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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5. Not Again

  It seems to take forever for the sun to finally rise. Light streams into the small room. It’s only five thirty, but I can’t lie hear any longer. I climb out of bed, careful not to wake Chloe, and take a shower. I turn the dial to freezing, and I shiver violently as I get under the icy spray. My body screams for me to get out, but it wakes me up. Slowly my body adjusts and becomes numb. Eventually I turn off the shower and change.

  I spend as long as I can drying and brushing my hair, delaying the inevitable. After brushing my hair for half an hour I decide I really can’t put it off any longer. I tip toe out of the cabin and sit myself down on the steps outside, staring out into the trees. I close my eyes. Today is the day I have to face the nightmares.

  I block out the flow of memories. No, I’m trying to get over it. Crying wont help. I have to stay strong. Suddenly the image of young Tyler pops into my head. The way he looked at me, like he knew it was my fault, like I was the one who disserved to die for not saving her. I feel the tears welling up again, but I don’t let them fall. Tyler is so clear in my mind, but why do I have such a clear vision of Tyler when he was younger? I hadn’t seen him before this summer, had I? Why is it even bothering me so much?

  I sit there for few minutes before I catch I movement out of the corner of my eye. A shape was walking through the trees by out cabin. It freezes as it seeing me. I peer into the gloom; it’s definitely a boy... Tyler. Damn. I glare at the place I assume his eyes are. He steps out from under the shelter of the trees. He’s biting his lip, reaching forward slightly as if he wants to comfort me. I narrow my eyes, confused at his pained expression. What is with this boy?

  He opens his mouth to say something, but then thinks better of it. He closes his mouth and before I can even process what he’s doing, he runs off into the trees. I stare after him. What the hell? It all happens so quickly that I start to think that I imagined it.

  My head spins, but it’s no where near as bad as it was yesterday. What’s happening to me? I rub my head instinctively in the same place it always hurts. I’m digging myself in too deep here. I’m meant to be coming for the summer, and that’s it, but the way it’s working out I’m getting too close to people. I shake my head. I can’t let people have this effect on me. Not like with Megan.

  I don’t know how long I sit there for, but eventually the camp wakes up around me. I watch as the kids emerge from their cabins, slowly getting ready for breakfast. I see Finn coming out of the cabin opposite us. He looks around and spots me, still perched on the steps. He strides over, and I look around, thinking he might be walking to someone else, but he looks right at me.

  He smiles at me, but it somehow doesn’t reach his eyes, just like I know mine doesn’t. “Hey Lauren? How you doing?”

  “Fine.” I lie.

  “Erm...” He looks down, obviously unsure of what he’s about to say next. “About Tyler, I just wanted to tell you-”

  “Flynn!” Chloe throws open the door of the cabin and Finn stops mid-sentence, but I just stare at him. What does he want to tell me about Tyler? What was so important that he had to tell me? Finn shoots me an apologetic look before smiling at Chloe, “Hey Chlo.”

  “Chlo?” She raises an eyebrow

  He shrugs, “It’s shorter.”

  “Chloe’s already a short name.” She grins anyway, obviously pleased with the nickname.

  I’m not interested, I want to know what Flynn was about to say; why won’t he tell me in front of Chloe? Then I shake my head. No, I’m not supposed to give a damn about Tyler anymore. I don’t give a damn about Tyler anymore.

  Chloe and Finn chat for a bit longer before we all go off to breakfast. Tyler isn’t there yet, and I sigh with relief. I can’t face him. Tori shoots me poisonous looks across the room, but I try to ignore her. I slide onto a seat next to Finn with my toast, when Yasmin appears at our table.

  “Hey guys! You up for some high ropes today?”

  Tim grins, “Yeah.” Chloe just laughs at his reaction, but Yasmin’s eyes are firmly planted on mine.

   She keeps up her friendly exterior, but I know now that it isn’t here only side. As she looks at me, all I can think is the same as yesterday; she knows. Inside my stomach squirms and I suddenly don’t feel like eating the toast in my hand. Calm Lauren, calm. I take a breath and look Yasmin straight in the eye, smiling widely.

  “Can’t wait.”

  If she finds my answer strange, she doesn’t show it, instead she looks away, smiling at the other two. On the other side of Finn, Tyler sits down. Finn throws a worried glance between us, but I pointedly ignore it. Chloe doesn’t notice, but I see Yasmin’s eyes narrow slightly, flickering between Tyler and me. She doesn’t look happy.

  “Well,” She announces to our group, “I just wanted to tell you to meet me in an hour at the start of the course, we need to get harnessed up and go through all the safety procedures, excreta, excreta.”

  Chloe groans. Yasmin flashes her pearly white smile, “We don’t want anyone getting hurt, do we?” For a fraction of a second her gaze rests on me.

   She knows. If I was in any doubt before, I’m definitely not now. Breathe Lauren, I remind myself. You can do this. So what if she knows? Who cares?

  But a quiet voice in the back of my head pipes up; me.

 

*

 

  I look up at the tree in front of me. A rope ladder is attached to the tall trunk and Chloe begins to climb it ahead of me. When she’s about halfway up, put my foot on the bottom rung and pull myself up the first step. This is it. No going back now. I take a deep breath and start to climb.

