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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11. Chapter 11.

My yoga fire breaths the next morning turned out to be less relaxing than they had been before. I stood in the sitting room facing the window, watching the turquoise ocean, a mug of coffee in my hands, one of Seb’s t-shirts falling down to my knees. I couldn’t have found myself in a more pleasant situation but I felt pent up, jumpy. I tried to concentrate on my breath like I had the past few mornings, taking a deep breath into my chest, letting it seep into my lungs, slowly letting it out. But it wasn’t helping me relax. My nails were tapping anxiously onto the china mug and I was curling and uncurling my bare toes against the cold wooden floor. I sipped my coffee and fiddled with the bottom of the t-shirt, yanking it down roughly before glancing once again at my phone that laid abandoned on a coffee table. 

It had been turned off for three days now. It was an all-time record for me and surprisingly I wasn’t missing it. It felt nice to be cut off from social media for a little while, not being forced into knowing what a great night the girls from school had had the night before, or stumbling onto a petty argument between two people with appalling grammar, that somehow ended up involving their uncle and their cousin’s friend, reading through it all and then feeling ashamed about wasting my time by doing such a thing afterwards. I was in no way missing any of that, I was just beginning to realise the amount of shit that I was going to be in with my parents when I eventually turned it back on, the amount of angry, confused texts that were going to flood in, reminding me that I had deadlines, obligations, that this was not the time to go AWOL. It would probably send my two year old phone into meltdown, not used to so much attention. In a way I was gambling with my future, I knew that and as much as I was trying to forget it I couldn’t, even if the future didn’t seem to be as solid and concrete as I’d always thought it was.

I sipped and sipped my coffee despite the hot liquid that I’d laced with three sugars, a bad habit I’d been nursing since I was sixteen, scolding my tongue. Scenarios were flashing through my mind, the same ones I’d been seeing for years, of uni, saying goodbye to my parents, head over a book in a library, essay writing at the new laptop I’d been promised in return for good grades, me in a graduation cap, a house a car, a family. But then other images started seeping in. Building houses in Africa, teaching children in Thailand, waterfall walks in Bali with the others, these images brighter, more vivid than the conventional plan that had been swirling through my mind for years.


“I swear only you could be looking at a view like this and still look so moody,” Seb appeared beside me and as if to prove that I truly was on edge I jumped, the scolding coffee swishing around in my stomach.
“Sorry I didn’t realise you were actually so tense,” Seb said, slight amusement permeating his voice. I gave him a tight smile and walked away from the window, placing my cup down on the table next to the infuriating piece of metal that somehow possessed so much power.
“What’s up?” Seb looked slightly wounded as I dodged away from him and I felt guilty on top of everything else, flopping down into one of the arm chairs.
“It’s nothing,” I tried to refrain from sighing but it somehow escaped anyway, causing me to deflate like a balloon animal.
“That long, pitiful sigh says otherwise,” Seb half smiled, getting over his hurt feelings quite easily.
“Besides what happened to the whole talking about everything thing you were going on and on about the other day?”

He threw himself down onto the arm of the chair, throwing his shorts clad legs heavily across my lap. I was almost winded by his weight but smiled despite myself.
“Get off me you fatty,” I laughed, taking one of his dark leg hairs between my fingers, giving it a cautious pull.
He howled and squirmed but didn’t move off me.
“You absolute snake,” he tried not to laugh, “right I was gonna move but now I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong,” he paused then turned his body so that he was virtually straddling me, his knees either side of my thighs and I knew exactly what was coming next.
“Well until you either tell me or I make you tell me,” and then he began to tickle me, his fingers expertly digging into the exact places on my ribs, hips, neck, that he knew would make me screech and try to wriggle away. I tried to ask him to stop, the words getting caught in my throat, within my frantic gasps. 
“Fine, fine, stop!” I screeched, my own voice so high that it even got on my own nerves.
Mercifully he stopped and hoisted himself back onto the arm of the chair, chuckling as he helped me straighten out my clothes and hair and dignity.
“Right, now tell me what’s wrong you moody shit, I thought I was going to be hearing every single thought that went through your head, remember?”
“Don’t be a dick,” I swatted his legs again but held back on any hair pulling, partly because I knew how badly it would end for me but mostly because I knew he’d bested me by using my own words against me.
“Everyone’s in such a good mood,” I held back from saying ‘especially Coralie’, attempting to honour the vow I’d made to myself not to worry anyone else about her.
“I don’t want to bring anyone down with my boring uni stressing. I just have to face the wrath of my parents soon and I’m dreading it. My bloody phone just looks heavy with fumin’ messages off them. I just know I’m going to find it really hard to relax with that thought in my head.”

