst for this girl when I heard her screaming.

      Delete
  4. Dear Kate i can feel the distress in your words. How lucky this girl was to find you. You all did an amazing thing for this girl, i hope she is feeling safe too. Its all quite shocking, take care of yourselves, much love Emma x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep thinking how lucky it was that we heard her at all. If she was further up into the forest she could have been lost for days.

      Delete
  5. Good grief! Sounds like a movie! What was that one, around ten years ago?

    ReplyDelete
  6. ...hope she's fine and you're all fine. It is a bit of an unsettling occurrence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Stel, I think it's because I named the blog after all those 'The girl...' books/movies. x

      Delete
  7. Wow, that is quite shocking, I cant believe that the Police didn't at least phone you to put your minds at rest. Surely they will need a statement from you? I found a car in the woods, that was empty thanks goodness, that had come off the road on a treacherous bend. I reported it to the Police, and they did phone me back to let me know what had happened. I live in the UK, perhaps it is policy here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woah, that sounds very scary. Thank goodness it was empty when you found it. x

      Delete
  8. Well done to all of you specially Bren. Wouldn't it be nice if all people looked out for each other the way you do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was amazing. If I were distressed and lost in the forest I'd like to be helped by someone as calm and reassuring as him. x

      Delete
  9. Thank goodness for the dogs and that you heard her, and for Bren going to find her. Sounds like she was vulnerable and probably had mental health issues. He may have saved her life. It's a shame not to know more. Kind of strange, but at least you were there in a crisis. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true, the main thing is that he got to her before anything serious happened. x

      Delete
  10. Wow what a story! Hopefully the police give you a call to debrief you and let you know she is ok. It's an amazing talent to calm a person in distress, what a great job bren did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He did. I've been wondering if I would have been so calm and reassuring if it were me with her.

      Delete
  11. OMG how aweful youd hope they give follow up to reasure you guys

    ReplyDelete
  12. How distressing for all concerned! If you have the reference number of your police report, you may be able to get further information.

    I was surprised to read that you had never needed to call 000 before. This is a good opportunity to teach the girls and they learn more from what we do than what we say. Well done you for staying calm on the outside even if you didn't feel it on the inside!

    I used role playing to teach my children how to call the ambulance or emergency services because my chronic illness has regularly been the cause of emergency trips to the hospital. It is surprising to hear from emergency services workers how many adults panic in emergencies and cannot communicate coherently.

    When the children know what they might be asked, and in what order, they can be prepared with the information when they make the call; e.g. the first question is "WHERE is the emergency?" Most people like to explain the events but getting the services on their way to the right location is the most urgent matter. The rest can be explained on the way. Remember to mention which State of Australia you are in because sometimes the emergency phone operator can be in another and there can be more than one town with the same name.

    The next question will be "Police, Fire or Ambulance?"

    Because of my illness, we had a special note for the children to read out to explain my medical needs at times when I can't explain for myself and just having that organised means that the children stay calm and don't panic.

    It is worth while taking the time to discuss these things with your children so that, if the time comes for them to ring 000, they will be able to handle it efficiently and effectively. We have needed the ambulance regularly; now the children are quite matter-of-fact and business-like about it and I am very very proud of them.

    I'm sorry that the whole episode with the girl in the forest has shaken you up and left you wondering. Wishing you comfort and calm.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow you did a great job of writing that. I could certainly get a sense of the drama unfolding. I think
    I'd be callling the local cops (not on 000) just to see if she's ok I'm sure they can't tell you too much but it might be reassuring to know she's ok. As an aside I think you'd be a great short story writer!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the way....so I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

Visit my other blog.