Saving Coralie.

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  • Published: 1 Jan 2017
  • Updated: 1 Jan 2017
  • Status: Complete
Coralie and Erin are more like sisters and friends. They've been through everything together, the good the bad and the ugly. Which is why when Coralie kidnaps Erin and takes her to a secluded beach house, Erin gives her the benefit of the doubt. The girls find themselves in Pembrokeshire, the beautiful West coast of Wales, and the beautiful scenery is almost enough to make Erin forget that she's been kidnapped. Almost. She knows that Cor's acting weird and she thinks that she knows why, a memory that she's pushed to the back of her mind that keeps trying to force its way out. The one thing she does know for sure though is that Coralie needs saving. The trip turns out to be more tumultuous than either girl could ever have imagined. A story of love, friendship, grieving and unforgettable summers.


1. Chapter 1.

As far as I’m concerned, the first day of my life began on a hazy summer afternoon, sat in the passenger seat of a Citroen C2, inhaling a mist of cigarette smoke. This is probably due to the fact that I’m a writer and I sometimes have a flair for the dramatic, I accept that. Obviously it wasn’t the literal first day of my life, I’d spent eighteen years give or take a few months, wobbling through life. But when I look back and try to find the start of everything real, this is the point I always find myself looking back on. In retrospect, it’s when everything kicked off in my otherwise mundane world.
I was reflecting on this mundane existence as the swirling plumes of smoke invaded my senses and despite myself I choked on the harsh earthy smell. As much as I liked to pretend that I was as cool as hell and nothing could phase me, my idiotic lungs decided to give me up as a fraud. I waved my hands in front of my face to little avail before turning towards the open car window, letting the warm summer air wash over me, relieving my protesting lungs as I breathed it in.
“Don’t be such a baba Erin, you’re so dramatic,” Coralie sighed from the driver’s seat, “You know you’d have one from anyone other than me.” She flicked the stub that remained of her cigarette out of the window onto the rapidly moving road, which was racing past beneath the wheels of her car. That’s what you think, I thought smugly to myself, cigarettes disgust me so, ha!
“Well in all honesty I’d rather you just concentrated on the road for once,” I said out loud, in just pretentious a tone that I knew it would annoy her, “Plus, it would be way too ironic if I died today of all days, the start of my actual life.”
“Actual life,” Coralie snorted and pushed down harder on the accelerator, the car making a strained whining noise, which seemed to grate more on me than it did her, despite the fact that it was her gear box that was getting a beating because she was trying to wind me up.

The day was a warm and hazy one, just the sort of summer’s day I’d been craving since the beginning of the exam season, the sort of day that laid warm and inviting, brimming with possibilities.
There’d been many days like this one over the past few weeks that had risen to BBQs, beach walks and shopping trips. Our skin was softly sun kissed, our hair highlighted and our eyes seemed brighter somehow. The summer had been pleasant enough, but truthfully, my heart hadn’t been fully into anything. I’d spent most of my time with the slightest sense of anxiety hovering over me like a bad smell. It had been like my own personal mist, which clung to me like a second skin, whereas everywhere else was shiny and sunny and glorious. The thought of my impending A level results and consequential admittance into university had taken hold of my mind all summer, refusing to budge, stubbornly accompanying me every single day. Until today that was.

That morning I’d woken up, turned on my laptop and cried tears of happiness through barely open eyes, the message that confirmed my place to study creative writing at Cardiff university displayed rather radiantly on the screen.
I’d been buzzing all day, informing my family, my friends.
I’d kept my happy little buzz for a record breaking four hours until I happened to speak to Coralie. I’d not heard from her all morning and we’d arranged to meet at our high school at midday to pick up our official results. The atmosphere at the school had been electric, happy faces in the corridors, result sheets being thrust from hand to hand and congratulations all around. I’d revelled in the unanimous feeling of bittersweet endings and beginnings of new, exciting futures. The only thing that had spoilt it for me had been the mysterious absence of Coralie.
I’d gotten home from school and was welcomed back to a rare encounter with both of my parents. In the same room. They’d greeted me with teary eyes and hugs and what even seemed to be an agreeance on something for once. I found myself feeling proud that their pride for me had brought them together. But then I’d realised how messed up that was and went back to feeling proud of my results instead.
Once they were tired of being nice to me and to each other I’d slipped up to my room, flopped down onto my bed and found Coralie on my speed dial.

