Saving Coralie.

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  • Published: 1 Jan 2017
  • Updated: 1 Jan 2017
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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.

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10. Chapter 10.

The next day arrived in a warm sunny blaze, another glorious day beckoning to us. That morning I’d woken up and like the previous few mornings I’d taken a second to breathe out of all my pent up anxiety in one huge yoga fire breathe. I was trying to leave it all behind in the little bathroom where I stood, barefooted against the cold tile floor, watching myself in the mirror that was perched above the sink. I knew that my moods were sometimes grim if I had too much bunged up in my head and I’d decided that I needed to be sunshine and light whenever I was around Cor. She’d seemed fine the day before sure, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I was taking this mission I’d put myself on as seriously as I took anything important to me.

“I can’t remember the last time we had a summer like this,” Cor exhaled, fanning herself with a handful of promotional brochures we’d found tucked into a drawer of the coffee table. She swooped her hair up and tied it into a little top knot. I was about to put my foot straight into my mouth by announcing that I remembered exactly when we’d had a summer like this but realised myself just in time and managed not to describe the worst summer of our lives. Instead I bit down on my lip, twisting my own hair up, trying to ease the sweltering heat, letting the cool conditioned air get to my sticky neck.
“Global warming,” Sim shrugged.
“You always say something so helpful. And now you’ve ruined my mood. You always ruin everything,” Cor half laughed, reaching her leg across the sofa she was sprawled on to nudge him with her foot.
“I’m not ruining anything. You on the other hand,” as he spoke he batted Cor’s foot away and nodded towards the large white fan that was spinning rapidly above us.
“What? Iddy said I could put it on didn’t he? You’d be complaining if I was all gross and sweaty wouldn’t you?” Sim paused for a moment, pretending to think before shrugging, a smirk on his face.
Cor made a face, starting up again with her brochures.

“Come on guys let’s go out now, I can’t stand sitting here when it’s so nice outside,” I whined, looking over to where Seb and Iddy were laying casually on the floor. They were gazing zombie-like at Iddy’s huge flat screened TV, rapidly punching away at Xbox controllers and slaughtering zombies that, quite frankly looked more alive than the two of them, even whilst dragging themselves across the screen.
“Yeah come on guys, you’re being bores, you can play that game any day,” Cor joined in, sitting up from her dramatic sprawled position.
“Yeah and how often do you get to spend some quality time with the girls? And Sim.” I added as an afterthought.
“I’m bored of spending quality time with you lot,” Seb said without tearing his eyes away from the screen, his hands still clicking away.
“Well I’m bored of looking at you two lazy dicks thrown all over the floor-” before I’d even finished speaking I watched as Seb paused the game, leapt up from his collapsed position and threw himself towards me, using his weight to throw me backwards onto the sofa, simultaneously catching me so that I wouldn’t hurt myself.
“Lazy am I?” he grinned as I caught my breath through an eruption of laughter.
“I’m done anyway,” Iddy stood up slightly more gracefully than Seb had, tossing the handset onto the beanbag he’d been slumped on.
“Plus I’ve had enough of this constant moaning children, let’s take you out to play.”
     
                                                                                ***

“I’m so regretting calling you guys lazy now,” I groaned breathlessly, “I feel like this is some sort of revenge.”
After our constant badgering Seb and Iddy had had a conversation that had consisted of lots of looks and grunts and one word murmurs. To me it had looked like a load of bullshit acting but when I’d said as much they had vehemently claimed to know exactly what the other one had been saying. Then they’d hustled us into Seb’s car, the scene frighteningly reminiscent of my earlier kidnapping. They drove for over an hour, all the time refusing to tell us where we were going, despite our outrage that we had no food, that we might not be dressed properly. Seb just retaliated by telling us that if that was the case we shouldn’t have forced them out of the house and then he turned the music up any time Sim, Cor or I spoke, only turning it off once we’d pulled into a quiet, gravelly carpark.
Then the hike had begun. We’d walked along a small woodland path then up a set of stone steps that seemed to go on forever, my calves aching, droplets of warm sweat forming on my forehead. Then just as the steps came to a merciful end, we were met by a startlingly green expanse of grass, what seemed to be fields upon fields of jade set upon the pale blue background of the sky. It was marvellously beautiful but so very, very uphill.

