Nowhere

She is hanging below me, clinging to a loose rope. I reach out. She’s too far away. She is too afraid to let go, and I am too afraid to lean out any further.
She’s helpless.
The rope creaked ominously. I look up instinctively, and in that second I see the rope snap high above us. My head snaps down in an instant. Just quick enough to see her fall.
I hear my own screams mixed in with hers.
“Megan…!”
***

Lauren's friend, Megan, died five years ago and Lauren has never really gottten over it. Finally she decides that it's time for her to face her fears. She goes back to the place Megan died, hoping to find it in herslef to move on. What she doesn't bargin on is what she discovers about her death. What really happened? And what has it got to do with Lauren? All the while she finds herself falling for boy she'd have ben better off running far away from...

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3. Climbing a Waterfall

  Once everyone has been kitted up in wet suits and harnesses, we set up the river. At this point, most people are still optimistic and trying not to get too wet. That doesn’t last long.

  Gorge scrambling involves climbing up a river - waterfalls and all - being lowered into holes and jumping into massive pools. I love doing it, it gives me a thrill like nothing else, and while you’re doing it, you don’t even notice the cold, but after is a totally different story: your legs ache; your eyes are stinging from the water; you’re soaked to the skin, and absolutely freezing.

  Luckily, we’re not at that bit yet. At the bottom of the river, kids, hope from rock to rock, but soon they slip in and give up all hope of keeping their feet dry. Chloe and Finn lead our group, Chloe skipping off, winking at me while volunteering to go first, which leaves me and Tyler to bring up the rear. He refuses to look at me, but I can feel is glare burning into my back when I’m turned around. The irritation at him grows as we climb higher. Fine, he wants to play it that way. He’s not the only one who can be a jerk.

  We stop when we reach a high waterfall. I watch as Finn climbs up ahead and ties a rope to the top of the waterfall. Chloe attaches each of the kids to the rope in turn until everyone has made it to the top. Everyone goes ahead, leaving Tyler and I to take the ropes. I look down at them, deliberately step over and stalk off, ignoring them altogether. Tyler can clear them up. I’m in that kind of mood.

  I don’t watch where I’m walking and suddenly I trip over a protruding rock. I wave my hands through the air to keep my balance, but I feel my body tipping forwards. I’m thrown head first into a deep pool of water.

  The blackness closes in around me, and water forces itself into my lungs. I use my arms to push myself up, but in the water, I’m no longer sure which way is up. Suddenly my head breaks through the surface and I cough and splutter, breathing in the air my lungs crave, while spitting out the water in my mouth. I tred water, my feet unable to reach them bottom.

  I blink the water out of my eyes, and look up. Standing a few feet away, Tyler is doubled up laughing. Annoyance sears through me. I glare at him, “Are you just going to stand there laughing or are you going to help?” My voice is meant to be irritated, but it comes out as more of a croak.

  Tyler steps over to the edge of the pool, still grinning madly. My irritation seems to drain away; the smile lights up his face. And he’s smiling because of me. No, I reach up to take this hand, no, he’s laughing at me. It only takes me a second to decide.

  I grin at him, for a split second he looks confused, but then I yank hard on his arm and he looses his balance. I push myself to the side as he belly flops spectacularly into the pool. Water splashes up into my face, but I hardly notice, I’m laughing so hard. Now who’s the biggest jerk?

  He resurfaces a second later, flushed and blond hair dripping water down his face. I grin at him. He narrows his eyes at me, but I can see the laughter in them. He splashes water at me with the back of his hand. I duck under the water just in time. I come up, but this time he’s ready – he splashes me again and this time I’m not quick enough. I get a face full of water, splashing into my open mouth. My throat burns and I choke on the water, glaring up at him. He just grins some more, but I duck under the water and grab his leg, pulling him beneath the surface. Before he can react, I’m up like a shot, pulling myself up to sit at the edge of the pool, out of reach.

  I look down on him, watching as he pulls himself up to the surface. He sees my legs dangling over the side of the pool, but I pull them up and watch him dive forward, just missing them. I push myself up to standing and grab the ropes I’d left for him to pick up, slinging them over my shoulder.

  “Coming?”

  He grins and holds out a hand, “Aren’t you going to give me a hand out?”

  I raise a wet eyebrow. “I’m not going to fall for my own trick.”

  He shrugs and jumps out himself. The muscles in his arm flex as he stands up, and I have to quickly redirect my eyes as he looks up at me. “Worth a try,” Tyler walks over and then shakes out his hair like a dog. I feel the splashes of water hitting my face.

  “Eww! Tyler!” I hold up a hand to deflect the droplets whizzing through the air.

  He grabs the ropes off my shoulder and motions for me to go in front. “Ladies first.”

  I narrow my eyes at him but he just smiles innocently, as if to say ‘Don’t you trust me?’ The answer would be no, but I start forward anyway. I only make it a few steps before I feel the cold splash of water hitting the back of my head. I spin round and glare at Tyler, holding an empty water bottle, grinning at me.

  I try to glare, but the chocolate in his eyes has melted, sparkling in the sun. And my heart melts along with it.

