Frozen Sea

Sixteen-year-old Alaska's whole world is slowly but surely starting to crumble. Her boyfriend is charged with the rape of her best friend, and she is staring at a long, lonely summer of secrets and unimaginable pain. Losing herself in surfing and her night shift at the local pub seems like the only way to pretend none of it is actually happening for real. Until she meets Connor, a mysterious musician on a holiday of inspiration, Alaska finally realises that sometimes the only way to move on is to face up to reality.


5. IV

'What are you up to this summer, then?'

That one sentence from my mother's email was the one that stuck out the most. I hadn't ever told her about my break up with Carter, or the incident that caused it; but somehow I think she could tell that something was up by the tone and general lack of the emails sent at that particular time.

I always knew my mother was telepathic, at least clairvoyant, though this was something else entirely. I took a sip from my mug of black coffee balanced precariously on my history textbook and began to type a reply. Four months ago, I would never have taken coffee, especially black, at half nine in the evening as I would have had no chance in hell of sleeping; but now sleeping was something I tried hard to avoid at all costs anyway. As soon as my eyes closed, up popped Lily and Carter. That was definitely a big no go. When I received the email, obviously typed at great speed on my mum's blackberry in between Gucci and Burberry photo-shoots for all the typos; I had settled down to a night of studying for my history A-Level almost a whole year too early. Nowadays, whenever I felt unbalanced or began remembering the past, that's when the books came out. Somehow, if I focused on my schoolwork, magically this had a kind of numbing effect.

But tonight, it somehow wasn't working.

I read over the email I had began to write back:

'Hi Mum,

I'm great, really. You need to stop worrying. Or else you'll get worry lines. That isn't quite what Burberry's after, I don't think.

Great news about the apartment, mum. I knew you'd spend the money on something substantial. I just wish you'd give Harley something substantial, too. Like a kick in the...

No, really, I'm happy for you too. I really am. Really. Say... hi to Harley from me. And put emphasis on the italics, so it sounds like a sarcastic teenager, which I am, according to him.'

I stretched for a moment, releasing my tense shoulders. Rant about Harley over. I took a deep breath and continued:

'And as for your last question, I really have no idea. Dad says I should get a job or something. I'm not sure about that, yet.

Oh well. Speak soon. Love you.

Alaska x'

All the emails always went the same way. Me being supportive of every eccentric purchase mum made, her asking me tiresomely tedious questions awkwardly as if she were really interested, me being rude about her millionaire of a boyfriend... sometimes it was just so repetitive. It was as if she weren't really my mother, just a long lost acquaintance it was my duty to keep in contact with.

I took another sip of my coffee, trying to clear my head. I hit the send button, and immediately regretted it. God, I sounded so depressed. Even though I knew she didn't really care, I still knew she'd worry. She knew it would be her fault if I committed suicide or something. Ever since that day my mum had moved away she had felt so alienated from me. She didn't belong to my world any more. Hot-shot supermodel living in L.A, and lonely dumped teenager stuck in isolated inclement Cornwall. It sounded like something off a Channel 4 documentary.

I pushed myself away from my desk and surveyed my bedroom, my eyes catching every single detail. One thing my dad had gotten right about the whole 'having your daughter move in' thing was the room. Painted a smoky blue, with dream catchers and postcards pasted all over the walls and turquoise ruffled curtains, none of it matched. But it did, in a weird sort of way. The way my room was furnished now was in complete contrast to the way my mum had designed my old room back in London. Everything had been pink, white or a marbled mix of both; the curtains had been 100% silk imported from Paris, the bed was vintage and hard as rock, the walls only decorated in pictures of pink and white things.I remember it being suffocating. Scary. Like a giant pink and white monster had vomited it's innards all over the room and made it it's home. 

Now I felt free.

I grabbed my empty mug and made my way down the stairs. Dad was lounged on the patchwork sofa covered in his old ratted quilt, an empty beer can in his hands, a late night news item on the T.V. He was asleep; his face a perfect picture of utter serenity. I reached over to take his can and his eyes suddenly opened: somewhat sleepily, mostly startled. I smiled.

"Hey, Dad. I just thought I'd take this out to the kitchen."

"Thanks, honey." He reached out and gave me the can. "I thought you'd be in bed. I have something to tell you."

I sat down next to him, balancing the beer can on the edge of my thumb and forefinger. "Me too. Mum called."

His eyes narrowed slightly, and he turned to face me. "Again? What about?"

"She was asking me what I was doing this summer."

"That's what I was going to talk to you about."

Now it was my turn to narrow my eyes. "Go on."

Dad caught the note of dread in my voice. He grabbed my hand and held it on his chest, next to his heart. We both knew that this gesture meant, 'Stop. Give me a chance.' He pleaded with his eyes. "Oh Alaska, it's nothing bad! It's Isaac."

My heart lifted slightly. This couldn't be bad. "What about him?"

"He's offered you a job."

I groaned, and heaved myself off the sofa. "How many times, Dad? I don't want a job."

Dad followed me to the kitchen. "It's not a job job, Alaska." I chucked the can into the bin.

"Think about it like an... experience."

I scoffed. "An experience? So like... I'm not getting paid?"

Dad laughed, his shaggy hair falling into his eyes, as if he thought i had taken the bait. "No, of course you're getting paid. And it's just in the evening. We'll still have plenty of time in the day to hang out."

It was all so ironic. I wanted to yell, "What time?! We never spend any time together any more!" But instead I smiled. "Fine."

Dad almost fell over he was so thrilled. "You'll take it? Oh honey, that's great!"

"Let me speak to Isaac in the morning," I said, "By the way, what's the job?"

"The Bush. Bush Inn. It's a really lovely place, you know."

I nodded, remembering. "Mmm. Wasn't that the place we went for my fourteenth?"

"Probably. That place is great for occasions. Isaac said there's a great atmosphere there in the evenings, and the staff are really friendly..."

I put up a restraining hand. "All right, Dad. You don't have to sell it when I've already bought it."

Dad smiled, and rumpled my hair. "Thanks, honey. It means a lot that you're trying to start again."

I nodded, suddenly awkward. It was always awkward when we talked about Carter, which thankfully wasn't very often.
 "Alright, Dad. Night."

"Night, sweetheart."

I clambered up the stairs just as dad switched to a sci-fi. I rolled my eyes. God, he was so predictable. As I shut down my computer I case a look towards my reflection in the mirror. No wonder I hadn't been able to hit back as fast as other girls in the same position. I simply wasn't pretty enough. Here I was: dressed in mangy grey tracksuit bottoms and an over sized Vegas T shirt, my hair held in position by an old scrunchie I wore in primary school. Maybe the job would be a new start. Maybe I would gain some of my confidence back, my dignity.

Maybe I would learn to forget Carter.

Just as easily as he forgot me.

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