Corpe and Bloor

On the rural islands of Corpe and Bloor the annual Fight Week is about to begin in which champions are chosen and lives changed forever. The Fight is between a champion from Corpe and a champion from Bloor. Girls are chosen as prizes for the man who is crowned the winner of the Fight. Faith Rathbone is the unwilling prize of Corpe and the life she had always known is tipped upside down in the form of Alec McFadden, the champion of Bloor. She must decide if she can begin to hope for a life on Bloor but leave her family behind. But her fate is not her own.

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11. Nine - Alec

“Son.”        
          I am about to leave my house, to say goodbye to my family and my island before the small boat will take me and maroon me on unknown shores. Oh how I wish goodbyes never existed, for they are the hardest thing to say, and even when you’ve said them, it’s like there is still so much more left unsaid. I don’t know what is to happen, don’t think I’ll ever live my life the way that I had done. How strange it is, for when our lives are changed, or turn in an unexpected or surprising way, we suddenly wish that we had nothing more than what we used to have.
          It was one of those mornings that all I wanted to do was to stay here, to stay home. My bags have already been taken down the shore and were probably already loaded onto the boat. I have already said a quiet goodbye to my mother. She touched my cheek slightly and sighed, smiling though there were tears in her eyes. I know that it may’ve been the last time that I see her. I really hope not.
          Next to say goodbye was my brother, even if it was in his own way, and he still looked down at me, even though I am the same height as him. Now, my brother’s features are not similar to mine or my sister’s, but far more pointed and his nose was a lot longer than both of ours. I find it a rather unfortunate landmark on his face, but he uses it to intimidate everyone who merely walks past. He is tall and even though he is seventeen, he walks like he is a middle-aged man who thinks the world will bow before him. Oh poor Jonathan, how naïve you are.
          But now, just as I am about to leave, maybe for good, it’s my father’s voice that calls me back.
          “Alec, please think about this.”
          I turn to my father and give him a stare. I don’t really know what I’m trying to convey there, but there is something that he sees and it makes him sigh heavily.
          “I have to, Father.”
          His shoulders droop and he hangs his head. I have never seen him like this, and it’s unnerving. He is always the strong one, the brave one, the one who will not let any situation drag his spirits down. Now he just looks like a tired old man who has seen far too much for his brain to cope. I wonder how often my mother sees this side to him. I don’t say anything, waiting for him to speak.
          “I know you have to, for if anyone can do it, it’s you, Alec.” He shakes his head. “But I cannot bear the thought of losing both of you.”
          Was this man really my father? The man who had told me to pick myself up and make my way home after being beaten up; the man who did absolutely nothing when Jonathan disgraced the family name when he was fifteen. And here he is the weaker, inner self that he doesn’t want anyone to see. It is like all his talk and his swag is armour, to hide a soft and pale sea creature inside. It is heart-breaking to see a one who stands so tall, crumble into an old, weary man.
          Without really thinking about what I am doing, I cross the room to him and give him an awkward but tight hug around his shoulders. Father leans against me, like he cannot hold his own weight up anymore. I hold onto him for a second more, before letting go and catching his eyes. They are a strange dark green that I often see in the mirror. In truth, I am him, only many years younger. I am the second son to Arthur McFadden, but I know now, for the first time, I am not the back-up.
          I whisper a quiet goodbye, and then take in the hall once more; everything that can be is white; the staircase, the walls, the picture frames. I look at each of my ancestors in turn and feel like I am not going out to Corpe alone, but I am bringing them all with me. This gives me a spurt of courage and I am out the door, heading to the boat.

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