“Cor,” I’d breathed into the phone as soon as she picked up, my anticipation brimming over into my voice, making it shaky. We’d been discussing uni for months and had decided to apply to all the same ones, wanting to experience the newness of it, without the sadness of leaving each other behind. If my best friend had gotten into the same university as me, there was no doubt that this was going to be the best day of my life. So far anyway, the notion of moving away to university with Coralie, promising much bigger, better and exciting days.
“Oh hey RiRi,” she’d replied, her tone nonchalant, happy even. Naively I took it upon myself to take this as a good sign.
“You got in then?” I had chirped, thinking that if she could see the goofy smile on my face she probably would have called me a right loser.
There had been a pause and it sounded as if she was chewing, which was confirmed when she snapped her gum.
“Nah, looks like all that slacking off from revision really paid off,” she’d scoffed, the sound severe, a blow to my good mood.
“How’d my little nerd do? I’m guessing you got in?” There was nothing bitter in the way that she’d said it but still, I didn’t know how to reply without sounded boastful.
“Yeah I got in,” I had murmured, still certain that I sounded like I was bragging and hating myself for it.
“Ah, fab Ri, I’m so proud of you!” Coralie had squealed, sounding genuinely pleased for me and not the slightest bit phased, “fancy a celebratory lunch in town? Oooh, we should go to that cute little café that you like, the one with the vintage mismatched furniture and those big book shelves with free books. You know the one a few doors down from Costa Coffee? What’s it called again? The Cuckoo’s Nest, that’s the one. Shall we say half an hour?”
“Sure” I’d mumbled, my mind not completely in sync with my mouth, scrambling to find the right words to say to her.

I’d known that I had to say something, I couldn’t just leave it like she was obviously planning on doing. This was big. It wasn’t like the time she’d got a hideous tattoo on her lower back of a shooting star and I had pretended to love it and had said all the right things, as much as it had killed me to (it had truly been hideous). Or like the time when she’d been seeing two guys at once, rather treacherously choosing to do this with two guys who were fairly close friends, or even the time she’d driven the few streets from her house to mine after drinking almost four pints. I had gone along with her nonsense so many times in the past, even some dodgy, dodgy things, without saying anything, but this was different. This was life stuff, actual grown up stuff.
“Cor,” I’d started, my mind working overtime, which I knew would be no use to my slow moving mouth.
“Ok, I’ll pick you up in half an hour then, see you hun!”
Hanging up on me wasn’t a new habit for Coralie but this time it stung. I’d wanted to say something to make her feel better. I felt as if it was my duty to, because no one else would. What shook me most was that she didn’t seem in need of cheering up. Surely that wasn’t normal, it couldn’t be.

I had run my hands through my hair and let out the sigh that had been building in my chest throughout the phone call.
I had leant over the side of my bed to reach my bag and fished around inside it until I pulled out my results sheet. It was already slightly dog eared from the amount of times I’d folded and unfolded it, checking that what was written on it was truly real, that it wasn’t going to suddenly change. The letters A A B made my heart swell with pride every time I looked at them. I’d actually done it, my hard work had paid off and suddenly the sleepless nights, the tearful days and the three pounds of revision weight (that I’d fondly named my revision baby) all seemed worth it. But this time even the beautiful letters hadn’t been able to rescue my mood from where Cor had unwittingly thrust it.
                                                                        * * *

“I knew I was going to regret that second can of coke, I feel sickly. But I just hate the taste of diet, you know? It’s like regular coke’s ugly cousin. Like not even its sister because they don’t taste similar enough to be that closely related. It’s just so not good,” Coralie took a hand off the steering wheel and placed it on her flat stomach, groaning slightly, in my opinion, purely for dramatic effect. I turned away from the window, the cigarette episode forgotten momentarily and stared gormlessly at her. She’d been this way all through lunch, happy, talkative, babbling on about inane rubbish. I was the one who was often big on talking rubbish, I was a pro at sprouting any random shit that came into my head, often preferring to say something stupid than have a serious conversation. But that wasn’t Coralie’s style at all and I’d been generous, allowed her to go way too far into the realms of absolute crap, her latest musings about coke, sent me dangerously close to lamping her. Her relaxed attitude just wasn’t sitting well with me, making me feel slightly sickly as well. Surely having your plans for the future cut off so abruptly had to be even a little bit upsetting. I knew I would have been a blubbering, snotty mess if I hadn’t got in. Not only that, but our comprehensive plan to go to the same uni, live together, join societies together had been shattered. I mean yeah, out of the two of us I’d always been the most enthusiastic about the planning, but Cor had never said anything to make me think she wasn’t in to it.
This was the end of Coralie and Erin, the dynamic duo, the pair everyone at school, the kids, the parents and the teachers had viewed as two separate halves of the same entity. Suddenly a thought hit me.

