Run.

Years of calm.
Years of patience.
A second to prove.

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3. We

I head into breakfast at the hospice, readying myself for the jungle of hormonal teenagers each craving attention. HOLY SHIT, I GOT HIT BY A CROISSANT! Oh no no no, you did NOT just do that, John! Oh nuh-uh. I can tell he wanted my attention as his oh so innocent look is quickly replaced by an arrogant smirk when he saw me scowling at him. I know he likes me but, ew, are we in year 1 or something? Anyway, after being here for a good too weeks, and from school clique experience, I can tell that the friendship groups, yet again, have changed. It's subtle, but I still notice it. Well, Mandy and Keith got into another fight, you can tell because 1) they're not sitting together and 2) they're not ferociously trying to suffocate each other by ramming their tongues down each other's throats. Add in the fact that Keith keeps gazing longingly at Mandy, and ding ding ding we've found the one who wants reconcile their relationship. Oh, and add in the fact that Many just caught Keith and told him, in the way she does so well,

"God, stop staring at me, idiot!! Take a picture, go screw yourself, whatever the hell you want, Jesus Christ!!" 

I quickly collect my breakfast; toast, beans, and 'fresh' orange juice, and proceed to walk far, far  away from them. Unfortunately, my plans, unsurprisingly, get interrupted. 

"Hey, yo, over here, look, hey it's me, Keith!! Hey hey hey!! Hi! Yo! Whattup ma homeh?!?! Hey look! At the person frantically waving his arms!! Oh my god, honestly, just look at me at least! Oh flippin' hell! Okay, look, that's it. I'm coming over there now, you made me do this. Hi, I'm Keith, hello, and I'm standing RIGHT IT FRONT OF YOU GODDAMIT SAY SOMETHING!!!"

"Hello, Keith," I reply.

"What?!" That's all I get?! Oh hello Keith dear ahehehe." He imitates me in the funniest voice I've ever heard, sounding nasal, high-pitch, fluttering his eyelashes, and flipping his not-long-enough hair over his shoulder dramatically. I can't stop myself from bursting out laughing, and soon I'm gasping for air, and trying to stop my hair from falling into the food on the tray I'm still holding. But then Keith starts laughing wildly at me laughing, so just as I regain my breath and stop laughing, I look at him and get set off again.

Eventually, I have to sit down as I am still holding my tray, my stomach hurts from all of the laughing, and I am really hungry. I sit across from Mandy, and next to one of her friends who I recognise from teamwork activities that we do here, who sits next to Keith. You see, Mandy and Keith are my closest friends here, but it was awkward because they were dating and I was always the third wheel. But now, they're not and I really don't know what will happen to our friendship group, and to be frank, I won't even get to see if they get back together or not, as I'm leaving.

"So, girlie," Mandy starts. I never introduced myself properly, giving a different name every time I was asked. Some knew me a Katrina, some as Rhea, some as Emma, and many others. Before long, everyone got confused as to who I was and they gave up. "What was that sound last night? Did a bird run into your window or something? Oh my fucking gosh, did a rapist show up and they you were like beating the shit out of him?"

"What?" I say in shock, " No! What?! Of course, that didn't happen. Nothing really happened, I'm fine, Mandy." Nonchalantly, I continue cutting up my toast and beans.

"Gurl... Oh! Ohhh... Having so fun with John were we?" she replies knowingly, winking. I can't even begin to think why she thought that would have happened!

"Pfft - uchuch-" I just drank some of the juice when she said that, and began coughing leading to me choking. Luckily, the guy next to me was rubbing my back, so I recovered quickly.

"I don't mean that kind of fun, fille. I meant like playfighting! You know, flirting." Mandy says with mock innocence. Oh nuh-uh, don't turn this back on me for interpreting wrong. We all knew what you meant, Mandy. Including John, who just walked past our table. Oh my gosh, he just smiled at me. To be honest, I'm kind of flattered that he likes me. He's so hot, with his soft brunet hair, and his sharp blue eyes and man, his lips look so soft and -

OH MY FUCKING- I mean, I just- and I stared- and he- and I- WHA...? Oh god, he saw me staring. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap.