I nodded over to where my phone was resting, in its deceivingly pretty lilac phone cover.
“Right, this is what we do,” Seb shot up and the feeling finally pulsed back into my legs.
He snatched my phone up, walked over to the fireplace and plopped it gently into a pretty cream vase that looked hand painted with delicate dolphins, puffins and little baby seals.
“Can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.”
“Is that how it works?” a laugh slipped into my voice as I followed him and wrapped my arms around his waist.
“Yep,” he replied matter-of-factly. He turned so that my head was against his warm chest and I breathed him in, feeling safe and composed for the first time that day.
“And the next step is that we have a really nice day with everyone, cos I know Iddy has something good planned, and we chat non-stop so that you don’t even have a chance to think about anything other than me. And then just so you think about nothing but me for a little bit longer, me and you are going out this evening, just the two of us. Ok mardy arse?”
“Ok,” I reached up on tiptoe and pecked him on the cheek.
“And if we do the same for a few days, you can enjoy yourself and still give yourself time to flap about uni, we’re not gonna keep you trapped here forever,” I tried to laugh, knowing that it wasn’t that I was worried about them trapping me here, but that I was more worried about the fact that I might never want to leave, refuse to go home from this little pocket of Wales I’d fallen in love with.
“See I’m not just a really stunning face,” Seb smirked as I finally dragged myself away from him.
“Yeah, you’re definitely not that,” I laughed, squealing as I darted into the kitchen, Seb peeling after me. He caught me around the waist and leant down to kiss me and I returned it deeply, marvelling at how a few sweet words and touches could make everything ok. I’d been seconds away from having a mental breakdown, settling into a foul mood that I would have clung onto for the rest of the day. Love was a funny thing, often painful and awful, but sometimes the only thing to keep you sane.

“For god’s sake you two,” Cor’s voice cut through the moment and we both looked up to see her standing at the front door, the surprise sending us flying apart. I’d assumed that she was still curled up in her fortress of quilts, yet there she stood, fully dressed and rosy cheeked, apparently out of bed and ready before us for the first time in her life.
“You two look suspicious,” she raised one thick blonde eyebrow, “what are you up to?” her sugary sweet voice was undercut with sleazy implications as usual.
I composed myself, getting over the shock of finding a fully conscious Cor before ten A.M and leant back on the counter, trying my best to mimic Cor’s expression, attempting to raise one of my own dark eyebrows but failing miserably, looking extremely constipated, according to Seb, a comment that I decided to ignore completely.
“Talking of suspicious, where have you just come swanning in from, looking all windswept and flushed?”
“Oh shut up,” Cor sighed, the small smile playing around her lips and the colour rising in her cheeks giving away exactly where she’d been.

“With Iddy were we?” Seb smirked, standing in the middle of the face-off of sceptical looks Cor and I were giving each other.
“Yes, we went for a walk actually, it’s already lovely out,” Cor studied her nails, her tone casual, the look on her face anything but.
“Never thought I’d see the day Coralie Jenkins was so infatuated with a guy that she would voluntarily get up before midday to go for a ‘walk’”.
“We did walk!” Coralie protested, then remembering the cool façade that she was trying to pull off, she shrugged as if shaking off any of the emotion she may have inadvertently shown.
“Let’s pretend to be Iddy and Cor,” Seb moved towards me and held me close.
“Oh Cor, you’re just so different to every other girl,” Seb grinned down at me, his hands on either side of my face.
“Oh Iddy, you’re just dreamy,” I sighed, moving in as if to kiss him.
“You two are childish and sickening,” Cor groaned, “and I only came back to tell you that Iddy said to be ready in an hour so stop dicking around and go shower together or whatever it is you sickos do,” and with that, clearly still flustered, she turned on her heel land left. She left Seb and I to our quiet laughter and me to muse that despite our teasing I’d never seen her looking so happy. As she smashed out of the door the remaining tension in my body suddenly disappeared and I felt foolish for giving into my nature again. Everything was good, everything was fine. Saving Cor was my mission and uni wasn’t important, I needed to stop being so selfish.

                                                                                ***

“It’s really pretty here in the evening,” Iddy ran his hand across the rough stone of the ancient structure, “the sky seems like it’s tinged with lilac and indigo. And the moon always seems to be out here. Even if it’s cloudy everywhere else.”
“It’s pretty amazing in this light too,” Cor replied, her voice gentle, obviously sensing the shift in atmosphere. As we’d walked to the monument we’d chatted, teased Iddy and Cor and Sim had attempted to trip us all up, ‘only as a joke’, as he’d hurriedly explained when Seb had attempted to tackle him to the grass. But as we’d approached the magnificent monument an air of calm had settled around us and we all fell silent.

