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.

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12. Chapter 12.

I rifled through the small pile of clothes that Cor had packed for me, trying to find something warm with little success. Cor appeared to favour bikinis and cotton shorts, nothing that would really fit the ‘warm but not too warm so that you complain about being warm’ guidelines that Seb had so helpfully offered.
“What did you think I was going to be doing?” I held up a tiny bandana style top, “stripping?”
I threw it at Cor, who was lying on my bed, belly down, her chin resting on her hands. She caught the tiny piece of fabric and began examining it as I continued to search through the clothes.

“So are sure I can’t come?” she whined as I lifted up a gypsy style blouse that was lilac with long peasant sleeves and would have to do, being the closest thing I could find to fit the elusive guidelines.
“Seb said just the two of us,” I laughed as Cor threw the top on the floor and rolled onto her back with her usual dramatic flair, throwing her arms out at her sides.
“But Riiiii, it sounds exciting, a big mystery date. I won’t say a word I promise, I’ll just tag along silently.”
“Well first of all, I’ll believe that when I see it,” I tugged the top over my carefully French braided hair, throwing my the old top at Cor, who smacked it away with surprisingly quick reflexes.
“And secondly, this is our first date since we got back together and quite frankly I don’t want to take my child along with me, it’ll only remind me that I’m getting old and saggy,” I’d only just finished yanking on a pair of jeans that were ripped at the knees when the door swung open and Sim catapulted himself from the doorway onto the bed with about as much grace as an old, blind dog, diving into snow.

“Two seconds earlier and you would have had a front row to seeing my entire arse,” I glared at him as I finished buttoning my jeans.
“Damn and I thought that I’d timed it so perfectly and all,” Sim sighed, nudging at Cor until she moved over on the bed. He mimicked her position and they both stared up at me, supporting their heads with their hands.
“So what are we girls talking about then?” Sim inquired innocently.
“I’m just convincing her to take me on her date,” Cor shrugged, “But I don’t think it’s working.”
“Aw I wanna go too. Come on Ri, don’t be so cruel, I want to know what a date with Seb is like. Is it just dreamy?”
I ignored them, walking over to the mirror, taking Cor’s makeup bag with me.
“Come on Erin, take us we’ll be good. You can’t leave us here, we’ll get depressed about being single and end up binge eating all the food in the house.”
“How terrible,” I mocked, paying more attention to the pale pink gloss that I was gently dabbing onto my lips.
“Yeah that actually sounds good Cor, you’re supposed to be convincing her to take us with her you tool.”
“To be fair I have a better idea anyway. If you’re so desperate to go on a date, why don’t you go on one with Iddy and leave Sim here to eat a whole pizza to himself? Everyone wins that way see,”
“That’s not a bad id-“
“Do not finish that sentence Sim. We can’t let her think she’s winning.”
“Maybe she is.”
“Nah, what’s pizza compared to the big fat steak Seb’s most likely to buy her? Shouldn’t he be buying a steak for us too?”
“No actually you freak.”
“Shut up Ri, I’m talking to Sim.”

“What are you lot up to now?” Iddy appeared in the doorway and Cor and Iddy’s heads snapped around with guilty expressions, like two naughty children caught stealing biscuits from the cupboard. I sat gently at the foot of the bed to put my shoes on, playing my part as the wronged parent.
“They’re being saddos and trying to come out with me and Seb.”
Iddy laughed, “You two are genuinely like needy children aren’t you? Leave the poor girl alone and come and drink some warm beers on the beach with me.”
“Ew, why are they warm?” Cor rolled off the bed despite her apparent aversion to warm beer.
“Because someone, whose name rhymes with dim didn’t put them in the fridge when we got back earlier.”
“That’s because I thought you asked me to chill with a beer, not chill the beers,” they all left the room light-heartedly bickering, apparently the mention of beer being all that was needed to distract them.

After one last once over in the mirror I decided to go and find Seb, telling my nerves to get a grip. This wasn’t really our first date, I’d done this a million times before, so I really had no idea what my mind was playing at. I found Seb leaning against his car, his head immersed in what seemed like one of the leaflets from Iddy’s house, which looked as though it was made up of a mosaic of pictures of the ocean. When he saw me approaching he folded the leaflet and tucked it into his back pocket.
“Took your time,” he smiled at me and my heart fluttered. It baffled me that I could still find someone so intoxicating after years of being with them and knowing them for even longer. I found it both beautiful and terrifying. I smiled back at him, trying to steady my mind from spiralling into one of its episodes.
“Yeah well that’s thanks to your less than helpful dress code isn’t it,” I replied as snarky as possible, opening the passenger seat door.
Seb gave me one of his signature half smiles and nudged me with his shoulder as he walked past me on his way to the driver’s seat.
“So where are we going?” I settled into my seat and turned to find him grinning.
“It’s the most Erin Wynn date that I could think of. Now belt up.” For once I did as he said without talking back, smiling as I settled back into my seat, watching outside race past the window.