“What about clearing Cor?”
“Huh?” She gave me a sideways glance, her dark eyebrows laced together, clearly still expecting a reply to her ridiculous statement about coke, unaware that my mind had been racing along by itself, “what are you on about?”
“Uni! You could still go through clearing, get in somewhere. I mean, we won’t be together but it’ll still be fun, we can visit each other and have skype calls-”
Coralie’s harsh laughter interrupted me.
“With the grades I got, I’m not getting in anywhere my dear, me and education are officially broken up.” As she said this she reached down and drew another cigarette from her packet with such ease that it was clear she’d done the same thing many times that day. Finally I gave in. I’d kept my mouth shut all the way through lunch, not strictly through choice but because once again my stupid brain had been too slow in handing over the word to my mouth. By the time I knew what I wanted to say she’d congratulated me and we’d moved on from the subject and I wanted it to come up organically. But no, I couldn’t keep quiet anymore.
“Aren’t you even a tiny bit concerned Cor? Even a little?”
Coralie took a drag of her cigarette, letting the smoke seep back out through her slightly parted lips.
“Nope. I’ve got my whole life in front of me, I’m not spending another day of it tied up in education, exams, revising, boring classes,” as she spoke she waved her cigarette around, sending ash tumbling into her lap, which she wiped away briskly, swerving all over the road.
“I want to experience life now. Real life.”
“I thought it’s what you wanted though, to get a degree, move away from home, the whole thing?”
Coralie tutted as if what I was saying was absolutely outrageous.
“That’s what you want. You and millions of other try-hards. Anyway, stop going on, it’s not as if I tried very hard anyway.”
She threw her half-finished fag out of the window and turned the radio up. I took this as a hint to shut up. Not that I knew what I wanted to say now anyway.

“Hey, wanna go to the beach tomorrow? Heard it’s supposed to be a scorcher and I need to even out this gross taffy tan,” Cor said after a few moments of slightly strained silence. She pulled down the waistband of her shorts to show me the line where recently tanned, golden skin, met clammy pale skin and laughed as if it was her biggest care in the world. I was tempted to say no just to bug her as much as her careless, ridiculous attitude was bugging me. But there was something unnatural about her excitement, about the smile on her face and it unsettled me.
“Sure, but it’ll have to be before three because my parents want to take me shopping for uni stuff.” Miraculously they’ve agreed to spend longer than a few minutes in each other’s company, I thought but didn’t add.
Without me noticing we had arrived at my house. Coralie parked the car and checked her reflection in the overhead mirror.
“Sure nerd. See you tomorrow.”

                                                                             * * *

When I got in I felt thoroughly exhausted. The array of emotions I’d felt that day suddenly catching up with me, sending my muscles into shut down and leaving me feeling groggy, slow and overwhelmed. I turned down invitations from both my mum and dad to be taken out to get dinner at my favourite restaurant Tony’s. Tony’s was a cute Italian bistro in town, that had ivy vines creeping around its little red front door, was always beautifully fragrant with herbs, melted cheese and pungent red wine, played soft Italian music and made the best carbonara ever to be consumed in this plane of existence. My reluctance to go anywhere was increased largely because they’d invited me separately, clearly without consulting each other. Obviously the good nature they’d displayed earlier had been an act for my sake, one that they couldn’t keep up any longer. I was absolutely dreading my shopping trip with them tomorrow.
Instead of celebrating I made my way upstairs on wobbly legs and ran myself a bath, making sure that I was fully submerged in the sweet-smelling bubbles.