“What did you say it was called again? You know what I’m like with these names,” Cor murmured, following Iddy as he made his way around the border of the weathered stones, that looked as though they were precariously balanced on the soft green ground, three upright stones, delicately supporting a flat, pale stone that seemed to be floating a millimetre above its supports, something magical allowing it to defy gravity. Of course if you looked at it close enough, squinted into the soft golden light, you could see where it was gently leaning against the other stones. But it was nice not to do that.
“It’s called Pentre Ifan. It’s a Neolithic burial chamber.”
Iddy, paused and watched as a few tourists who were mulling around, walked under the elegant roof of the structure, emerging through the other side. As they began to walk away he quickly gestured for us to follow him and we all huddled into the middle of the chamber.
“So a burial chamber? Doesn’t that mean people were buried here?” I whispered, feeling as though we should create as little disturbance as possible inside the little passageway, something preventing me from wanting to even disturb the air. I inspected the speckled stone with the tip of my finger.
“Well no one knows for sure. But it’s likely,” Iddy replied quietly, the hushed tones catching. He slowly bent his knees and lowered himself onto the damp grass below, avoiding leaning against the stones as if he feared that one touch might cause them all to collapse in on us.
“But for some reason it feels to me like if anyone was buried here, they were at peace, you know? Because that’s how I feel whenever I’m here. Locals claim they see fairies here sometimes. Fairies that look like little children playing and laughing,” he said, sounding very much like an official tour guide, before adding, “can’t you feel that sort of atmosphere? The euphoria of being a child?”

As he spoke, we all silently settled onto the ground, each of us breathing in his words, exhaling them deeply and slowly. I gazed up at the grey ceiling, which seemed to be glinting like glitter. I felt like I was inside a snow globe, a pretty little picture, secluded from everything real, fairy dust swirling in the air around me.
We sat there for a moment longer before Iddy began to stand up, still avoiding touching the rock.
“Better get going, don’t wanna get into any trouble.”
He nodded over to a group of tourists who were wearing backpacks and hiking shorts, huddled together, eyeing us suspicious from flushed red faces. We all followed Iddy’s lead. It felt as though we were all crawling out of a little envelope of serenity, emerging into the humid summer air.

“I wasn’t expecting something so intense when you suggested going to see a burial chamber,” Sim said, breaking our overwhelmed silence, laughing slightly, his cheeks flushed from embarrassment.
“So it wasn’t just me then?” I exhaled a laugh, “I wasn’t sure how a place could feel so surreal, I thought I was just imagining it.”
“Nope,” Seb said, “my dad brought me here once when I was younger, wouldn’t stop banging on about the historical details, the reasons why this particular type of rock is used. But I wasn’t really interested in any of that. I just wanted to look and feel and think. So then I started coming here by myself every summer to just sit for a few minutes, clear my head, my soul.”
“That’s how I felt,” Iddy nodded.
“You know my parents have always been the same, so focused on my future, making sure that everything I do can go towards it. But sometimes it’s nice to just sit and think and do nothing. It’s been really nice to be able to forget all that stress for the past few days and just be with you guys. It’s meant a lot to me to be honest.” He sounded different, younger and unguarded, like the little boy who’d been offended when I’d asked him why he was still waiting outside my form room on my first day of year seven. The thought caused my heart to contract with emotion as I instinctively I reached down and gripped his warm hand in mine.
Cor, who was in front of us slightly, turned around and sent a loving smile in our direction and we all smiled back at her, Iddy speeding up to wrap his arm around her waist, her head falling naturally to rest on his shoulder. Sim took his shoes off and slid his feet across the grass and the clovers and the daisies.

I looked at each of them in turn and I understood. I understood that the original perceptions that you create of people mean nothing. Because Cor wasn’t a brat, Sim wasn’t cocky, Iddy wasn’t the dry, emotionless person I’d first thought. Seb was as worried about the future as anyone was. They were all wearing the masks that they’d painted for themselves. Underneath them they all had their imperfections, their blemishes, their cracks, created by stress or fear or sadness. And the rawness of each of their individual stories was beautiful to me. And as much as I knew that it was probably just my idealistic mind, I couldn’t help but think that maybe this trip wasn’t just saving Cor, that it was saving all of us, from becoming the people that we thought we were meant to be.

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