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.

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7. VI

"Honey, I'm home!"

It was a joke that had worn out a long time ago, however my Dad clearly didn't understand that. At first, when my mum left for L.A, it was a way of pretending that none of it was actually happening for real. Dad would say it every evening when he came home from work, to try and make a joke out of the fact he didn't have a wife anymore. We would both chuckle halfheartedly, make a comment about how un-funny we were, then drift back into our normal, tedious lives; both going our separate ways. 

I guess nothing had changed much over the past few years. Me and Dad, living in this old, empty house; just waiting for something, anything, to happen. Sometimes I believed that he still thought about Mum. That was ironic, as recently, there was nothing I could do to stop thinking about Connor.

It was stupid because I barely knew the boy. But then again, I loved the feeling of actually feeling something for someone again. That candle had fizzled out a long time ago with Carter- both him and I knew that I was his arm candy and not much more than that. I didn't know why at the time it didn't seem to matter that much, but I guess that was just the effect Carter had had on me.

But somehow, this feeling in my gut that I was getting was telling me that Connor was different. Maybe Connor wasn't the same kind of guy as Carter. That was incomprehensible, yet utterly delicious. 

Dad lolloped his way into the kitchen just as I was taking the mushrooms off the heat. He threw down his battered briefcase with a sigh and sniffed appreciatively. "Smells good honey," he said, "What is it?"

"Mushroom risotto," I replied, giving them a quick stir before pouring them into the pan of cream, "Just like my mama makes."

We both laughed awkwardly at my terrible attempt at an Italian accent, and then Dad spoke.

"You've got a new boyfriend, haven't you?"

It wasn't a question. Merely a statement of fact. I kept my eyes down as I stirred the sauce slowly, rhythmically. "I don't know what you mean."

"Oh, I think you do, Alaska." He walked over and took two frosted glasses out of the cupboard. "You always cook when you've met a new guy."

I sighed. "It sounds like you're suggesting I've had loads of boyfriends."

"You know what I mean."

I looked up at Dad for a second. He was fixing his gaze an anywhere but me, steadily pouring us both a glass of coke. Boyfriends were obviously a touchy subject for him. "Dad," I said.

Slowly, very slowly, his eyes lifted to meet mine. I gestured to the spoon held dripping in my hand. "Taste."

Obediently he came over and slurped a mouthful of the sauce like a parched puppy. "Yum."

I said it so quietly I wasn't sure if he could hear me properly. "Dad, I don't have a boyfriend."

I wasn't lying. Not really. Connor wasn't a boyfriend, merely a fantasy; an indulgence to look forward to at the end of the day. All of a sudden his stiff joints seemed to relax. His tired eyes crinkled up into a smile as he rumpled my hair playfully with his workman's hands. "Good," he answered, finally. "Let's go eat."

Supper was a quiet event. Normally as we sat at the cracked wooden dining table tales of laughter and fascination would spill from our lips in a frenzied rush mixed with home-cooked food, but not tonight. A cloud hung over us, and I couldn't find myself wanting to know why. After I had finished eating, I cleared our plates, dumped them in the sink and grabbed my parka.

Dad looked up from the nature documentary he was dozing through on T.V. "Alaska," he called, "Are you going out?"

I ambled into the sitting room slowly, wanting to waste time. "I've got a job, remember?"

"Oh yeah. What time are you back?"

God, he was worried. I beamed reassuringly at him. "Around eleven. Isaac's picking me up, and he said he'll drop me home, too." Nothing. "He's waiting outside now," I said pointedly.

It worked. Dad tore his eyes away from the T.V and smiled weakly. "Say hi to the kid for me."

"Will do."

Isaac already had the heating roaring as I slammed the front door behind me and clambered into the forest green Range Rover. His deep eyes searched me, questioningly. Isaac always knew when something was wrong.

"You okay?"

My voice was barely audible next to the trees and wind whistling and wailing outside. "My Dad thinks I've got a new boyfriend."

"Oh."

We sat there, in awkward yet companionable silence as the rain trickled endlessly down the window. 

 

 

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