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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2. Friends and Enemies

  I stand with Chloe in the dark woods. She shivers and pulls her coat around her. “I hate this bit; I swear the first day is the worst.”

  I laugh at her expression, “It’s not that bad.”

  “Yes it is! I hate the dark.” Chloe stares at me, wide eyes, prominent check bones and brown hair falling down to her waist.

  I laugh again. Yasmin told us that we were meant to get to know the other people in our cabin. Her idea of a ‘getting to know you better’ activity was to go an adventure trail through the woods. At night. Blindfolded. As grim as it may sound now it reminds me of the times Megan and I did the same, laughing the whole time.

  “How are they even meant to get to know each other if they can’t see each other?”

  “I know, right.” Chloe laughs and it’s such a mad laugh that I can’t help laughing too. We watch the unfortunate members of our cabin stumble around in the dark, shouting at each other and swearing as they walk into trees. Chloe and I are meant to be directing them, but it’s more fun just to watch them struggle. One girl trips over a tyre they’re meant to be weaving around, landing in the mud. Chloe doubles up laughing and I join her, but I watch her try to stand up again and take pity on her. I walk over and reach out to haul her up. She yanks of the blindfold and instead of saying thanks, like I thought she would, she glares at me. “I could have done it myself.”

  She storms off to join her friends who’ve also pulled off their blindfolds and are laughing at her. “You’re welcome,” I say bitterly to her back.

  Chloe appears next to me, smiling. “They’re right bitches this year.”

  I nod, “I swear I wasn’t like that when I was thirteen.”

  She laughs, “We weren’t that small either.”

  “We probably were.”

  “Nope, they’re definitely getting smaller every year.”

  I roll my eyes, “Sure.”

  Half an hour later, most of the kids have taken off they’re blindfolds and have separated into groups, talking, hiding behind trees in case we spotted them, even though we weren’t bothered what they were doing as long as they left us alone.

  “Where’ve you come from?”

  “London.”

  Chloe’s eyes nearly pop out of her head. “London?! Wow, I have always wanted to live in London! What’s it like?”

  “Erm... Busy; never a quiet moment.”

  She grins, “And the shops?”

  I could have predicted that question. “Great, but after you’ve lived there a while the novelty wears off.” To be honest, I’ve never really wanted to go anywhere in London. I preferred just to sit in my room, keeping myself to myself. Maybe it would have been different if I’d had any friends, but as it is, I’ve not seen much of the shops.

  “Wow, I have to come and visit you some time.” I smile. Me and Chloe had hit it off from the moment Yasmin introduced us in the canteen, when we’d all been told to get into our groups, and then we were lead off down the track by an enthusiastic leader called Mike, who told us all what we were going to do. “How come you’re here then? Seriously, if it was me, I’d be spending my summer in London.”

  I shrug, as much as I like her, I don’t think I’m prepared to tell anyone about Megan, for the first time, nobody knows about her. People start to act differently around you once they realise your best friend died. “I used to come here when I was younger, I haven’t been for years and I missed it.” Sort of true. “What about you?”

  “First time I came here my mum made me come, kicking and screaming, because she said my life shouldn’t revolve around my phone, make up and clothes.” She pulls a face. “So she packed my worst clothes, took my phone and make up off me, and sent me here.”

  I laugh, “So why did you stay?”

  “I met Tori, who has pretty much been through the same thing as me, and it turns out this place isn’t so bad if you have a laugh. We’ve been coming back ever since.” She’s mentioned Tori, her old roommate, but I’ve only seen her from a distance. Skirt, ballet pumps, and covered in make up – I could tell even from a distance. I don’t like her already. “And I’ve found my outdoorsy side.”

  A shape emerges from the trees next to Chloe, and the silhouette of Tori comes to stand next to her. Speak of the devil, and he appears.

  “Did I hear my name?”  Tori’s eyes flash at me in the dark, she looks me over a sneer on her face, then she not-so-subtly turns her back to me and faces Chloe as if I’m not there.

  Chloe frowns at her, “I was just telling Lauren how we first came here.”

  Tori continues to talk as if she hadn’t spoken. “Have you seen Tyler yet?”

  Chloe laughs, “Not yet.”

  “I’m going to go look for him, coming?”

  Chloe looks torn between looking for whoever Tyler is, and staying with me. “I can’t be bothered. You’ll see him later anyway.”

  “Fine.” Tori turns to glare at me, as if it’s my fault, and then marches off into the dark.

  I glance at Chloe, and she shrugs, “She’s just in a bad mood, she’s not always such a bitch.”

  I raise an eyebrow, but she just laughs.