Back in my room I lit a few scented candles and turned my music up so that it would drown out any spontaneous arguments that were likely to sprout up from down stairs.
I pulled back the baby pink satin covered duvet that I’d finally given in and allowed my mum to drape across my bed, but changed my mind just before I was about to crawl in. Instead I kneeled down, the hard wooden floor digging into my knees. I felt around under my bed and dug out a small, childishly decorated cardboard box, covered in amateur hearts drawn in purple felt pens and little multi-coloured stick people. I wasn’t just a horrendous artist, I’d just been a child when I’d made it. I’d been keeping precious items in this little cardboard box since I was tiny, needing a place to save things, detesting throwing out things that some people wouldn’t even think twice about. I sat back on my soft covers and lifted up the lid. Inside was a haven of forgotten treasures, mounds of yellowing paperwork, beautiful postcards from all over the globe, letters from forgotten pen pals. I ran my hand through the cherished memories, picking out an assortment of things. Empty perfume bottles that were too pretty to throw away, precious gem stones that I’d collected when I was little, that sparkled and gleamed as I examined them in the candlelight, pages upon pages of stories I’d attempted to write before haphazardly ripping them from notebooks. I read through a few of them, squirming at some of the more cringe worthy writing, tingling with a certain type of pride as I read stuff that I’d even forgotten I’d written, but was eloquent and thought provoking.

This stuff was hidden away so that it could be private, so that the transparent thoughts behind what I’d written would never be discovered or tainted by the opinion of anyone else. I’d never been very forthright with sharing my writing but I’d wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember, my first book narrated and illustrated by me and transcribed by my Nan at the age of four, a slightly nonsensical story about a cat and a slug. When I was little, I’d had frequent sleepovers with my Nan, back when my parents were still in love and had gone on fortnightly date nights. Me and Nan would eat toast and drink warm milk in the her glass panelled conservatory before bed, looking out at the stars, or the moon or the clouds or whatever could be seen in the nights sky. And Nan would tell me stories, telling me to give her two topics to create a tale from, normally receiving ridiculous suggestions like, ‘a bin and a frog’ or ‘a stick and a banana’, which would result in hours spent giggling. Then the next day, we’d wake up early and write down the stories, which we kept in a big scruffy leather-bound scrapbook, which was gloriously ragged and slapdash, but so earnest and heartfelt that I never saw it as anything but beautiful. As I’d grown I’d flicked through those timeworn pages again and again. I loved the sound of the pages turning, the pure rustling of the paper. As I’d gotten older I’d added my own, slightly mundane stories to it for my Nan to read, leaving it on her bedside table whenever there was a new addition and the next day we’d discuss the new story, laugh and sometimes cry, the stories connecting to real goings on in our lives.

She’d always loved my writing, my Nan, and had always made me promise I’d carry it on, do something worthwhile with it, on those lazy afternoons we spent reading my additions to our worn out book of stories. She’d taken that fat, worn book with her to the nursing home. She probably couldn’t remember who had written what was in there these days, let alone what the stories actually were about, but whenever we went to visit her she was always sat in a lone arm chair by the window, a tranquil smile on her face, the leather-bound scrapbook placed delicately on her lap. My dear little Nan hadn’t been the only person who’d turned me onto writing however, strangely enough Cor’s dad Mr Jenkins feeding my soul with the beauty and value of the written word. He’d been a somewhat successful author himself, publishing a number of fairly well selling books, a popular series of thrillers to begin with, then more ambiguous one off novels towards the end of his writing career.

As little girls Coralie and I had taken to hanging around her house more often than mine, it being bigger, with more little nooks and crannies to hide in or whisper or create little dens. And Mr Jenkins seemed to always be around. Probably because he wrote in his home study. But back then I didn’t even consider that, I just viewed Mr Jenkins as a permanent fixture of the big old house, a reliable face, a friendly voice asking whether we girls wanted a hot chocolate or a drive to the beach, whether we wanted him to pop a film on for us. But then later on, as my interest in writing grew, my interest in Mr Jenkins grew. I’d watch him writing sometimes, when I was supposed to be seeking during hide and seek or when Cor had to finish up a few chores before she could play with me. I’d watch the way he hunched over his desk, scribbling furiously away into one of his many fabric-bound notebooks, the concentration clear in the frown of his brow. He always knew I was there, watching silently, in a somewhat creepy way I now realised but I suppose I was just a little kid after all. And in the end he invited me into his study during these times and he would pass me extracts from his writing and send me to sit on a little beanbag he kept in the corner of the room to see if I could find any spelling mistakes, which I rarely could. As I got older I started to have proper conversations about writing with him, about his writing, about books we both liked, about stuff I’d written. It became a common occurrence whenever I was at Cor’s that Mr Jenkins and I would sit at the dining room table, hot drinks clutched in our hands. Anyone other than Coralie might get a bit fed up with their friend spending so much time talking to their parents but as far as Coralie was concerned Mr Jenkins had hung the moon, so she equally enjoyed the little conversations we had around her kitchen table. I’d often had doubts that I was a good enough writer and had said so to Mr Jenkins, who’d assured me that I was wrong.
“Your mind is constantly whirring away Erin, people can tell that you’re constantly lost in your thoughts just by looking at you. With a head so full of ideas and voices and notions, even if you couldn’t write for shit it would still make sense to at least get them down on a page.”