“Well if you think this is revenge then never ask me or Iddy to settle a vendetta for you because we’d be shit at it.”
We were halfway up the grassy mountain and a fresh breeze had just greeted us, swirling the scents of pollen and warm earth across the surface of our flushed skin. I’d gotten so warm that even my loose cotton shirt had become too much and was now tied around my waist, my bikini top on show.
“What are you on about,” I laughed breathlessly as I stopped walking and almost instantly tipped sideway, my pathetically tired legs wobbling as I bumped into Seb. He laughed and caught me, draping his arm across my shoulders.
“It’s worth it when you get to the top, trust me.”
“It better be,” I replied warily, falling into his side slightly, “or you’re giving me a piggyback all the way home.”
“So do lazy people give piggybacks then?” Seb pretended to look quizzical.
“Give over,” I gave another tired laugh.

We settled into a steady pace, the unexpected breeze bringing me a new lease of life. I began to notice the dappling of daisies that speckled the hilltop and began collecting them, Seb and I plaiting a necklace out of them, like we’d spent hours doing when we’d been kids. Seb’s work was clumsy, his fingers no longer as little and nimble as they once had been. The thought gave me a stab of nostalgia, a yearning for the simple days we’d spent making flower crowns in my back garden, Seb making me pinky-promise that I wouldn’t ruin his reputation with tails of flowers and claimed that he was only doing it to make me happy, but I knew that he enjoyed it really. The sweet dewy smell of the pierced stalks took me back to a time when nothing really mattered. Cor, Iddy and Sim were walking up ahead slightly but after a while Sim noticed what we were doing and joined in, bounding around barefooted, bringing us delicate flowers at an impressive rate, our necklace transforming into more of a rope, that we let trail behind us. Cor and Iddy however were too absorbed in each other to even notice what we were doing. I paused every now and then to watch them. Despite being polar opposites, Iddy calm and down to earth, Cor highly strung and endearingly ostentatious, it was clear that they had time for no one else high up on that hilltop. They laughed and joked, Iddy pointing out wild flowers, birds and rabbits, Cor ruffling his hair, hanging on his arm to get up particularly steep parts of the hill, grinning as radiantly as the sun. It felt strangely intimate to watch despite being completely innocent, Cor seeming to bring out the passion in Iddy, Iddy Cor’s grounding factor.

I smiled to myself, gently plucking another daisy from the warm soil. We soon caught up with them, our daisy chain flying out behind us. Almost at the peak of the hill, the ocean began to appear from where the cliff side fell away, gentle and turquoise, the fresh air floating up from it, salty and refreshing. I caught sight of a cluster of forget-me-nots that were peeking down at me from the horizon of the hill, indigo and beautiful. I dropped my portion of the daisy chain and moved towards them, bending down and pinching the delicate stem of one, not wanting to disturb the rest. They were my favourite flowers, quiet and unimposing yet beautiful. I stood up with the tiny flower resting in my upturned palm, yet the view before me stole my gaze and I let the gentle breeze swoop down and take the purple flower, that danced gracefully into the sky. The breath-taking view in front of me was like nothing I’d ever seen before, like something from a fairy-tale. There were a few sandstone steps that dropped down to an enchanting little steel gate, entwined with roses and vines and a sea-sprayed stone archway that was embossed with evergreen ivy . All of this was set above another set of messy stone steps, which led down to the prettiest stretch of sand I’d ever seen. It looked velvety and golden and reminded me of specks of fairy-dust, curving into the vivid blue ocean. It was bordered by a forest of lush green trees that looked as though they’d been standing for thousands of years, their trunks weathered and brown. Their leaves were swaying along to the lullaby of the waves, the two sounds whispering together, angelic and mystifying.

“We’re terrible for bringing you here aren’t we,” Seb whispered against my neck as he caught up behind, sending a pleasant shiver down my spine.
“Barafundle Bay. One of Pembrokeshire’s many crown jewels,” Iddy said, placing his hands on his hips and stretching his back, “couldn’t ask for much better really could you?”
“Last one in the water gets the next round,” Sim bellowed breaking our awed silence.
We all scrambled down the rocky steps in a frenzy, sending dust and sand spraying into the stifling air in puffs of gold, our laughter reverberating around the high cliff walls. We splashed into the refreshingly cold water, almost in unison, our heavy limbs gliding through the water and splashing it upwards gleefully, the moment truly one of euphoria. I plunged my head under the water and fully emerged myself in the sensation of the sea.

Once we were suitably chilled to the bone, we went to lay our wet clothes out in the baking sun. Just as I allowed my aching body to flop down onto the mattress of silky sand beneath me, Seb and Iddy announced that they were going to explore the forest.
“There’s no way I’m moving from here for at least half an hour,” I said, without lifting my head up from where it had fallen on the soft curve of my arm, its position muffling my voice.
“You’re going to be constantly regretting when you called us lazy aren’t you?” Iddy prodded my back with his toe.
“Go away,” I replied without rolling over to face either of them, inhaling the scent of my skin, mingled with a tropical smelling sun cream.
“Just go,” Coralie settled beside me, “the beach is deserted anyway so me and Ri can just do some topless sunbathing or something.”
“Right that settles it, I am definitely staying with the girls,” Sim plonked himself on my other side, his permanent grin firmly in place, his voluptuous dark hair damp and pulled back with a red bandana.
“Me and my girls will be fine without you two I’m sure,” he said, simultaneously stretching and mirroring the position that Cor and I were both in, led on our stomachs.
“Fine,” Seb rolled his eyes, “But no toplessness. Especially you Sim.”