"DAMMIT!"

"What the hell, puella?" Mandy interrupts my thoughts.

Did I really sat that out loud? Whoops.

"Yeah, whoops." Keith says. I guess I said that out loud too. My mouth says stuff on it's own now, great. Woo, another thing to add to my growing list of incapabilities. I hope I didn't say John was hot out loud. Speaking of whom, made sure to brush my arm walking back to his table.

Anyway, I explain to the table my dorkiness of how I got my ultra sexy green bruise on my forehead. They seemed to find it funny. I did, however, leave out what the nightmare was about. God, Janice.

After breakfast, we are all held back for a bit and are given a speech by inspirational James. He's lovely and well, inspirational. He's a 50 year old instructor here and is kind of like the uncle who will tell you he will always be there for you. Needless to say, Inspirational James gave an inspirational speech about how throughout our lives, we are the only thing that is constant, we are the only thing in every memory of our lives. He said that we all, at some point or other, need to take responsibility for ourselves, and we, as hospice-livers who left home, have already taken that first, golden step. Some tears were shed. the applause was tremendous, and some even gave a standing ovation. Not me, but some. We got told our schedules based on this week's groups, and were then allowed to leaves and get changed for our first activity. I had canoeing.

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"Roh roh roh yer bewts, gentleh dewn the streeem. Merrileh, merrileh, merrileh, merrileh, LYFE IS BUT A ... sumfin or ovur. Aye dohn't evun noooo. Yeah, buddeh!!" A really bad Scottish accent says.

James can also be not-so-inspirational. At the moment, he's waiting for all of us to change into out wetsuits. I strip of my current clothes, banging my elbow on the toilet stall wall next to me. I pull on the already wet wetsuit, and fall onto the toilet seat trying to pull it on my legs, getting frustrated when it stuck to my skin. I let out an aggravated squeal. I manage to get up, sliding it onto my hips, the promptly fall on the floor slipping on the puddle of water. By the time I get back on my feet again, I'm slipping and sliding over the floor, trying desperately to get a grasp on the walls. Phew, I managed to stay up. Okay, let's do this. I think, we, being the royal 'we', of course, can, nay WILL, accomplish this very task of putting on a wetsuit. Oh yes, we shall. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of subconsciously using my hands whenever I speak, and talk as well. Sometimes it's fine, but dangnabbit (Hannah Montana woo) I got my bracelet stuck on the arm of the wetsuit. I pull and pull, until my arm is free, but the charm bracelet broke! 

"Fuck!" I exclaim, trying to grab all the charms that have spilled all over the floor. Someone bangs on the door frantically,

"Girl, are you okay?!"

"No! I am absolutely NOT okay right now." Tears sting my eyes, threatening to fall.

"Open up, let me in!"

"No, you can't come in!" Oh my god, where's the heart charm? No, I can't lose it, I can't have!!

"Please, just open up!"

"Mandy, leave me alone-"

"Let. Me. In. Girl, you have to let me in or I'm breaking in. I'm serious, right n-"

"I SAID LEAVE ME ALONE, MANDY!"

There was a bit of shuffling on the other side of the door, but finally, there was silence. I was the only one left to get changed. I slide down the wall, still half-changed, and sob, clutching the fallen charms. A dolphin, the Eiffel tower, and a silver tear drop were amongst the 12 charms. There were 13 - the golden heart is missing. I... I lost it. I lost the heart. Her heart. The one she gave me. I hold them in both my hands, and close to my chest. I cry and cry, leaving aside the thoughts of the group wondering where I am, and focus solely on what I have done. I broke the charm bracelet. I lost the heart. My chest hurts, but I can't stop. My tears just keep on flowing, dampening my cheeks, a few slipping into my mouth so I can taste their saltiness. I scream, I don't care if anyone hears. My lungs burn. I look up, hearing clunking, and see Mandy awkwardly trying get over the wall between our stalls.