Once again my mind had decided to do its own thing, taking a detour on the way to its intended destination. I placed the pages of writing aside, trying once again to focus my mind and not to linger on thoughts of my dear, sweet Nan or Mr Jenkins and to do what I’d set out to. I rummaged through the box again and finally found what I’d originally been looking for. It was a large pink envelope, filled with photographs, my favourites, which mum had let me take from her collection, upon the promise that I’d look after them. I took them out and started to flip through them. I could barely look at the ones of me, mum and dad. We all looked too happy, them too in love. I could hardly remember those days, my memories of them hazy and sort of fuzzy around the edges. It felt as though my childhood was a fairy tale, something I’d made up in my head. There were other photos, me with people I could no longer recognise, others with people I hadn’t seen for years, some with people I’d rather forget.

I finally got to the photos I wanted to see, the ones of me and Coralie. We’d been friends for so long that it was hard to remember a time that we hadn’t been. The photos showed two girls with dirty blonde ringlets, blue green eyes and massive smiles. We’d looked so similar when we were younger that at one point I think we managed to convince everyone else and maybe even ourselves for some time, that we were sisters. For me especially, she was the sibling I’d always wanted, had begged for even, but that had never arrived. At the time I’d thought that my parents had done it to spite me. Now I knew their inability to give me a brother or sister had been as big a topic of contention for my parents as it had been for me. Cor had burst into my life in an explosion of colour and noise, one quite September afternoon. It had been my first day back at school after the summer, year two, last year of infant school, almost in the big leagues. Coralie had been led into the classroom by the head teacher. I’d watched the new girl with the blonde plaits and as young as I’d been, something had drawn me to her. Unlike the other new children who were periodically led into the room by the head-teacher, who dragged their feet and looked shy and apologetic as they were introduced to everyone, Coralie skipped into the classroom, a grin already plastered on her face that merely grew as Mrs Penny told the class that Coralie Jenkins had just moved to Wales all the way from London, England. I suppose that it was pure, yet serendipitous chance that led Mrs Penny to sit Cor next to me and ask me to look after her for the rest of the day. Little had I known that ‘one day’ would turn into the rest of my life.

And so Coralie and I had become inseparable from a young age. Coralie’s mum, a high flying, work crazed lawyer had been more than happy to leave Cor with my parents or force us both on her husband, Cor sometimes refusing to be without me, every day including weekends, our childhoods becoming an intertwined stretch of fun and laughter, hurt and tears, ups and downs. I flicked through a few more photos. The two of us, cuddled up on my bed together, a book between us, hot chocolates clutched in our little hands, us on a sandy beach, splashing around in the tide, our identical hairstyles making one barely distinguishable from the other.

It was easy enough to tell us apart these days of course, our only remaining similar feature being our blue-green eyes, although hers were large and almond shaped, mine more catlike. Or at least that’s how she would describe them whenever I’d complain about having virtually non-existent eyes. The rest of our similarities had faded away, my golden hair darkening to such a deep brown colour that no one would ever guess that I used to be blonde. In all honesty I loved my hair colour, feeling as though it was my best feature, therefore feeling the need to leave it long and natural, despite my mum constantly reminding me that a pixie cut would suit my dainty elfin features. I couldn’t part with it and nothing and no one could make me. Cor’s hair on the other hand had gotten slightly lighter as she aged, naturally she claimed and I went along with her pretending not to see the bottles of hair lightener that she left in the shower. She’d recently cut it into a choppy shoulder length style that emphasised her large almond eyes and full oxbow lips, giving her an angelic air that couldn’t be further from the truth, this becoming apparent whenever she stuck a cigarette between those ridiculously full lips of hers. We weren’t so similar at all these days when I really thought about it. Which I tried not to do on a regular basis. But we’d grown up together, she was my family and I knew her and her strange ways inside out. Which was why I was so worried about her, a worry that was starting to consume me. There was something so artificial and forced about how she was acting. And you could never be too careful when it came to Cor, there were too many reasons not to take anything she said lightly. She wasn’t taking this seriously at all and I couldn’t help but feel as though she was throwing her future away, for no good reason. She’d never been someone completely devoted to her education but she normally tried and did decently. I had a lingering fear that she was doing all this as some sort of messed up rebellion directed at her M.I.A mother, who’s working days had recently got longer and longer, her working week extending to the weekend. In fact I doubted that her mother would even know that she’d applied to universities, let alone know that she’d been rejected from them all. Or maybe on the other hand, I sort of hoped that a dig at her mother was all that was going on, in the place of something more sinister. Because going on past experiences it really could be something worse. But then surely she would have said something to me. Because Coralie was many things but quiet and retiring with her ideas and opinions wasn’t one of them.