  Yasmin appears behind us, making me jump. “How’s it going?”

  “Yasmin!” Chloe throws her arms around the woman. “I haven’t seen you for ages.”

  “A whole year.” She smiles at me over Chloe’s back.

  Chloe lets go and glares at Yasmin in a mock serious way. “I’m afraid to say that the trail hasn’t really worked.”

  Yasmin rolls her eyes, “Does it ever?”

  I look around, but I can’t see any one, they’ve obviously gone off somewhere to talk. “Well, at least they’re bonding.”

  “Yeah, this never lasts long, but Mike insists on doing it every year, just leave them to it, we’ll go back in a bit.” I glance at my watch, it’s already nearly midnight. Yasmin sees my surprise. “We have to keep them all out late on the first night so they’ll sleep, all the other days we keep them so busy they’re totally out of it by the time they reach their beds.”

  Chloe giggles, “We should leave them out her and let them find they’re own way back.”

  Yasmin smiles. “Wow. Genius. We can let them get lost and just leave them until the end of camp. Character building.”

  “Yasmin,” A voice comes out of the dark trees - Mike strides over to us emerging from the trees. “We’ve got a couple of runaways.”

  Yasmin sighs, “I’m coming now.” She smiles quickly at me and Chloe before turning and following and being engulfed by the darkness.

  “Good luck.” Chloe calls after her, she looks at me, my expression a mixture of confusion and amusement. “Yasmin’s been here the last few years; she’s more like one of us than a leader.”

  I look around at the abandoned blindfolds hanging on the trees and then at empty adventure trail, then at Chloe.

  “Shall we round them up?”

  She shrugs, “Why bother?” She raises her voice and shouts into the apparently empty woods. “We’re going back now!”

  Suddenly people appear from everywhere: behind bushes, trees, two boys even jump down from their perch on a branch four meters up a tree. I smile at Chloe and she grins back.

 

*

 

  Chloe drags me into the canteen for breakfast. She heads straight over to a table on the far side of the room. Two boys our age are already sitting there; one of them has ginger hair cut short, and a splattering of freckles all over his face, the other I recognise even before he turns around. The boy from the lake. I groan. Chloe looks at me, laughing – I swear she laughs more than any other person I’ve ever met – “What’s up with you?” She doesn’t even wait for an answer, sliding in to sit opposite the ginger haired boy, leaving me directly opposite the boy. Why did he have to be so damn good looking?

  “Hey guys, this is Lauren, my new roommate.”

  The ginger boy grins, “Hey Lauren, I’m Finn.” He nods to avoiding-looking-at-me-because-he’s-a-jerk next to him, “This is Tyler.”

  “Hi,” I hardly glance at Tyler, and glance at Chloe instead, who’s watching Finn out of the corner of her eye. “Mind if I sit with you?” I’m already sitting down, but I need something to say.

  “Sure, if you can keep up with out superior intellect.” He winks at me.

  “Ooh, big words.” Chloe teases and she turns to me. “He reckons that because he is one year older that makes him oh so great compared to us lowly seventeen year olds.” She rolls her eyes, sarcasm layering her words.

  “I’m only stating the truth, and you know I’m right. You just don’t want to admit it.”

  “Right… sure…”

  “She’s just jealous.” Finn says to me in a stage whisper.

   Chloe takes a swing for him, “Shut up!”

  While Finn and Chloe argue – the most flirtations arguing I’ve ever heard- , I watch Tyler, he looks uncomfortable. He keep fidgeting and looking over his shoulder then back down to the table. I thought he was just feeling awkward at our arrival, but when I look up I can see Tori and another girl making their way towards us and see his awkwardness is actually annoyance. He looks as if he’s bracing himself for something. Sure enough;

  “Tyler,” Tori says, sliding in next to Tyler, pressing up against him. I realise this must be who she was looking for last night. “How’s it going?”

  Tyler looks as if he wants the earth to swallow him whole. I would have laughed if I hadn’t felt an overwhelming feeling of jealousy, which is utterly ridiculous.

  “Tori,” Tyler greets her; he sounds as awkward as he looks. I turn to look at Frankie, who is biting her lip and she looks like she might burst out laughing. She glances at me, which makes me feel like laughing again. One look at Tim makes us both crack.

  He’s pulling a face at Tori, behind her back. We all start laughing, all the while Tori gives us her best death glare. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in, well, five years.

  “Well, Tori,” says Finn, “you certainly know how to provide the meal time entertainment.”

  “Shut up.” She snaps.

  “Aw, lighten up Tori.”