"Oh, sweetie... come here." Her soft voice gets through to me. I stop crying, and shiver.

She manages to get down from the wall, and sits next to me, putting her arm around me. She guides me up, "Come on, I know you wanna show everyone you're tough. We should go before they get really worried, and next thing you know we have twenty people in this stall." She chuckles, trying to make me laugh.

I sigh, putting my head against her shoulder, "Thank you. Erm.. do you have a tissue?" I ask, my voice hoarse.

She gets up carefully and grabs some tissue from the tissue roll. I rise carefully, trying to avoid spilling the charms again.

"Here." Mandy starts to hand me the tissue, but sees my hands are full. "No, wait, hold on. I got something for that." She opens the door and slips out, I poke my head out and watch her open her backpack and pull out a small red bag. She empties it into one of the pockets in her bag, only a ring falls out.

"Open your hands." She says, but I am reluctant to do so. She grabs my wrist with a weak grip, and looks me in the eyes, her hazel ones meeting my dark brown ones. "You can trust me. Come on, open 'em."

Ever so carefully, I open my hands as she opens the bag, and pour the charms in, each of the glistening and catching the light. Once I'm done, she pulls the string, and tightens the bag at the top. She starts to hand me the bag, but I pull her into my arms, leaving her arm trapped between us. 

I breathe in shakily, "Thank you. Thank you so much."

She releases me first, and takes in how I look. The wetsuit's still around my waist, and I'm in my bra, the only thing covering my chest.

"I think you should get dressed, chica."

I laugh weakly at that, putting away the small, red bag, looking around one more time for the heart. I pull on the wetsuit, and she zips me up. We put on our shoes, and I, quickly tying my shoelaces, look at my reflection in the mirror. I splash some cold water on my face, and the tear  tracks wash away, the only visible indication that I had been crying was my puffy, red eyes. I grab a tissue, and dry my face, catching sight of Mandy waiting at the door. We walk out together, laughing at something she said. 

At the lake, I see everyone has got the boats out, and they're all set up, ready to go. There were some questions, why were we so late, what was that scream, blah, blah, blah, but Mandy and I ignored There's eight canoes for us, with 2 instructors in one boat, and fourteen boys and girls in the group, we're all in pairs. I ask Mandy if she wanted to be with me, and luckily she said yes. We put on our helmets and life-jackets, and help push the first pair's canoe into the water. After the other, I don't know, students I guess, were all in the water, Mandy and I got in the canoe, with her in front and me behind. We set sail, as Inspirational James, our instructor for this week, called it. After a tutorial from James and Brian on how to steer to the left, right, go forwards, go backwards, and what to do if a boat, or your boat, tips over, we all follow them into the bigger, wider area of the lake. 

Mandy and I are frantically yelling at each other "Steer forward", "Steer on the right", "No, wait, we're going the wrong way NO!", but we're having too much fun, laughing the whole time. 

"A'ight, gather round, young 'uns!" Brian's terrible fake Scottish accent calls us. Oh, it was Brian singing... 

"You think he would know 'Row you boat', I mean, he's been alive for like, a hundred years." Someone says, getting a few chuckles from the group, including Brian.

"I'm only 42!" Brian says defensively, "Alright, alright, settle down. I see you all seem to be getting the hang of this. So, why don't we just mix it up a bit? Just a little bit? Unless, you don't like challenges... in which case, I guess, *sigh*, we could continue like this, if you want-" Brian gets cut off...

"We can handle it, Brian! I mean, if you can do it in your age, we can do it much better, obviously." John says, grinning widely. Oh that smile...

"Well then, if that's the case... I want everyone to swap places in their canoes, whoever's in the front will go to the back and vice versa. BUT, I want you to do it in the water, not on or next to the sides, try to tip up." Brian challenges us.

