Keeping a developing child in tight restraints is as bad as keeping a wild bird caged. As soon as it tastes freedom, it is off, not intending to return ever again.
At the age of 13, my school geography lessons, arranged a trip to Edale, staying in a Youth Hostel and studying the area. This was my first taste of freedom, away from home, with my friends, being able to express myself without restrictions. Apart from discovering the beautiful countryside, I also discovered boys. Or rather one boy in particular, the son of the people who ran the Youth Hostel. He was 16 and gorgeous and he really liked me.
We spent every evening talking and staring into each other’s eyes. The song ‘Young Girl’ played endlessly on the radio and we both identified with it.
Finally, my escape ended and we all returned home. The grip of parental control seemed even tighter and the desire to escape again became overwhelming. With careful planning and deceit, a long walk to the local tube station, then across London, to catch a train to Sheffield. My goal was the Youth Hostel in Edale and the boy who understood me. Arriving there late at night, to discover that the managers and their son were away for a couple of days. I was able to check in as the stand-in managers didn’t recognise me and I looked a lot older than 13. I stayed there, wandering around the local area during the day and sleeping in a dormitory in bunk beds at night.
My patience was rewarded on the third day, when the boy (I think his name was Peter) came back with his parents. I asked a girl who was in my dormitory to ask Peter to come up stairs to see me.
He was shocked when he saw me, but we melted into each other’s arms and I cried. I don’t remember what my plans were after this, but when Peter’s parents found out I was there, they contacted my school, and in turn my parents.
The next day, unknown to me, my two uncles and my big sister were in a car coming to fetch me home. My father was too poorly to undertake such a long journey and my mother was too angry.
My final moment of freedom involved me coming out from the bathroom in the morning, seeing Peter at a distance and waving to him. Entering the dormitory, seeing my sister sitting on my bed was a massive shock. They didn’t let me say goodbye to Peter and after being bundled into the car, the long journey home began. Each mile travelled meant another knot in the restraints around me and the sound of my sobbing was only drowned out by the radio. That was until Gary Pucket and the Union Gap came on, with ‘Young Girl’, when my sobs turned into wails and uncontrollable weeping.
My mother wouldn’t speak to me when we got home, she stayed in the kitchen, cleaning anything and everything within an inch of its life. I sat, destroyed and beaten in the lounge with my father. Exhausted and quiet, staring at the floor. My father looked across at me and said, gently “You’re not my little girl anymore, are you?”
Bawling hysterically, I flung myself into his arms and stayed there, safe but imprisoned again.
563 words – Sandy Bryson