Dinosaurs lived at the end of the coppice. They lurked in the shadows down there, waiting to snatch up eight year old sisters and devour them. Despite this, Mary insisted on following Ben and Harry on their expeditions through the garden fence and into the lowering mysteries of the tatty patch of elms and scrub.
Mary would scoff loudly at these monstrous inventions, as they negotiated the narrow path winding through the thicket, under the sticky leaves of the few surviving trees. She’d point out there were no tracks. There were always tracks. And dinosaurs didn’t fly, well some did, but they couldn’t fly through trees, could they? Why didn’t the boys just stop fibbing? She was coming along anyway.
Ben and Harry would scour the little track and dusty brambles for some plausible spoor but, as ever, all they could find were single shoes, shattered bottles of cheap cider and unpleasant clumps of tissue paper containing grown up things they didn’t want to know about.
Then, there’d be some unidentifiable sound from the other end of the coppice. Foliage would rustle, branches would sway and Mary would suddenly accept the presence of ravenous, scaly giants. With a squeak of fear, she’d take off back down the path to safety. She’d be too scared to stop and stick her tongue out at her brother and his horrid friend, until she’d gained the sanctuary of the garden, where she’d turn and pull hideous and vengeful faces in their direction.
Ben and Harry would carry on their expedition unencumbered.
One day it happened just like that, only it wasn’t the noise of an imaginary dinosaur they all heard, but something much worse. And Mary stood in her garden, pulling vengeful faces in the direction of what was rapidly becoming a crime scene.