Some people are saying "Of course, that's easy", "Pftt, I thought you meant a real challenge, Brian?", and are heading toward the middle of the lake, away from the sides. But me, I'm still looking at John, dammit those cheekbones. He turns to look at his partner behind him, but we lock eyes instead. I can feel the blood rushing to my cheeks, and see him smile sweetly at me, rather than smirk as usual. I hear Mandy say something, but I missed it.

"Sorry, what did you say, Mands?" I ask, using my nickname for her as an attempt to calm her down if she shouts at me for being distant.

"Urghh. If you stopped staring at that fit guy, oh wait, you were looking at John! Oh my god, I knew it! I knew it! I told you, didn't I?" Mandy gushes. Before I have a chance to say anything, she continues, "Anyway, I said, we should go nearer the middle away from the sides and trees."

"Okay, yeah, whatever, let's go."

We paddled towards the lake, passing John's canoe, and I swear, he reached out so his hand could touch mine. 

"Okay," I say shakily, "Let's do this."

"Are you afraid?"

"Pfft... of course not..." I tell Mandy, she turns round to look at me sceptically, one eyebrow raised. "Okay okay, maybe a little."

"A little. Dude, you look freaked out." She sees the words don't help me in any way, and so says "Let's just... do this quickly. I'm here, don't worry."

She gets up, putting her paddle in front of her. I rise too, but put my paddle behind me.

"Mandy..." I say shakily.

"Shhh, concentrate and we can do this well." She tries to reassure me, well at least she tried.

We carefully step toward each other, going very slow, I look around, seeing some pairs just sitting down, but no one seems to have tipped the boat. Luckily, some pairs are still moving around, so at least, not everyone is staring at us. I look back at Mandy, who's trying to get past me carefully, but it doesn't go as planned. The canoe starts to shake softly, but it's enough to get me scared. I move quickly past her, causing the canoe to shake more violently, threatening to plunge us into the murky waters below. I see Mandy fall out to the left, as I am plunged it to water to the right. 

The boat tipped. The boat tipped. But I didn't move quickly enough as the canoe lands on top of me, concealing me in darkness, but I can still breathe. Oh my fucking gosh, oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. I can feel paranoia attacking the adrenaline, I can't- I need to- I GOTTA GET OUT. Sensing no one has yet come near us, I take a deep breath and dive back underwater, I swim until I think I'm a good distance away from the canoe. I begin to rise, and submerge from the water, seeing canoes around the canoe Mandy and I were in. Wait.... Mandy. My eyes quickly glance over the canoes and their occupants, I breathe a sigh of relief when I see her sitting cross-legged in a canoe with some of her friends, laughing.

My muscles threaten to give up on me and I start to sink back down. I am again underwater, but I can't see, my eyes are closed. I open them for a second, giving in to my paranoia that someone is there and see eyes, bright eyes. Bright yet dull. No, it can't be. Bright but dead. One grey, one blue. Oh my god, it's her. She knows I lost the heart, her heart. I close my eyes again, and panic my limbs waving around frantically.

I resurface, and brush the hair from my eyes. I open them to see a hand reaching out for me. I grab it without hesitation, and they pull me up into their canoe. I lay on my back waiting to catch my breath, covering my eyes with my arm to block out the Sun.

"We got her! Will, row forward." I hear a voice- soothing, and gentle. I can feel the canoe moving again, and when I feel the missing warmth from the Sun, I pull back my arm, and sit up, wrapping my arms around my legs. But, the shaking of the canoe threatens to tip me over once again, so I sit cross-legged. I stare at the back of the person in front of me, the one at the front of the boat. 

"Aghhhh. Hold on!" He, well now I know he's a he, says. I'm guessing it's Will, the one mentioned earlier. Will is one of the guys who sits at John's table. I mean, pfft not that I notice. What, no, okay, yes, I noticed, obviously. As we come nearer to the still overturned canoe from earlier, I remember his warning but don't have the chance to do anything about it as we hit the canoe head on. I tip backwards, but remain in the boat (can you call a canoe a boat? hmm... I don't know). My back hits the floor, and my head hurts however, it was protected by my helmet. I grimace.

