1 comment

High School Teens & Young Adult Horror

CW: mild language, violence, mentions of blood.

From her yellow socks to her stupidly botanical name, Daff was born to be a Woodside Flower Girl. 

That’s what Dahlia had said upon her arrival to the school, amongst a stretch of pink knee-highs and a waft of signature perfume. Daffodil Jones was a top dog in the making, a queen fit for a cafeteria throne, and Dahlia, apparently, was going to make sure of it. 

Dahlia Dampney was good at getting what she wanted. That was clear as she sat on the bonnet of her brand-new Jag, lips fixed around a cola Chupa Chup, with her black hair blown-out à la Farah Fawcett. She rather reeked of Daddy’s money and, had Daff not had her own father willing to hand out cash like a plate of biscuits, she would’ve been quite jealous. That job, however, seemed to have been taken up by Lavender Wilson. 

She too sat on the bonnet, her school skirt riding up in a very obviously intentional way with her own purple stockings rolled down to her ankles, undoubtedly from the muggy September air. Her eyes flicked to Dahlia every other second and had Enna had the power, Daff was sure a hole would’ve burnt through the wool of Dahlia’s Woodside jumper just from her pure ferocity. 

Poppy was the only one who didn’t seem to give a toss about anything. She didn’t really need to. She was clever, effortlessly clever, and no matter what she did or who she did, Poppy Brown would go far. Daff reckoned being a Flower Girl was just for the show of it. There didn’t appear much lure in red socks and scheduled bullying jobs for people like Poppy, and it left Daff wondering whether it was all some social experiment for her. One that she would one day write a thesis on, inked on paper posher than her voice with a pen worth more than Daff’s record player and records combined. 

“Do you have a lighter, Daff?” Poppy’s voice floated from her seat on the browning grass as she tucked a strand of auburn hair behind her annoyingly delicate ears, “I left mine at school.”

Daff kicked a stone with her Mary Jane and watched as it tumbled off the edge of the quarry. “Sorry, no. I don’t smoke.”

“You should, Jonesy,” Dahlia dislodged the lolly, “Makes you all skinny, that’s what Mum said. Skinny and luxurious.”

“Well, I don’t think there’s anything luxurious about it,” Enna complained, straightening her socks, “It smells like burnt shit. And Danny says it’s unladylike.”

Poppy placed a cigarette between her lips, apparently content with just the illusion of skinniness and luxury without the burnt shit part. 

“Danny Dixon wouldn’t know ladylike if it fell down from the Heavens and kissed him square on the lips.” She said. 

The muffle from the cigarette gave her a strange toughness that her tartan school skirt and gentle features otherwise erased. Daff couldn’t remember ever seeing a girl act quite like Poppy Brown, from her scandalous lipstick to the way she leaned back on her elbows in the grass as if she were waiting for a man in bed.

Dahlia was perhaps better and worse in all ways, depending on how you looked at it. Daff saw it as an odd mixture of the two. Better in her perfectly puffed hair and the flounce of her skirt. Worse in her razor-sharp words and condescending smile. 

She wasn’t sure if she liked either of the two, good or bad. 

As for Enna, well, she was rather forgettable. It was a nice break, Daff supposed. She didn’t know whether she’d be able to cope with three of them as tiresome as Poppy and Dahlia already were. 

“Do you have to stare, Jones?” Enna snapped, almost as if she could read Daff’s mind. Or perhaps Enna really was just as tiresome after all. Theory disproven, Daff thought. 

“S’pose not,” Daff shrugged, “You’re not particularly interesting to stare at.”

Poppy and Dahlia each gave a somehow still delicate snort. 

And that was why Daff was there, you see. She didn’t have brains or atrocious amounts of money or a jealously that made her frightfully mean. But she could talk. And that was enough for the Flower Girls.

“That’s not funny.” Enna near-shrieked. 

“Really?” another laugh was thrown from Dahlia’s direction, “Because I thought it was bloody hilarious.”

Enna’s pointy nose seemed even more pointy at the look she then gave, both sharp and fiery – and with a touch of embarrassment too, if the flush on her cheeks was anything to go by. 

“Whatever,” she sniffed, clearly rather unhappy with the entire situation, “Are we here to welcome Jones as a Flower Girl or not? Because a pair of holey, yellow socks doesn’t cut it. We have standards.”

“If we supposedly have standards, Enna, why are you hanging off the arm of Danny Dixon half the time?”

“Shut up, Poppy. Danny Dixon is captain of the rugby team. And I dumped him two weeks ago, as you very well know. Anyway, you’re the one who wanted Jones to be a part of our group.”

