Saving Kate

Vianne, Kate and Colin have been friends forever. But nothing can last forever, as Kate falls apart and Colin does his best to fix her. But when he fails, Colin's world collapses and takes him with it. Vianne is left with one friend dead and another as good as. Looking back eight years later from Cordoba, Spain, Vianne recalls all this. At the arrival of someone she never thought would look at her again, Vianne finds out that to truly understand the present, you must first know the secrets of the past.

And secrets there are.


2. The Change

It was a Tuesday in September, the day Kate was to get back from Georgia with her family. I had been clamouring to go around to her place at 3, the moment they got home. But Ben had a bake sale and I had to pick him up and watch him until Mum got home. I was so busting to leave that I waited by the mailbox at the end of the drive and bolted the moment I saw Mum’s car turn into our street.

But at Kate’s house, Millie, her little sister, said that she’d already gone off with Colin. My stomach surprised me by sinking a little bit. Why was I worried? Why did I suddenly feel like I had to find Colin and Kate? Why did I want to find them but at the same time not at all? I think my stomach knew more than I did as I slipped round the back of the school to the creek.

The creek runs by a sandy bank that has trees that clear two feet before the water. The trees are thick so you can’t see the water or the bank from the school fence. Anybody else would have heard the voices and stopped, but I kept running through the trees, bursting onto the bank, feet sinking into the sand and-

Colin was sitting with Kate between his legs. They were kissing.

The sight was so absurd I think I laughed out loud and that’s how they heard me.

“Shit, Vee.” Colin wriggled out from under Kate who wouldn’t look at me.

“I….Millie told me that you guys….I’ll just go.” I bolted, feeling dirty and intrusive.

They caught up with me in the clearing between the school fences and the trees. I saw the pair of them, Kate so pretty and filling all her clothes, a new anklet from Georgia glinting and jingling on her. Colin, hands that were not a boys, but things that were meant to do gentle acts, like coaxing baby animals – or healing Kate. I saw how right they looked caging her white, slender ones. I suddenly felt very ugly and lumpy in my trackies and sweater, even though the pair had never seen me in anything else.

“Vee, we don’t want to hurt you. We won’t even do stuff when you’re around, right Katie?” Kate nodded but didn’t lift her head. Colin glanced back at me, pleading with me through his eyes. Please let this work, they said, she needs this. She needs me to be strong and there for her.

Of course she needed him. She needed strength. I didn’t. I was the strong one, the one who didn’t need looking after, who didn’t need to be handled with care. Please, Vee. This’ll save her.


But in the end, it didn’t. Nothing could. Kate had been breaking right in front of us. Shedding who she was like a skin. Shedding until there was nothing left by raw, pink, naked skin. Nowhere to hide, no sanctuary or reassurance, she froze in the blinding blizzard of stress, being skinny, being cool, being good.


And so, on the 24th November, 2004 Kate died.

 At 2 am, my phone vibrated on my ear scaring the shit out of me.

“Jesus Christ,” I moaned when I saw the time. “Hello?”


“Yes….Kate?! Shit, do you know what time it is? What are-“


A stool leg scraping on the ground and heavy, sobbed logged breathing then nothing.

“Kate! KATE?!” 

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