"Do you ever listen?" A masculine voice asks, I can hear him chuckle. "Honestly, erm... Charlie, let's call you, you gotta listen to warnings. You could get seriously hurt and-"

"Nope."

"Sorry, what?"

"I said nope."

"To what? That you don't listen?"

"No, I mean yes, I listen. But I said nope, as in my name's not Charlie."

"Dammit!" I hear his fake anger. "Well, you can hardly blame me for trying to guess."

"You're gonna have to give up then-"

"OR, I could get another guess-"

"What could you do that would allow me to give you another guess?"

"Hmm... I can think of something." He says a bit too flirtatiously. My eyes snap open, seeing a very attractive, familiar face hovering about mine. With piercing blue eyes.

"Hello there, dear-" He says.

"What the hell?! JOHN?" I was saved by that THING?!

He grins, and puts his face closer to mine. At first, I thought he was going for a kiss, but he moves his head and puts his mouth closer to my ear, whispering softly five words.

"That's not my real name." His breaths tickle my ear and make me shiver.

I look at his face when he comes back up for any signs to show he was lying. I mean, John trusts people, he did tell his real name... right? I stare in bewilderment at him, and get up turning my back to him, as he and Will row us all back to shore.

Once we're back on land, we get out of the canoe, and pull it completely out of the water. We had finished our one and a half hour activity, and pairs we're already starting to go change. But not before they saw two canoes bringing back an empty one, mine and Mandy's I presume. Speaking of... As the pull the canoes back to land, I search for Mandy.

"Mandy!" I exclaim happily and relieved that she seems fine.

"Oh my gosh! I can't believe we managed to overturn a boat!" Mandy laughs with me.

"Woo! High-five! I can cross that off my bucket list!" We high-five, and are quickly surrounded by the rest of our group, asking if we're alright, what happened etcetera. 

James and Brian get into the crowd to us, "Are you two alright?"

"That was awesome! We should dive back in!" Mandy says teasingly.

"Well," James starts off, "why not?"

So, that's the story of how we all ended up jumping into the lake off one of the walls about 2 metres higher than the lake itself. First, we jumped off alone, then we swam back. The second time, we all held hands, well, the group did, if the instructors did it too, it'd be weird and very awkward. Instead, James and Brian had gone back in the canoe to the middle of the lake, and took pictures of us holding hands and our jump in. Speaking of...

"IN 3!"

So excited! I look to see Mandy and Will next to me, holding my hands. The group insisted that Mandy and I would be in the middle.

"TWO!"

This is awesome.

"ONE!"

Let's do this.

"JUMP!"

We all jump up, a flash of the camera catching the shot, and land in the murky lake. We all submerge and laugh, and honestly, I felt so free and happy. We had a bit of a water fight, but had enough sense to get out. We had wasted an extra 10 minutes, and swam to the sides. After that, we put the canoes away onto the shelves connected to the back of the minibus, and strapped them down so that they wouldn't fall off on the journey back. I kissed my life-jacket and put it, and the helmet, back. If it wasn't for that life-jacket, I could've drowned. Then, the guys went to the men's toilets and the girls went to the women's. I peeled off the wetsuit and dried off as I saw my body had still managed to get wet even though I wore the wet suit. Getting dressed back into my clothes from before, a simple grey tracksuit and blue top, I still kept an eye out for the heart.

I got out of the stall with my backpack to see I was alone. I took advantage of this, and looked everywhere for the heart, my arms reaching out in some desperate attempt that it would latch on to my jacket. Giving up, I let out a sigh. I failed her. I walked out, looking back one last time, to my last connection with Janice.

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I'm sorry it took so long for me to update, and I'm sorry that the mystery of Janice hasn't been made clear yet, but I tried to give an extra long chapter to apologise. Remember, it's the little things that could come back to haunt you,

Oddball :!

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