We lay there for a while, watching Seb and Iddy disappear into the thick growth of the trees, chatting idly and listening to the waves but I soon started to feel lightheaded and restless. I heaved my tender body to its feet, brushing off grains of sand and stretching.
“Guys I’m getting drowsy, let’s go do something,” I gestured around the deserted beach. Without the interruptions and distractions that accompany people, there truly was something mystical about the beach and the ocean. It felt like we were in a little pocket of another world, separate, untouched and peaceful. Sim disturbed my profound musing by springing to his feet and in typical Sim style announcing that since it didn’t look like he was going to be seeing boobs any time soon, that we should go swimming again.
“Or we could go and see those rock pools,” he finished, bounding away before we could answer, somehow managing to shatter the image I’d had seconds before. He whooped loudly as he plunged into the sea, leaving Cor and I to trail after him, amused and perplexed. In a corner of the beach shaded by the towering cliffs we caught up with him. He was crouched low over a cluster of rock pools that were colourful and brimming with life.

“Aw sweet check these out girls,” he waved us over to where he was perched precariously above the glinting water, his bare feet clutching to the rough muscle covered rocks making me cringe inwardly. He pointed out a school of little silver fish that looked like a group of arrowheads darting to and fro, some tiny transparent shrimp, a few little crabs and he even knew the correct Latin names of at least five of the silky anemones. We followed his lead, balancing along the narrow rims of the pools, dipping in a foot now and then, watching the sparkling clouds of fish explode away from the offending article.
“Aw no, look at this poor guy,” Sim murmured as we crowded around one of the bigger pools that was dark and deep. Upon the rock ledge laid a delicate yellow starfish, that was speckled with red and orange.
“They’re called common starfish,” Sim said as he gently prised it from the rock, “but that’s such a stupid name, they’re beautiful. They deserve a much better title than common.” As he spoke he lowered it into one of the more shallow pools, where we watched as it floated gently onto the bed of pebbles and settled.
“Much better,” Sim grinned. I watched him as he watched the starfish and felt like I was seeing a completely different Sim to the guy who’d been all hyped up over boobs just a little while ago. Even though I hadn’t known him very long it was clear that this was one of the rare times Sim had decided to show his sweet and caring side, enthusiastic about everything that he was showing us. His expression was unreadable as he ran his hand through the water and waved at the little creature. I’d been judging this book by its cover since the second I’d met him and this felt like the first peek into the actual pages.

“I’m impressed Sim,” I said as he straightened back up, “you know loads about this stuff. You seem like you really care about it too,” I said, instantly feeling guilty about how pedantic I sounded.
“Yeah I never thought I’d witness you caring about anything that didn’t have a pair that you could ogle,” Cor joined in.
Sim laughed but it wasn’t his usual belly laugh, the sound soft and slightly sad.
“Well I grew up near a beach,” he sat down onto the sharp rocks without even flinching, the same not said for me as I watched him do it.
“And whenever I was sad or angry about anything, I’d go out to the rock pools and just watch their peaceful business and it would calm me down. And I guess it’s a little weird but these days whenever I feel down, which seems to be quite often recently, I read about marine life, it helps me escape reality, you know? I just admire it, a whole world that lives under water. I mean,” he laughed softly, almost embarrassedly “that’s just why I know so much about it.”
Realising the depth of the topic we’d accidently stumbled upon, I sucked it up and gently lowered myself into a painful seat next to him, our legs dangling into the deep pool in front of us.