In contrast I was the type of person who kept everything to myself. I let my problems pile up in my own mind, like little boxes stacked neatly on top of each other, filed away and dealt with when and only if they needed to be. If they could be ignored then they were shoved right towards the back and stayed there, gathering dust. Sometimes the boxes spilled over, spewing out their contents, making my head a jumble of thoughts and worries. Those were my bad days though, when everything got on top of me and after a few hours of total meltdown, I normally managed to get them back under control, safely tucked away again. This was probably unhealthy yeah, but the idea of trying to explain to anyone else what was going on in my mind was exhausting to me. Coralie never seemed to have that problem though. All our lives, Coralie’s problems had been there, piled up in my brain along with my own. I got burdened with everything from the fact that her hair wasn’t growing fast enough to the fact that she had a suspicious looking mole on her bum.

In fact, the past few weeks had been a form of living hell for me in some ways. Coralie had finished with her on again off again boyfriend Jonny, a charismatic older guy who worked as a mechanic in town, who’d been a year above us in school and I had heard all about it. If I was her I wouldn’t have been all that cut up about it. I mean he was good looking yes, was somewhat funny and when they were together he treated her well. But when they were apart he ignored her, would sometimes go weeks without talking to her, and would be seen by multiple friends flirting with anyone with a pair of tits. And then he’d finally make an effort to see her and something about his charm, his infectious smile meant that she welcomed him back with open arms. If I was her I wouldn’t have put up with it for even half as long as she did, but that was me, not as easily swayed by a pretty smile and gentle whispers of promises, surely to be broken. What had been the actual kick in the teeth to her though had been that he’d finished with her, telling her he was bored. She’d been cut up, angry, distraught and at times relieved to be shot of him and I’d heard every detail of every thought that went through her head, often joining in with the anger, sharing a bottle of vodka to soften her sadness. All the past week we’d been on Coralie’s break up roller-coaster and if anything I’d thought that today’s bad news would be another dip that we’d ride out together.


That’s why when she’s pulled up to my house with a grin on her face and a peculiar calmness surrounding her, my heart had sunk into my stomach and stayed there for the rest of the day. Something just wasn’t right, something had me on edge, the feeling following me into my sleep that night, my dreams consisting of flashing images of Coralie’s face, crying, laughing, Jonny’s charming smile, transforming into a snarl. My parents holding hands but struggling to get apart. My results sheet, floating face down in the vast ocean, me and Cor as kids, splashing in the water, trying to reach it but getting in too deep, our heads disappearing beneath the crashing waves.
I woke up gasping for air and sat up in bed, a cold sweat covering my body. I turned on the lamp placed on my bedside table and took in my surroundings. The smooth cream walls, the soft violet rug on the floor, my beloved window seat, where a vanilla scented candle was still flickering away. I got out of bed and blew it out, drawing the curtains. I crawled back into bed, my head still heavy with sleep and was about to throw myself back down into the silky sheets when I noticed the photo I had been looking at when I must have fallen asleep, strewed upon a pale blue decorative pillow, one of the many piled up in one corner of my bed. It was me and Coralie when we were about ten, sitting on the wall outside my house, sharing earphones connected to a now ancient looking Walkman and laughing at something  one of us must have said , our heads thrown back, looking truly carefree and happy. I picked it up and placed it on my bedside table, propped against my jewellery box. I turned off the lamp, settled back into the cool sheets and stared at the outline of the photo in the darkness until I fell back asleep.

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