CONTENTS AND FRONT PAGE STORY - FORBIDDEN FRUITS
THE WEBSITE OF AUTHOR JANET GOGERTY
Felicity packed the empty plastic boxes into her rucksack; it was a glorious day to be out close to nature. She wanted to get up there before they were all gone. Tonight’s dinner would be a real home grown and local feast; they would have the last of the three cucumbers, the hanging basket tomatoes had been more successful and she would check there was no slug in the very Little Gem lettuce this time. The Bramley apple tree had been excellent this year and she would make a crumble.
Everyone was out and about today; the chattering classes with their children, the dog walkers sitting outside the busy café and the people queuing for the Noddy Train. So many people it was busier than the shopping centre she was trying to avoid.
Felicity walked briskly along a sandy track to get away from the hordes; she had not spotted anyone else with boxes or bags, it was looking hopeful. She should be able to pick enough blackberries to put in the freezer as well. She smiled and corrected herself; Autumnberries as they had to call them now, lest anyone be offended.
Suddenly she was halted in her tracks; an obtrusive notice board stood in front of her. It was even larger then the pictures of Iron Age settlements or instructions on what birds to look for. She read on in disbelief.
Health and Safety Notice- Bramble Alert
Due to the risk of injury and infection from puncture wounds and lacerations, members of the public are forbidden to pick any fruit from brambles.
Felicity snorted in disgust; what would they do if she disobeyed? Chain her to a viewpoint bench, stone her or cast her off the cliff?
It was lovely and peaceful as she walked further, just the sweet sound of the birds. As she walked, she realised she had made the same mistake as last year; with the weather still warm she had sallied forth in her shorts and sandals. Still, it was just a matter of stepping carefully to avoid the nettles and aiming only for berries that were accessible. A few scratches and pricks were only to be expected and she moved confidently from one bramble patch to another. The more she picked, the more she wanted to pick.
The rucksack was getting heavy, but she would have enough in the freezer for the whole winter. She decided to stop picking; perhaps just one more. She stretched up and leaned forward, her purple stained fingers touched the succulent berry, but it dropped down into the tangle of briars. She teetered, unable to recover her balance; knowing as she fell forward she should have obeyed the notice.
At first she didn’t panic; she was in pain everywhere, but her eyes were untouched, nothing serious was done. At least no one had seen her make a fool of herself, she sighed with relief. But as she struggled to get up she could get no purchase to push herself. Every move seemed to tangle her more painfully in the brambles. Felicity lay still and tried to think logically. Her mobile phone was in the pocket of her rucksack; to reach it she would have to get up and that was precisely what she could not do.
The day was not as warm as she thought, it was chilly. To call out would be embarrassing, but there was no alternative. Her voice was muffled and she knew from the ensuing silence nobody was likely to walk past on this lonely track. Now she was panicking and struggled violently, to no avail.
At last she heard a voice and felt a wet nose on her foot; thank goodness for dog walkers.
‘I can’t help you dear, I’ve had my hip done, but I could fetch help’ said an elderly lady’s voice.
‘Mobile in rucksack’ mumbled Felicity, beginning to feel hopeful.
After some groaning and sighing she felt a tug.
‘It’s no good, I can’t work these dam things,’ the voice said ‘I’ll go for help, but it will take me a while with this hip.’
‘Pass me the phone’ Felicity tried to say.
‘Here we are dear, I can’t reach very well. Blast, that’s it gone, these brambles are so thick’ said the increasingly agitated voice.
Felicity felt frozen, hours seemed to pass; then she heard the crackle of footsteps and a confident male voice.
‘Good heavens, the sights we rangers see; I can’t pull you out, health and safety, we’re not allowed to step in the brambles. I’ll have to dial 999.
I’m not sure which service, yes alright, coastguard, we are on the coast…. I’m not sure, sort of in the middle, it’s my first day as a ranger; I’ll wave when I spot it. No major injuries, only her pride.’
Felicity heard him chuckle as he finished on the phone. His awkward attempts to reassure her were interrupted by the sound of a helicopter and out of the corner of her eye she saw a pair of boots land beside her.
‘The only way is up, love; this might hurt a bit, I’ve got to get a harness round you and it’s a bit awkward with these protective gloves on. I’ll just slip your rucksack off.’
As Felicity swung in the air, attached to a rather nice young man, her feelings were confused. It was very exciting and the view was wonderful, but she was mortified at the predicament she had found herself in; then this changed to annoyance as she realised she had left the Bla…Autumnberries behind.
'FORBIDDEN FRUITS' IS ONE OF THE STORIES IN HALLOWS AND HERETICS
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