And what a group the Flower Girls was. Not a scattering of toddlers in broderie dresses with baskets of petals like Daff had first thought. No, the Flower Girls were the invincible circle at Woodside Secondary. The leaders of the teenage, acne-prone pack. Pimpled pawns kissed their feet. Push-up bra peasants followed their every style. Bowl cut adorned attendants showered them with stale-breath-smelling compliments. 

Soon, Daff was told, they would do that to her too.

“Exactly,” Poppy pushed herself forward and got to her feet, a graceful red-socked swan amongst two vipers and a mouse, “Are we going to play or not?”

“Play?” Daff decided to ask.

To be honest, she still wasn’t really sure why they were there. An after-school hangout at the quarry, that’s what Dahlia had told her, with the prospect of alcohol very much on the cards. Her brown eyes had glinted at the words, though Daff wasn’t sure why, and she had this buzz about her as if this was going to be the most fun time of their lives. Again, Daff wasn’t sure why. She just had to roll with it, she supposed. 

“Cricket, of course.” Dahlia’s eyes turned in their sockets.

Right. Cricket. 

Did Daff even know how to play cricket?

“I’m not really sure I know how to play cricket.” She admitted, figuring that she was pushed far enough into the group not to be yanked out again for something so trivial.

“Not proper cricket,” Enna barked a laugh, as humourless as it was brash, “This is Flower Girl Cricket.”

Poppy smiled slickly at that, finally removing the cigarette from her lips and tucking it behind her ear. “It’s drastically different, darling. Much more fun.”

Dahlia was the next to move, sliding off of the bonnet with a severe elegance that made Daff quake each and every time, no matter how frequently she’d experienced it over the past half a term. 

“There are three rules, that’s all,” she spoke with an amused tone to her voice, “One, anything less than your best attempts are unacceptable.”

“Two,” Enna’s own voice began, tinted with that Newcastle lilt of hers, “Right-handed batting only. Dahlia can’t bowl for lefties.”

By now, the two of them were both standing side by side at the boot and when Poppy finally joined them, the trio was complete, all the way from the contrasting locks down to the Neapolitan of socks. 

“And finally,” then came Poppy’s turn, making Daff realise this all sounded rather rehearsed, “Don’t aim for the eyes. The mess is positively frightful.”

Like a full stop on the sentence, Dahlia opened the boot with a click. 

And there, bundled up with his eyes closed, was Danny Dixon in all his rugby-shirted glory.

Daff instantly had to try very hard not to throw up.

There was a boy in the boot.

A boy.

In the boot.

A boy in the boot. 

boy in the–

Dahlia,” Enna suddenly shrieked, though she sounded more irritated than anything, “You didn’t tell me it would be Danny. I thought we were doing Clive Doherty.”

“Oh, please,” Poppy rolled her eyes, “Who else was it going to be? You just dumped him. Perfect opportunity and all that.”

Daff swallowed the drops of bile that had risen to her mouth.

She looked down to him again.

He was unconscious.

Right.

Okay. 

This was normal.

“Oh God,” the shriek of Enna’s voice came once again as she dashed away from the sight of the boot, “I can’t be around him looking like this. I haven’t done my roots yet, Poppy, you know that.”

As she scrambled to pull up her rolled down socks, Daff didn’t take her eyes off of Danny.

Finally, she found her own voice. 

“What’s going on?” it was practically a whisper, marred by the sudden fear she was feeling, “This is a joke, isn’t it? You didn’t really… y’know?”

“I know it might seem hard to believe but no, Wils isn’t a natural blonde.”

“Not that. Jesus Christ,” Daff eventually gained the strength to bark at Dahlia, “There’s a boy in your boot.

“Oh,” Dahlia looked rather surprised at the question, “Well, who else are we going to play cricket with?”

The way Daff’s mouth gaped at that statement undoubtedly looked like a fish with asthma.

“Are you going to help or not?”

She didn’t even get a chance to answer Poppy’s question before the three girls were reaching into the car to grab whatever parts of Danny that they could get a good hold on. That was, namely, the shoulders for Dahlia, the feet for Poppy, and the waist for Enna, never one to put in much effort as she was. 

“Come on, Jones,” Enna demanded, “I can hardly carry it by myself. I broke my manicure last time.”

She wiggled her fingers right in Daff’s face at that, nails painted pale purple just like her socks. 

“But we’ll… we’ll take him home afterwards, won’t we? The school’s big rugby match is tomorrow.”

Daff didn’t care about rugby matches. She didn’t care about Danny Dixon. But she cared about the pit deep in her stomach, however selfish that might have been.

“Of course, Jonesy.” Dahlia smiled.

Daff paused.

That was… better than nothing.

So, with that thought now in her mind, she did the only think she could think of.