  I reach the top, and look down.

  Oh god. I sway a little, and I clutch the tree for support. As I look at the forest floor, full of young face, I am automatically drawn to one.

  Tyler looks right at me. I feel like I’m in my dream all over again, looking down into Tyler’s eyes. But this time I can see the concern in his eyes. Is he actually worried about me?

  I sway again and Chloe grabs my arm to steady me. I smile gratefully. She smiles, “Don’t like heights much?”

  All I can manage is a shake of the head. This isn’t the same as my dream, but it’s all I can think about.

  “Neither, at least we’re doing it together.” She grins at me and I smile, wondering how I got so lucky as to get Chloe as my friend.  She sacrafised time with Finn to partner up with me to lead the group because she – and Finn I think, from his expression – don’t really think it’s the best idea if I go with Tyler again. I’ve just been acting weird ever since I got here, yet somehow I have some friends at least.

  We beckon up the next few people and painfully slowly we make our way along the course. I try to keep my head busy. I concentrate on my harness, checking it every time I re-clip it. I double check the other people around me too. We don’t want anyone to get hurt. Thing is I know that however often I check the clips, I know that it doesn’t mean we’re safe. Not by a long shot.

  I try to stay calm, but the closer I get to the place, the more panicked I get. I feel it rising steadily inside me and it must show because just a few trees away from the place it happened, Chloe stops me. “Are you okay?” I nod, but she shakes her head disbelievingly, “Lauren, I know something’s up, just tell me.”

  “I- I- I don’t know if I can do it.“ A single tear streaks down my face.

  Chloe looks really worried now, “Lauren, what can’t you do?”

  “This.” I gesture around us.

  “It’ll be okay.” She still looks confused, but she lets it go. “We’ll talk later, okay?”

  “Okay.” I agree, wiping away the tear, feeling stupid for crying in front of her. Now I’m going to have to either tell her the truth, or lie. I don’t particularly want to do either.

  Chloe turns around and I reluctantly follow her. Before I know it, we’re here. I take one step on the wooden platform, identical to all the others, except for the memories that come with it. I look down at the forest floor. The image of Megan’s broken body appears in my head, and it won't shift. All can see is her body, lying there on the floor. All I can do is stand there, tears finally beginning to fall in rivers. Megan...

  I hear a choking noise, and I look up suddenly aware that I’m still on the platform surrounded by people. I realise the sound must have come from me. I quickly wipe my eyes away, not daring to look at Chloe. She is already about to step onto the first of several logs suspended in the air, acting as stepping stones through the trees, but she turns and looks at me.

  “Lauren!” She gasps, “Lauren, what’s the matter, what’s wrong.”

  I can only look up at her our eyes latching onto each other. I stare into her hazel eyes, and in that instant I know something is going to happen. I can feel it.

  Chloe takes a step towards me. “Lauren...?”

  It all seems to happen in slow motion. Chloe’s foot slips from the log beneath her. She reaches out instinctively to grab onto the rope above her, but she’s not quick enough. The wire slips through her fingers, and she falls down. I see the shock on her face, as she her face passes mine.

  “No!” I cry out. I lunge forwards to stop her, but I feel the jerk of the harness around my waist, refusing to let me. I struggle against it, however pointless my efforts may be.

  Please let the harness catch her, please, oh god please, I think desperately. For an instant I think my prayers are heard. Chloe is jerked up by the rope, hanging a metre below me, her harness tight around her waist. I fall to my knees on the wooden platform, not taking any notice of the commotion behind me. I reach out a hand for Chloe to grab.

  Then it happens. Just like it did last time. The rope above me groans under the weight. This time I don’t dare look up, but I look straight into Chloe’s terrified eyes. They flicker up, hearing the noise, and then look back at me.

  No, this isn’t happening, this can’t be happening.

  The rope snaps. She falls through the air, her mouth forming a perfect ‘o’ before she hits the ground.

  “NO!” I scream. “CHLOE!” I grapple with the buckles in my harness. I’m not even thinking about what I’m doing, I just need to get to Chloe; I need to see if she’s alright.

  I feel hands wrap around my waist, pulling me back from the edge of the platform. I struggle. I kick and scream, but their grip on my only tightens. I try pushing away the hands, but they don’t budge.

  I hear a soothing voice in my ear, “It’s okay; it’s going to be okay.”

  “No! No, it’s not okay! She’s going to die!” I shout. The hands stay firm around my waist and I realise there’s no point struggling; they’re not going to let me see her. I stop and fall limply into the arms, letting the tears run down my face like waterfalls.

  I put my face in my hands, pressing my palms into my eyes to try and stop the tears, but they continue to flow steadily. “Not again. Oh lord, please not again.” I whisper.

  “It will all be okay, an ambulance is on its way. She’ll be fine.”

  I ignore the voice, shaking my head. “It’s happened again. All over again. And it was my fault.”

  The truth of that hits me; Chloe wouldn’t have fallen if it hadn’t been for me. I killed my best friend. Again.

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