  “We’re going, I don’t want to hang around with you lot anyway.” Then she remembers Tyler, “Apart from you, you’re welcome anytime.” She amended in a voice like honey, before storming off out of the room.

  “Lovely,” says Tim, rolling his eyes.

  “She’s alright…” Chloe starts to protest feebly but she covers her mouth with her hand to stifle her laughter as Finn swears at Tori’s retreating back. “Finn!”

  “Yes?”He smiles innocently.

  “You can’t do that!”

  He shrugs, “I just did.” He looks over at Tyler, who looks calmer now Tori’s gone. “I still don’t get why you just don’t go out with her. She couldn’t be more obvious.”

  Tyler shrugs, “I don’t like her like that.” He glances up, and for a fraction of a second our eyes meet, but he quickly averts his gaze.

  “Or at all,” adds Finn in an undertone.

  Chloe giggles. “What are you doing this morning?”

  Finn pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket, and consults it. “’Gorge Scrambling all day with Cabin Two.’” He looks up, “I guess we’re spending the rest of the day together.”

  Chloe blushes and smiles up at Finn, “Great,” I resist the urge to roll my eyes; she couldn’t be more obvious. Unthinkingly I glance at Tyler and he looks back at me, unblinking. A sudden flash of anger crosses the chocolate. I sit back, surprised by the intensity of the anger.

  “Ty? Hello, earth to Tyler?” I look up in surprise; Finn is standing up, tugging at Tyler’s arm. “Come on, we need to drag our lot out of bad and deliver the bad news.”

  Tyler’s eyes dart up, as if he’d been miles away, “What? Oh right, yeah, I’m coming.” He stands up, and turns and follows Finn out of the cabin without a backwards glance.

  I hear Chloe sigh wistfully next to me.

 

*

 

    We’re walking down to the river for the day, leading our group. I reach over to break a bit off Chloe’s muffin.

  She slaps my hand away, “Oi, hands off. You should have got your own.”

  I nod ahead of us, “So, what’s going on with you and Finn?” Finn and Tyler are walking ahead of us; my eyes keep getting drawn in their direction, however much I try to take my mind off Tyler. What is his problem?

  “What do you mean?”

  I laugh, “Well it’s kind of obvious.”

  She raises an eyebrow, “As obvious as Tori?”

  “Okay, not that obvious.”

  She laughs. “Nothings going on,” I cross my arms over my chest and raise my eyebrows, disbelieving. “Alright, I fancy him. So shoot me.”

  I grin. “I knew it.”

  Chloe’s eyes widen, “You better not tell anyone, especially not Tori, I would never here the end of it.”

  “I promise.”

  She smiles, “Good.” There’s a pause. “On the subject of boys...” Chloe looks at me slyly out of the corner of her eye.

  Ergh. I know what’s coming, but I play innocent. “What about them?”

  She doesn’t beat around the bush. “What about you and Tyler?” I just shrug. “You like him don’t you?”

  “No-”

  “You so do and don’t even try to deny it.”

  I sigh, “He hates me.”

  She laughs, “No he doesn’t - did you see the way he was looking at you?”

  My heart summersaults for a second, but then it settles back into place, reality setting in. “Yeah, he was glaring at me.”

  “Was he?” Chloe looks surprised.

  “Yeah, you were just too busy with Finn to even notice.”

  “Oops.” But she doesn’t look the least bit sorry.

  I consider for a second, and then I tell her about what happened by the lake, when I finish she frowns. “Whoa, he’s not usually such a jerk.” Well at least we both agreed on him being a jerk.

  “What, so he’s only a jerk around me?” I try to make my voice indifferent, but I can feel the hurt setting in. What have I ever done to him?

     Chloe frowns more and then an idea occurs to her, lighting up her face. “Hey, maybe that’s his funny way of telling you he like you.”

  I raise an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

  She grins, “Yeah, you know how girls go all weird and giggly around boys they fancy, well, maybe this is just his way of showing it.”

  I glance back up at Tyler ahead of us, green light speckling his back and head, just then he turns around, as if sensing my eyes on him. His eyes meet mine, but he turns back around quickly and walks away faster. I look at Chloe, who’d been watching. “No. He hates me.”

  “Well, make him not hate you.”

  “How? And anyway what about Tori?”

  She shrugs, “He doesn’t like her.”

  “But if I’m friends with Tyler, Tori will see me as a treat, and if I’m friends with Tori, I can’t be friends with Tyler. I can’t win.” I haven’t been here a day, and things have already gotten complicated.

  “Well you just have to decide who you’d rather be friends with.” She pauses, then corrects herself, “Or not have as an enemy.”

  Great.

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