She grabbed Danny’s other hip and heaved with the rest of them. And Daff had thought she hated cross country. Compared to lugging a seventeen-year-old boy across a quarry, it was the most desirable thing on God’s green Earth. 

They ended up tying Danny to a post.

He would have technically been standing if his legs were actually taking any weight, what with him tied to the bottom of the post by his feet with his arms above his head. 

This was all perfectly normal. 

In the corner of her eyes – the eyes that were currently fixed to the boy as he hung there like a witch at the stake – Daff saw Dahlia as she now held a cricket bat and ball. The ball in question was a battered old thing, threads unravelling and red leather fading, and the bat had a number of what she could only assume was mud stains on it. 

Perfectly. Normal.

“As the esteemed bowler of the Flower Girls,” Dahlia gave a little twirl, brandishing the handle like a baton, “I will very gladly take my position. Batswoman to the crease, if you will.”

She then tossed the bat into the air, caught quickly by Poppy as she stepped onto an especially worn piece of grass opposite Danny. The stance Poppy then took was made with ease, nimble and intimidating at the same time – a ballerina holding a rifle. 

She glanced to Daff. “I think you’ll find I am the best batswoman of the Flower Girls. It’ll be rather hard to take my crown, I’m afraid.”

By now, Dahlia had made her way to her own patch of grass a little to the left of Danny. She too looked right at home with the ball in her hand. Daff watched, anxiety fizzing, as she tossed it up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and thwack!

The ball flew through the air, towards Poppy’s bat. 

With a wooden thump and a whoosh as it flew back again, the ball spun and spun and spun– shit, Daff thought it would never end. 

But it did, of course.

It did and it hit Danny’s ribcage so ferociously that a snapping crack bounced through the sky. 

Bone. That had been bone.

Danny didn’t stir. 

“Fuck.” Daff found herself whispering once more.

Fuck indeed. 

This was…

This was…

Well… cricket, apparently.

And Enna was up next. 

Another toss of the ball from Dahlia’s direction, a surprisingly ferocious swing of the bat from Enna, and this time a whump as the leather orb hit Danny square in the thigh. 

Daff flinched.

“Still not as good as Brown, Wils,” Dahlia dragged the ball towards her with her shoe before flicking it up into her hand, “Maybe Jonesy will give her a run for her money for once.”

Jonesy.

That was her.

They wanted her to–

“You’re up, Jones.” Enna cut off her thought, handing her the bat. 

“But I don’t think–”

This time it wasn’t just Daff’s thought that she interrupted but her words too. 

“You’re up.

Enna slammed the bat’s handle down into Daff’s palm.

She pretended it didn’t hurt.

Perhaps Daff was stalling as she slowly made her way to the grass acting as the crease, pretending she was positioning her feet just right, but in the end it didn’t matter. In no more than thirty seconds, Dahlia was readying herself too. 

The ball was thrown.

Daff felt her world stop rather dramatically.

Because she could’ve flaked out, purposely missed the ball, but it was quite clear to her now that the Flower Girls were not people to mess with. They knew her, even if it had only been for a few weeks. They’d seen her play rounders; knew she was a dab hand at most sports regardless of the fact that she hated them. Daffodil Jones was not someone to miss a shot.

So, she didn’t.

Thwack.

Crack. 

The ball slammed into Danny’s forehead.

At the sound, Daff felt her lunch rise but she did her best to swallow it down. There was blood now too, trickling from his pale skin and dripping to the dry ground. 

Shit. 

Shit.

Shit.

“Bullseye!” Dahlia whooped, sounding like a child watching a coconut shy. 

“Nice one, Daff,” she could hear the impressed smile in Poppy’s voice, “Drawing blood earns extra points.”

“I suppose it was quite a good shot,” Enna gave a sniff, “For a first timer.”

Even a compliment from Lavender Wilson wasn’t enough to draw her panicked eyes away from the bleeding boy. 

“Surely, we should, y’know, take him to hospital?” She tried, only to be met with a collection of amused looks.

“That’s not how the Flower Girls do things, Jonesy,” Dahlia shrugged, pretending to be apologetic, “First we boot them then we play our cricket. Now all that’s left to do is bury him.”

That, understandably, was rather the last straw. 

 “You what?” Daff found herself shrieking yet again, “You can’t be serious! You can’t bury Danny alive!”

But Poppy just gave a cackle, swinging her arm around Daff’s shoulder.

“Alive?” she crowed, giving Daff a final slick look, “Oh, darling. We kill them before we even put them in the boot.”

October 07, 2021 17:11

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Jon Casper
10:07 Oct 08, 2021

Whoa. Dark! Great story though. Detailed and vivid description. Fascinating characters. Nice work!

Reply

Show 0 replies