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.


8. Watch out

I yawn and stretch my arms above my head. It's morning. Peeling off the covers I walk over to the bathroom and take a nice hot shower to wake me up, and get rid of the alcohol stench lurking around me from Mum last night. The refreshing water trickles down my body as the pink soap bubbles and froths in my hands, and I can see the shampoo spiralling down the drain. After turning it off I search around the steamy bathroom for my towell and clothes that I did have laid out by the door for school. Wrapping the warm towel fresh from the radiator around me, I waft away the steam and go to the door to pick up my clothes...That aren't there.

"Benji!" I roar, thrusting open the door and storming over to his room, leaving the carpet behind me with wet puddles from my hair and feet which didn't have time to dry. He giggles and throws my jumper out of the doorcrack to his room. I wait. Then my shirt. I wait. Then my tights. I sigh. How come little brothers are so annoying!? When I have finally collected all my clothes I stumble to my room and shut the door. No, that's rather an understatement. I slam the door, which creates an echoing sound around the house. I hear my Mum groan, and a male voice after her. Dave. He must have stayed the night! I close my eyes and take a deep breath to stop me from exploding. It's been just over two months since Dad died and she's already sleeping with another guy?

I pull on my school uniform hastily, quickly brushing at my wet hair, not bothered to use a hairdryer on it. I run downstairs, grabbing a slice of toast, and Benji is yet again waiting by the table, in which he stands up from when I enter, pulling on his shoes whilst I do mine one handed, the toast in my other hand. We wave goodbye to Mum who's pressed against the kitchen counter by Dave, their lips firmly against each other. Benji goes 'ewwwwww' and I laugh, closing the front door behind us.

"Let's hope we both have a better day today," I say as we walk along, side by side. Benji nods his head, as if he hadn't thought about what had happened yesterday until now. And to be honest, I hadn't either. I don't even know if Ruby will sit beside me in registration, let alone talk to me at break. But I try not to worry as I approach Oceanview High, already dropped off Benji at his school.

When I enter the school, the atmosphere seems more alive. Everyone is bopping about and humming as they walk along. I see no sign of Ruby and where she might be, but suddenly I feel something pull on my sleeve, and I'm being dragged into one of the empty classrooms. It's only when I get a chance to look in the right direction, that I notice it's Colton, his hair combed perfectly, and his smile wide.

"Hey," he says to me, as we both stare out to the crowded corridor to the left of us, before facing each other again.

"Hi," I say, trying to pretend that I hadn't freaked out over the text messaging last night.

"So," he says, pushing his hand through his hair, "I was thinking...maybe...you and me...down to the beach later?" His voice is soft and calming, and at first I think 'whatever you want', but then it hits me. I haven't been to the beach in ages. The beach, of all places, he wants to go to the beach. The beach. Where I spent all my time when Dad was here, jumping in the waves, watching him sail out to sea. I try to fight back the tears as I think about it, and I do, and I know that I can't avoid the beach forever, can I? I won't be alone, I will be Colton, and it'll be fine, just fine. It won't be the same.

"Anna," Colton suddenly says, and I realise I haven't answered his question. He looks concerned as he looks down at my confused and distraught face, but then I smile, and he smiles too.

"Yeah, I mean, that's fine." I say, trying to sound absolutely sure, but he still questions it.

"No, I'm definitely sure," I say laughing, trying to swallow the bitterness forming between my teeth "I haven't been there in ages anyway."

"Cool," He says, gradually making his way out of the classroom, me following behind, "Meet you by the gate?"

"Sure," I manage to shout as we take different directions at the corridor. I head for my form room, and once I'm inside there's a bustle of arms and heads, and then I feel someone hugging me, their arms wrapped around my neck. It's only when they show their face that I realise it's Ruby, looking almost as if she's about to cry.

"Omg, I thought you weren't coming!" she gasps, trying to take a breath, "I thought you were going to stay at home because you were so upset about yesterday!" She hugs me again, her breath hot on my neck. And then she's talking again...

"Oh Anna, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to get all jealous of you and Colton, I just..." and that's when it all gets terribly wrong. I realise the whole class is staring at us, every beady little eye watching us, following us as we take a seat right at the back.

"You're, going out with Colton?" one of the girls says, her voice high-pitched and surprised, as if I'm not good enough for him.

"Er...no." I lie, knowing that this is exactly the sort of news that will travel around the school quickly in the next few hours.

"Face it, you are." someone else says.

"I wouldn't blame her, he's hot." says the girl on the desk next to me. Then, everyone's at it, asking us a load of questions and gossiping to each other about it. It's only when the teacher tries to quieten the class down that the girl in front of me turns around. Her hair is perfect, the perfect shine, but her teeth are crooked. She gives me a horrible grin.

"Watch out, that won't be the last you'll hear of it. It's gonna be all around the school once I tell everyone."

"Oh, please don't..." I start but Ruby stops me, whispering to me that if I pretend I care she's more likely to actually do it.

"Whatever." she says, flicking her hair and turning her head back to the front. Ruby sticks out her tongue just as she turns back around, and I try to hide the giggle that's approaching my mouth.

At break, I tell Ruby about what Colton had told me earlier on today. I'm munching on a Tuna Mayo again, she on a ham and cheese panini, both of us cramming our mouths full so we can barely talk. I find it funny how we can still understand each other, but we get a few weird looks from passers-by.

"Wo rawr oo gowing nen?" She asks, and I laugh, swallowing hard before I speak, the Tuno Mayo now vanished from my hand because I ate it so quickly.

"Of course I'm going! Why wouldn't I? It's Colton!" I say, and a bit too loudly too. I see a few other girls looking over at me, and I know they have heard the news already about us. I wanted to keep it a secret at first, so that me and Colton could just be, us, without anyone trying to tag along and see what we're up to, and I think Colton wanted that too. But now everything has changed. And it's only the start. I haven't even got to know Colton yet, and he hardly knows me. I've got my Mum to deal with, and my little brother to look after. I've got enough on my mind as it is to deal with social disasters. But by the end of the day I'm all hyped up for the trip to the beach, and I can't stop chattering to Ruby - I think it's almost driving her insane!

"Get a grip!" She keeps yelling at me, pulling me in to give me hugs, as she knows I need lots of luck for this to go well.

"I'm sure I'll be just fine," I reassure her, as I unlock my new locker for this year. There's a mirror on the inside door and a big space inside for my PE bag and personal belongings. I push in my kit bag, only just fitting in, and then I see something fly out from underneath it, and then drop to the floor by my feet. I look to Ruby, who stares back at me, and then I pick it up, my eyes flickering across the handwritten writing: Watch out, he's not a keeper.

I think it means Colton. He's not a keeper? I want to know its not true, I want proof of it, but there's no point in trying to find it out for myself. After all, me and Colton will be different. I may not be like all the other girls that go out with him. Plus, the piece of paper only holds those words, those six words, and nothing else. No name, no signature, nothing.


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