                                                                                ***

We weren’t driving for long before I began to recognise where we were heading and about half an hour later we arrived back in picturesque St Davids. We parked in the same carpark, which had a glorious view of the cathedral from above. I got out of the car and walked over to the little wall at the corner of the carpark. I leant against it and drank in the majestic medieval building that stood proud and rustic, a blanket of daffodils caressing the grass slopes, framing the steps that led down to the cathedral’s antiquated wooden door.

“It’s so beautiful,” I turned as Seb moved up behind me.
“I know, I can’t believe you call yourself Welsh yet you’ve never been to visit here before,” he nudged me and I nudged back.
“At least I still sound Welsh. You’ve been spending too much time with your uni mates because you genuinely sound English.”
“Take it back,” Seb hissed, his expression extremely indignant as he prodded me in the ribs.
I flinched, holding in the unbecoming squeal that threatened to escape, feeling as though it had the ability to disturb the sleepy little city that we were in. I didn’t reply and Seb grabbed my hands, “Aw Er, tell me you’re lying go on, I can’t have picked up that accent. How could I let this happen? I’ve been so careful,” Seb went on, sounding truly anguished at the thought of his lost accent.
“Sorry to interrupt but is the date? Us bickering in a carpark? Cos’ I mean this is fun but we do this all the time.”
Seb smiled and straightened up from the sorrowful, hunched position, clearly over his grief.
“Ok Ri, impatient much? Come on then.” Seb gently grasped my shoulders and turned me around, leading me towards a little red door directly opposite us that I hadn’t noticed before. It led into a small, ramshackle building that was huddled quaintly in between two taller buildings. It had green ivy and vines dancing across its low slate roof and a Victorian style street lamp that was protruding ornamentally from its wall. There was a little red letterbox near the entrance and a garden of daffodils tucked in behind a grey stone wall. All I could see though the window was an assortment of books. I drank in the little shop, feeling as if I was looking at something straight out of a children’s fairy-tale picture book. Above the door a red and white sign proudly proclaimed, ‘Siop Lyfrau Ty Ddewi’.

“This is the most adorable bookshop I have ever seen.”
We walked up a couple of steps, past the sunny daffodils, that had seen better days but were still standing proudly.
“Let’s go choose some books then,” Seb took my hand and we entered the little shop. Inside was equally as eccentric and charming as outside. Downstairs there were shelves upon shelves of pristine books piled neatly, many to do with welsh folklore or Welsh translations of popular children’s books. There were racks of enigmatic postcards, bursts of blue and green oceans and pink sunsets. I picked one out to send to my parents, a beautiful shot of Pentre Ifan in the early evening, the sky the colour of Parma Violets, the moon a tiny silver dot. I knew that a postcard wouldn’t put them at ease, it was pathetic really, but maybe if they saw the sort of places I’d have to drag myself away from to go home they’d understand a little better.

We found the stairs almost by chance, tucked behind a rack of seaside and landscape watercolours. They were wooden and rackety and loud and we had to walk up them in single file. The upstairs  room was something to behold, stacked to the ceiling with an assortment of dusty old books that were tipping lazily over each other. The room smelt musky and sweet like old paper and ink and a soft light ebbed into the room from a tiny skylight, illuminating the dust that spiralled around in the air. I was in a booklovers heaven and when I took in my surroundings I couldn’t help turning to squeeze Seb around the waist. Thoughtful, soft Seb, as much effort as he put into trying to make us all think otherwise. We spent what felt like hours there, browsing through the heavy, well-loved books, breathing in their papery scent, picking a few out now and then, reading passages, showing each other interesting covers. Soon the light illuminating the little haven of books became heavier, like a low burning candle and Seb suggested that we make a move, gathering the assortment of books we’d collected.

I’d found an aged yet intricately decorated copy of Little Women, its cover mauve with little black flowers swirling across it, as well as an old chalky map of Pembrokeshire that I’d found rolled up inside an old cardboard box. Seb had found a pretty beaten copy of Charles Darwin’s An Origin of the Species that had intrigued him as he’d flicked through it and noticed someone’s spidery scrawl at the bottom of each page, making notes and running commentary on a thesis of their own. He was also clutching another a book that was pale brown in colour, its paperback cover made to look like parchment, but wouldn’t let me see it, sending me to sit outside whilst he got rung up by the cheerful, snowy haired shop keeper.
I waited outside in the warm evening air, watching a fat bumble bee hover around the yellow flowers. Seb soon emerged, a chunky brown paper bag clutched to his chest.
“Let’s have a look then!” I trotted up to him eyeing up the satisfying shape of the bag he was carrying, anticipation building in my chest.

