|WILLOW'S MAGPIE No. 50|
Mum and Dad had put their foot down. They were adamant.
“You are not going to the disco, and that’s final. I don’t care how many of your friends are allowed to go, you are not going. You are too young, ask us in a year or so and we’ll think again.”
Brother and sister were crushed. They’d told their friends that they’d all go together to the rave to be held in a large barn on the outskirts of the local town, just four miles away from their village.
The place was called ‘Escape’ and that’s what it appeared to be to the village kids, a place where you could get away from boring adults and their restrictions.
Gretel stamped her foot. “I hate them”, she wailed, “they never let us do anything. I bet Hannah’s Mum lets her go.”
Hansel scowled. “Serve them right if we just went without their stupid permission.”
The seed was sown.
The Saturday of the rave was bright and cold. There’d been snow overnight, the countryside looked cheerful and inviting in the sunshine.
Still sore, Hansel and Gretel kept to their rooms after lunch. Mum was busy in the kitchen and Dad was tinkering in the garage. The party was to start at four pm and last till seven, when the kids who’d been allowed to go would be picked up and ferried home again.
Hansel burst into Gretel’s room. “Come on, get your coat on, we’re going,” he commanded. Gretel was ready for him, she’d already got her sparkly silver top on under her jumper and her black leggins under her jeans. “If we go now, by the path through the wood and across Farmer Giles’ field, we’ll get there by four. We’ll cadge a lift home and Mum and Dad will never know that we’ve been out.”
They sneaked out by the French doors into the garden and ran. As planned they got to the barn in good time, the music had only just started and not many of their friends had arrived as early as they had. But a group of much older boys and girls from the town were there, standing at one end of the barn in private huddles, with a skinny, tall boy going from group to group, handing them something.
Gretel stared. “They’re not meant to be here.” she said curiously. “They’re a bit old, aren’t they,” she added. Hannah agreed. “Keep away from them, they’re bad news. Some of them are druggies.”
Gretel shuddered. She soon forgot all about them as she started dancing with the other girls, all of them in a circle, with the boys doing their own thing somewhere else. She felt a little guilty at having come without permission, but where was the harm; she and Hansel would be home again soon, with Mum and Dad none the wiser.
The music got louder, the barn heated up and the girls stopped for a drink of water. The tall boy was loitering by the improvised bar. He eyed Gretel, who was tall and looked older than her fourteen years, appreciatively. “Fancy a little booster?” he asked. “Ever tried it?” Gretel found it hard to get away from him in the crush. “Here you are, have a bit, just a quarter won’t do you any harm. Try it, it’s free.”
He took her by the arm and manhandled her out of the crush by the bar. and out by the barn door. “Get off me, let go of my arm, I don’t want your booster.” She was alarmed now. He gripped her a little harder. “Come on, be nice, have a little fun.”
Suddenly, Hansel appeared. He was only thirteen and much smaller than the tall boy. “Hey, leave my sister alone”, he shouted; the tall boy turned and laughed. “Says who?” Hansel threw a feeble punch at him. The boy side-stepped him and laughed louder, letting go of Gretel’s arm. Furiously, Hansel picked up a thick broomstick leaning against the barn wall. He swung it, hitting the tall boy on the side of his head. At the same time Gretel shoved him hard and the boy staggered and fell back into the snow, momentarily winded.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Gretel said, “home, Hansel.” They ran to pick up their coats and legged it, back through Farmer Giles’ field and into the woods that would lead them home.
Gretel could have sworn that she saw a large pale arrow pointing them homewards, back on the right path.