The Wilds of Williamson Park
by Mike Forde
Every so often, on a trip to Williamson Park, a child will be left behind. Most of the time, the grown-ups realise their mistake and rush back to find their beloved child. They smother their little darling in kisses and cuddles and promise never to leave them again.
Sometimes, however, in particularly large or forgetful families, the grown-ups will make it all the way home or perhaps all the way ‘til tea-time before a curiously empty chair jogs their memory. Unfortunately, by this point, it is too late. By this point, their child will have joined the Wilds of Williamson Park.
It is almost impossible to spot a Wild of Williamson Park. They live high in the treetop, only coming down to scavenge from unsuspecting picnickers, hunt by the duck pond or raid the ice-cream van. In the late evening, the smoke from their cooking fires can sometimes be seen wafting over the city as they roast a plump duck or a skewered grey squirrel.
There are no grown-ups amongst the Wilds. Some say that living in a park allows a person to stay a child all their lives. Others that when a Wild grows up, they simply wander off into the wilderness of the world beyond. Or perhaps, during the hungry winter months when the picnickers leave no crumbs, the biggest and the juiciest of the Wilds are strung up over the cooking fires and gobbled up for tea. Whatever happens to the grown-ups, the Wilds have no tellings off, no bedtimes and no rules. Nevetheless, they do have a leader.
The one they all follow is called Ness… Ness of the Wild. Her frizzy red hair comes down to her waist in knots of twigs and duck bones and her fingernails are thick with dirt and grime. Her last bath was the night before her parents forgot her, almost three years ago and an earthy pong follows in her wake.
She looks and smells the wildest of all the Wilds but that isn’t why she’s the leader. No-one voted for her or fought her for the tribe. She is the leader because her ideas are always best, her arrows always fly straight and her ice-cream raids bring the best flavours and the most sprinkles.
But most of all, Ness keeps the Wilds safe and free from the grown-ups. Every so often, from the high treetops, they watch the grown-ups with their babbling babies and toddling toddlers. Sometimes Ness even sees her own family, her brothers and her sisters and her parents playing and laughing in the park. She could climb down from the trees, back to her family. They would give her a bath and then give her a hug and she would go back to schools and bedtimes and tellings off. But she never does climb down- because Ness is a Wild and Williamson Park is her home.