Out at sea

Anna is a young girl who suffers from the loss of her father out at sea. She tries to cope with everyday life: helping her single mother and younger brother Benji to make the most of life, though it all gets too much. With the stress and anxiety of moving schools, Anna is anything but fine. Her long trips up to the beach are tiring, but they're worth it when she gets to look out and imagine her Dad beside her. But everything seems to result in tears, and Anna realises she's stayed strong for too long.


5. Ruby

I wake to an abrupt start, as I hear a loud crash from downstairs, something smashing into pieces. I sit bolt upright, pushing my feet into my slippers, and grabbing my dressing gown, running for the stairs. My feet move quickly down the steps: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7...jump! I pound to the floor, and skid to a halt as I see broken glass spread across the kitchen floor, my Mum swaying slightly from side to side, trying to keep herself up.

"What do you think you're doing?" I say, trying not to raise my voice as to wake Benji up.

"Ooh baby, just pass me that glass over there will you?" She says, stumbling, and trying to reach for the glass. I stand in her way, and she tries to push me.

"No, Mum, no more," I say boldly, seating her in a chair, the horrific stench of alcohol killing my sense of smell. I hold my nose, stepping away and grabbing the glass, chucking the rest of the vodka down the sink. I turn around, to only notice my Mother standing up tall, an angry face on.

"What do you think...you're doing...Anna...that's mine...I need it!" She shouts, and I try to dodge out of the way as to not get hurt.

"You've had enough," I try to say, but it's not much louder than a squeak. It's then that it all gets terribly worse.

"Anna?" I hear a voice behind me. I turn around to see Benji, a worried look on his cute little face. "What is wrong with her?" I try to guide him back upstairs, keeping a close eye on Mum, but I know Benji has alreaady worked it out too.

"Don't worry, everything will be ok," I assure him, pushing him back into his room, "Just go back to sleep, and I'll, I'll, do something to stop her." I go back downstairs as soon as Benji has done what he has been told, to see my Mother lying horizontally on the carpet, passed out. Rubbing my forehead I think to myself that I should have known that was going to happen. Now what was I going to do?

I search through the pile of papers on the dining room table, looking for something, like a number, that might come in handy. I see magazines, piles of them, filled with 'tips on how to be that woman every man wants'. As if. Then, I come across a phone book, numbers scattered randomly across it. I see the one I need almost immediately, the only person that I can call for help, even if I don't want to: Mum's date. My fingers trembling, I dial the number on the phone, just like earlier on with Benji. I feel as if this is what I'm meant to do, save other people and let them rely on me to always save the day. I feel annoyed, depressed, at how I'm the one to do everything. It's early afternoon, and I'm supposed to be at school, but Mum is just ruining everything. She always has, ruined everything.

His number is showing on the small phone screen. I check its all correct, and hesitantly press the call button. And wait...

"Dave speaking..." I hear the husky voice coming down the phoneline. I gulp.

"H-hi...It's Anna, Lindsay's daughter...I was just, erm...wondering if you could come over here and help me..." Silence. "If...only if that's okay with you..." I stutter.

I hear a yawn coming through the phone, and then his confused voice. "Oh, sure- Anna? What is it you need help with?"

I pause before telling him. He seems to understand and agrees to come round as soon as possible. I quickly get dressed and go up to check Benji who is still sleeping, just before I hear a knock on the door.Taking a deep breath I unlock the door and let Dave in. He looks tired and has dark circles under his eyes. Dave's eyes dart over to my Mother, who is slumped down on the floor beside the kitchen table. He nods at me awkwardly and I realise I'm blocking his way into the house, so I shuffle to the side while feeling my cheeks burn crimson.

Dave carefully lifts up my Mum at ease, and places her on the couch. Cowering by the door I hear him speaking softly to her.

"How long has she been like this?" He asks me as he holds her hand in his.

"Since I called you, so about  five minutes I guess." I reply, and decide to step in a little closer since he seems to be acting much less threatening than he was when I last saw him, when he was clearly under the influence.

"Well it was good that you called me as soon as it happened. I appreciate you for that." He said kindly and smiled at me. "I guess we should just leave her be untill she wakes up naturally. She needs her sleep anyway."

I nod. Then I hear Dave's voice again. "I'm sorry about last night. It must be hard for you, losing your Dad and then having a new man coming into your life straight after. I didn't know 'til afterwards that it had only been two months though." He has a pained expression on his face. "You know, I lost my wife and son in a car crash six years ago. It's only now that I've really started living again. So...I know what it feels like to lose someone you love. To lose two people you love." He looks up to the light and I think I spot a tear slipping down his olive coloured face- but he quickly hides it again.

It isn't long before my Mum comes back around, and I hear footsteps pattering down the stairs. I rush to the cupboard and close it while picking up one little shard of glass that I must have missed earlier while helping Dave clear it up.

Benji appears at the bottom of the stairs a moment later, washed and dressed. His hair is neatly combed, all ready for school, and I give him a hug good morning. Then, I leave him to help himself to breakfast whilst I lazily crawl up the stairs and get changed into my uniform. I feel way too tired to go to school, but I know I can't take another day off.

I join Benji at the dining table 15 minutes later where he is sitting patiently all ready to go. I grab a piece of toast and sling my bag over my shoulder and then wave goodbye to Mum who is lying on the sofa, still, a mug of hot cocoa in her hand.

"Walk safely," She calls out and we nod, before slamming the door shut behind us. I want to shout back, "Drink safely!" but I know she won't approve of it. I walk along the sidepath, Benji tracing my footsteps behind, his big rucksack on his tiny back. It's his first day of school today, and I'm surprised at his excitement.

"I'm going to make lots of new friends," he's muttering to himself, "I'm going to play in the playground and swing on the swings and slide on the slide..." I chuckle as he imagines his perfect day, and just as he finishes, we approach his school: Oceanview Junior, and I'm forced to say goodbye.

"Have a great day!" I shout, and he says that he will, running off into the playground with all the other kids. I walk slowly along the side of the fence, making sure he gets in ok, and then I speed up until I reach my school again. Once I'm inside, I head for my form room and registration with Miss Wright, and seat myself in the only free seat, which is thankfully not next to Ronny. Some other nerd has sat next to him today. It's only when I have answered my name in the register that I notice the 'invisible' girl beside me. Her hair is chocolate-brown, silky smooth, and flowing from a high ponytail. Her eyes are a beautiful blue, just like the sea, and really capture my attention.

"Hey," she says kindly, looking back at me, "I'm Ruby."



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