 

*

 

  “Here,” Tyler hands me his coat which has mostly dried, and puts it around my shoulders. I try to smile at him, but my teeth are chattering so badly that all I can manage is; “Th-th-thanks.” I wrap my arms around myself to keep the warmth in. I’m seriously regretting our swim now. My throat is killing me and my legs are about to give way beneath me. We’re walking back to camp, and I swear it wasn’t this far when we came. Or maybe it just seems longer because now all I want to do is get back to the cabin and shower off.

  I glance up at Tyler, walking alongside me. He must be freezing now without his coat - he’s just as wet as me – but somehow he doesn’t shiver, even though the slightest breeze sends shivers down my spine. His blond hair is still plastered to his forehead. I smile slightly.

  I hope he doesn’t ask for his coat back.

  Maybe Chloe was right, maybe he does like me, he just had a funny way of showing it. I almost want him to put his arm around me, pulling me closer. Almost. Except I know that I’d be pushing it. To be honest, I’d have been pleased if he’d stopped ignoring me, but know he’s gone the other extreme and he’s actually being nice. That’s enough, for now.

  I’m lost in thought that I don’t even notice when we reach my cabin, I turn to face Tyler.

  I flinch back instinctively.

  He’s suddenly stiff and the chocolate is has harden again; cold and unwelcoming. I take a step back, feeling the force of his glare. His voice turns to ice; “You should leave, it’s not safe here. You can’t stay.” With that, he turns on his heel, and marches away from me.

  I stare after him, unmoving. I feel like we’re by the lake all over again.

  What just happened? My mind refuses to even process it. Two minutes ago he’d been wrapping his coat around me, and now he’s back to hating me again. I’m surprised by the pain in my chest. I’d just begun to think, or hope, that we were okay, that after this afternoon we’d be friends. I want so much to go back to the pool and stay like that forever, laugh and joking. I wince as I realise that I’d even hoped that we could be more than friends.

  Anger fills me, but – most of it – isn’t even directed at Tyler. Instead I’m angry at myself. Why was I so stupid? I was determined to hate him as much as he hates me, but why can I not even manage that? I shouldn’t have let myself be fooled by him. He’s just a player. A jerk. I knew that from the first time I met him, so why do I still like him so much? Why do I still cling on to every last hope that he likes me? He’s been nothing but trouble anyway. I should forget about him. If he can’t make his mind up whether or not to hate me, then that’s his problem.

  I turn and storm into the cabin, slamming the door behind me, the sound reverberating through the thin walls. I push open the door of the room I share with Chloe, letting it bounce of the wall behind.

  Chloe looks up. “Oo, someone’s in a bad mood.”

  I realise I still have Tyler’s coat on and I throw it off, into a corner of the room, where it lies pitifully on the floor. I kick off my shoes and they join my coat. I fall onto the bed, getting the duvet wet. I’ll regret that later, but right now, I couldn’t care less.

  “I hate Tyler.”

  “Oooo,” Chloe sits up on the edge of her bed. “Tell me everything.”

  I pull up my legs up to my chest protectively, I don’t feel my like telling Chloe about what happened, but I suppose I have to. “Not much to tell. He’s a total jerk, end of conversation.”

  She frowns uncharacteristically, “But you were walking back together.”

  “I know.” I sigh. Well, it was going fine, he was actually talking to me, hell, he even smiled at me.” I feel the now familiar pang in my chest. “But then, we got back an he just turned all cold again. He told me I had to leave.”

  “He said what?” Chloe shrieks, almost falling off her perch on the bed, “He told you to leave, just like that?”

  “Yeah,” I try to keep the pain and confusion out of my voice.

  Chloe looks confused enough for the both of us. “It’s like you’re talking to a totally different Tyler.”

  “Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a totally different Tyler.”

  Chloe jumps up, “I’m going to talk to Finn.”

  “No!” Panic threads through me. I don’t want it to look like I care. I don’t want him to know how badly I like him.

  Chloe laughs at my reaction, “Don’t worry, I wont ask about Tyler.” I breathe out in relief. “Much.”  She rushes out of the door before I can stop her, laughing all the way out of the cabin.

  “Chloe!” But she’s already gone. I sigh in frustration.

  I stalk into the bathroom, slam the door and turn on the shower. The spray hits the screen and I strip off my clothes, I avoid looking in the mirror. I’m disgusted at myself; I’m here to get over Megan, not tie myself down. I’m already in too deep just by being friends with Chloe – there is no way I’m getting closer to Tyler. Even if he liked me – which he obviously doesn’t – then it wouldn’t work out. I wouldn’t let it.

  I climb into the shower and let he hot water wash out all the tension from my body. I feel myself relax and my muscles ease. Eventually I look down at my hands and find them wrinkled. I sigh and reluctantly step out of the shower. I look around the small en-suite and realise I haven’t got any dry clothes. I wrap a towel around me, and sneak into the bedroom. Chloe wasn’t back yet - I scowl to myself. She better not say anything. I rush over to my suitcase, pull out shorts and a tank top then run back into the bathroom, bolting the door behind me. I shouldn’t have to sneak around my room, but I knew from experience, that no one is safe at camp. Even in their room. I grimace at the memory.

  I’m about to open the door of the bathroom, but something stops me. Maybe instinct. I hesitate for a second, and then I press an ear to the door. There is a muffled sound coming from the other side, but I can’t make out what it is. Or who. Chloe? No, it can’t be - I’d have heard her come in; there’s no way I can miss her. I inch the door open, just a fraction, but wide enough to see the shape of someone kneeling down beside my bed.

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