“But Seb, you’re one of the happiest, alive people I know, I mean, meeting you has genuinely made me want to find more reasons to be as happy as you always are. How can you say you’re always down?”
“That’s a gem of a thing to say Ri,” Sim grinned down at me, “and I am happy, really happy, I love every day that I’m alive. But stuff just gets to me sometimes. As stupid as this sounds, lots of people have left me, especially when I was a kid, so since then I’ve tried my hardest to  I try not to dwell on any one issue or person for too long, but recently it doesn’t seem to work. So I read a book instead.”
He paused, the smile on his face bashful rather than sad now, “I’ve been meaning to say sorry to you by the way girls. About what I said in the pub yesterday.”
“Don’t be stupid,” I giggled nervously.
“No, it was stupid. Disrespectful really. I don’t really think of girls in that way. Truthfully I’m just always worried that I’ll end up caring too much. More than them. Like I did with other people. So I just cut my loses early, you get me?”
“That’s ridiculous,” Cor hovered above us, obviously reluctant to sit down, “you’re impossible not to care about. You’re like a friendly, slightly badly behaved puppy.”
Sim properly laughed at that.
“You girls are proper safe you know that? Nah I know, but that’s the reason I pretend not to care about stuff, you know like failing out of uni for one. Because it’s the coward’s way out. Actually admitting that you care is like 1000 times harder.”
I nodded, swaying my legs back and forth, sending gentle ripples across the clear water, enjoying the feeling of symbiosis, of completely understanding what somebody else was saying, the relief of knowing that you’re not the only one thinking the same way. After a moment Sim sighed before saying, “which is why you girls are sworn to secrecy ok? No one can know that I’m anything more than a piece of eye-candy. This whole thing could destroy my reputation,” he winked at me and I rolled my eyes laughing, half relieved, half saddened to greet the Sim I knew and loved back to reality.
“Well does that mean that we can get up now then? My bum is absolutely numb, I don’t think I’ve ever sat in a more uncomfortable place.”
Sim smiled his trademark smile and yanked me to my feet.
“See that’s why I didn’t sit down, you have rock imprints all over your arse,” Cor said, a half-disgusted expression on her face.
“Well easily solved, stop looking at my bum,” I suggested, nudging her just enough that she stumbled without causing a horrific rock poling accident.
“You can’t make me,” she nudged back.
“Or me in that case,” Sim announced, as perky as ever.
“Well at the end of the day I can’t stop you. I don’t blame you either,” I said, trying and failing to keep a straight face.

The three of us meandered back to our things and were playing Would You Rather? led spread eagled in the sun when Seb and Iddy got back.
“Would you rather die by shark attack or an electric eel attack?”
“Would you rather never have to pay for anything you need ever again or never have to pay for anything you want ever again?”
“Marry a boring white guy or a caramel Adonis?” Sim had enquired at one point, resulting in a chorus of groans from me and Cor.
“The boring white boys are back,” Cor said, standing and stretching as Iddy and Seb emerged from the canopy of leaves. It was getting late and we’d all agreed to ambush Seb into buying us a burger on the way back, under the pretence that he’d been the last to get to the sea earlier on (when in reality we’d all agreed that it had probably been me).
“Ok, one more question for you then Cor, just quickly,” Sim was lying on his side, his head propped up with one hand.
“Shoot,” Cor said, pulling her loose pink dress on over her bikini.
“Would you rather date Iddy or just skip straight to having his children?”
I laughed loudly as Cor’s head emerged through the collar of her dress, flushed and red.
“Shut up you pricks,” she hissed, shaking her hair free of its bun and quickly running her hands through it, fluffing it up.
“Don’t know how much longer you think you can deny it,” Sim prodded, Cor shouting, “Hey guys,” waving Iddy and Seb over at the same time, trying her best to drown out our sniggers.

“Hello beautiful,” Seb reached us, “hey Cor, hey Erin.”
“Ha ha,” I stood up, “Little do you know I’ve stolen Sim off you since you’ve been gone. It wasn’t hard, he was very easily persuaded.”
“It’s true, I was bored,” Sim shrugged and patted Seb on the shoulder.
Seb grinned and grabbed me around the middle as I tried to wrestle my top back over my head.
“Well at least I got rid of all my extra baggage in one go, can have a fresh start now. Also do you know you have tiny red marks all over your arse yeah?” What have you guys been doing?”
“Wouldn’t you love to know,” Cor swung her tiny floral backpack over her shoulder, “besides, it might wipe the smile off your face when you realise that we’re about to bombard you into buying us a McDonalds.”
“You’re what?” Seb shouted after us as Sim, Cor and I rushed towards the steps leading back up the steep cliff-side.

The journey back down the hill was a much easier one, the evening breeze drying our still slightly damp hair and clothes. My mind was partly on the food I was about to devour, partly on Sim, who was bounding along happily. As I watched him I realised that despite everything he really wasn’t faking the happiness. I’d seen faked happiness before and that wasn’t the smile on Sim’s face. It was as clear as day that he really was just enjoying being up on that field top, the wind blowing through his thick curly hair, his bare feet pounding across the scratchy grass. But in a strange way it was comforting to know that under his confident, cocky demeanour he possessed a soft, vulnerable underbelly, just like everyone else. And it struck me that I too was happy just being there, swaying slightly on Seb’s shoulders, the piggyback still received, even despite the lost bet.

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