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Don't bother reading this. I'm only keeping it up so I can use the feedback... I'm writing a new competition entry instead.
Thank you to everyone who gave me CC - I needed every bit of it and I can't ask for better friends!

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1. Saved

Five small breaths saved me from drowning. That, and the hand that pulled me out of the turbulence. My lungs were consumed with fire, my eyes were stinging from chemicals, my muscles were aching from fatigue. I opened my mouth to release a silent scream, my voice trapped in the bubbles that floated to the surface whilst I sank.

How had I gotten here? I recalled Sofia and I arguing whilst one of her hanger-ons filming the full thing, no doubt so my humiliation could be uploaded to YouTube. I'd pushed her away from me... and she'd retaliated. Her eyes had widened as I'd fallen back, tripping over a bucket. She'd regretted it, and so had I, but it was too late.

This was how I was going to die. I wasn't going to go out with a bang, fighting to my death like I'd imagined. I was just going to stop breathing.

Water thrust into me from the right, forcing me sideways, and a hand reached out for mine. This could be a by-product of my delirious state, but even so, I reached out. My eyes shut as I ascended.

Cold relief pressed into me once my saviour had pushed me onto the wooden boards. I could feel the compressions to my chest, could feel the water within me warring to be let out. The black spots that had hindered my vision were clearing to reveal an expanse of blue sky.

"Come on, Carie. Breathe."

I already knew that lilting voice had to belong to my saviour. Salty water filled my mouth, and she tilted my head to the side so it could dribble down my chin.

"You okay?"

It seemed apt that I opened my eyes to a life-sized Barbie doll. Flowing blonde hair cascaded over her bare shoulders and two dewy sapphires surveyed me with concern. I'd never had a habit of associating pretty faces with kindness, so in spite of my groaning body, I smashed back into the side of the boat in an effort to further myself from her.

"I'm better than I would've been still in the sea," I replied, but it ended in a gurgling cough. My throat was constricted: it felt like I was swallowing the gravel that covered the seabed when I spoke.

"I'm sorry Sofia pushed you. She isn't a strong swimmer, otherwise I know she would've helped."

Sophia. I let my gaze roam across the boat, but my nemesis had disappeared like the pressure on my chest had.

"Don't apologise. She doesn't deserve it." The acrid taste of blood still permeated my mouth from the punch, a reminder of why she couldn't be forgiven. Granted, I had called her a drag act, but that hadn't called for violence.

"I have to apologise for her. She's my sister." It was almost apologetic the way she said it - this Barbie. I should have seen the similarities between them, namely the perfect everything, but since Sophia tended to plaster herself in more makeup than the drag acts she was imitating, it had concealed the fact that they were (in all but one sense of the word) doppelgängers.

"She's Satan's spawn. And I am indebted to you for saving me, so I really hope that being related to her doesn't mean..."

"That I'm Satan's offspring too? I'd say I'm not, but it's up to you. I'm Ariannah, by the way. Pleasure to meet you."

Of course her name was Ariannah. She couldn't be called something normal like Anna; that was blasphemy to her looks.

"I'm Carie, but you already know that. Thanks for the knight in shining armour act back there." I did a vague gesture back at the tumultuous waves. Looking at the white horses crashing against the side of the boat, I knew that without her I would be fish food by now if I hadn't already been devoured. A shudder passed through me at the thought. "I may hate your sister and the feeling may be mutual, but that doesn't mean I can't be grateful. You didn't have to risk your own life to save mine."

"Yeah, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'd be an accomplice to murder if I'd left you." She giggled, and the high tinny sound was infectious. Ignoring my aching ribs, I chortled too.

I cleared my throat - which felt like gargling stones - trying again. "I was stupid to come here in the first place. That's naïveté at best: coming to a private yacht party when I was invited by someone I know hates my guts. I should've run a mile when I didn't see anyone onboard apart from Sophia and her two uglier musketeers."

"True. That was pretty stupid," Ariannah agreed. "But you met me so I guess it was worth it."

"Careful, that almost sounds conceited!"

"Oh, my! I would just hate to be accused of being pompous!" She sobered up after a while, chugging down water as though she hadn't inhaled enough when she'd dived in. "Truth be told, this was supposed to be my birthday party. I let Sofia take out the yacht because she was adamant she needed it."

"Happy birthday." I shrugged, lackadaisical.

"I'm having a small get-together later on to rid myself of these awful memories. You want to come?" She had gone from pretending to be the charming southern belle to the shy new schoolgirl.

I shrugged again, but this time the enthusiasm was apparent no matter how I attempted to tone it down.

I took five small breaths. This time, it was easier to nod and say the answer I'd been desperate to give. "That'd be cool."

We both knew that translated to, 'I'd love to.'

XxX

In the birthday parties that came after that, we never once had the venue on anything other than concrete land. And whenever I was again silenced by uncontrollable waves, she saved me. We both saved each other.

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