This had always been my favourite thing that Seb and I did together, Seb choosing books for me to read. It had started quite early on in our relationship. We’d gotten together a week before my sixteenth birthday and when he’d asked me what I wanted, I’d said that I didn’t want anything big and asked him to just get me a book I’d been wanting to read for ages. So my birthday had come around and low and behold he’d gotten me the exact wrong book.
“How was I supposed to know that people call their books the same thing? It’s just confusing,” he’d argued when I’d pointed out his mistake. Nevertheless, I’d read the book he’d gotten me instead and found that I absolutely loved it. Ever since then, whenever we’d passed a charity shop full of old used books, I’d insisted that Seb go in and choose a book for me at random and he truly did seem to have a magic touch of sorts, every book that he’d ever picked out for me being magnificent. It was a silly little hobby but it meant a lot to me.

“Once again impatient, just wait a few minutes and all will be revealed.” He held his hand out to me and I considered feigning a sulk for a moment before the excitement took over again and I clutched his hand. We walked through the high archway that opened out to the top of the steps which led down cathedral. We made sure that no one was coming or going before sitting on the top step, finding ourselves face to face with the fairy-like structure. We looked at it for a few moments before Seb rustled inside the paper bag, taking out the parchment-like book, gripping it to his chest again so that I couldn’t read the title. Excitement prickled in my hands as they awaited being handed the smooth, musty scented book from him.
“Right, before I give it you though Ri you already have this book ok? Except your copy has a different cover and its dog-eared and water-beaten. But I couldn’t leave this version after I read the message someone’s written on the inside cover. It made me think of you.”

As he spoke he handed me an almost pristine copy of The Book Thief, a story that I’d read countless times, one of my all-time favourite books. It had an original cover, a picture of a young girl skipping hand in hand with death, the narrator of the beautiful story, the two of them skipping across the parchment covered background.
“Read it,” Seb gently prised the book from my hands and folded back the front cover. On the blank inside cover a message had been written in watery black ink. I read it slowly, a million things rushing through my mind as I did.

Dearest reader, (most likely someone who has stumbled upon this once cherished book in a second-hand bookshop).
I have probably gone with the narrator of this book by the time you’re reading this and my book collection has been donated as per my wishes to my family. But how fabulous that I can say this to you from another realm or place or wherever it is that we go. That’s the power of words you see, they can immortalise you, for good or bad. Anyway, that’s why I really wanted to do something good with my words before leaving. The only message that I wanted to pass on was this: Be good with your words too. Words can hurt and they can heal, they can be hated and they can be loved and they’re ever so important. So be smart with yours. Write, sing, debate, joke. Be kind to them and they’ll be kind to you.


When I looked up tears blurred my vision, the emotion of the passage getting the better of me and I blinked them away. My head brimmed with images of my Nan and of Mr Jenkins, the people who had helped me find the beauty in words. The only people I wanted to show this to and the only people who I couldn’t.
“You always get it right,” I laughed, blinking away the tears that were still threatening to fall.
“You’re not going to cry are you?” There was shock in both Seb’s expression and voice.
“Not much,” I lied.
We sat where we were in silence for a few minutes, Seb’s arm around my waist, my head resting in the comfiest place I knew, each of us examining our new treasures against the backdrop of the gorgeous building and the slowly setting sun.
“Oh shit, we need to get going if we’re going to get there in time,” Seb said, abruptly trashing the serenity we’d settled into, true Seb style.
“What, you mean this isn’t the date?”
“No this is just the starter, come on, get up.”
“You know I don’t think you’ve ever put this much thought into anything before have you?” I prodded as we made our way back to the car.
“No. Don’t get used to it,” Seb grinned.
“We’ll see,” I hopped into my seat and lifted my legs to the dashboard, receiving the anticipated swat from Seb, hardly noticing anything other than the grin that consumed his entire face.
                                                                               
                                                                                ***

Back at the house later that evening Cor and I bundled up and went to sit on the beach, the tide out and far away. We sat under a somewhat itchy tartan blanket that we’d found in an airing cupboard and I relayed every detail of the night to Cor, both of us sipping coffee from travel mugs, Cor crunching loudly on a packet of ginger biscuits. I took my time, telling her every detail, from the bookshop to the boat ride we had gone on next, telling it as though it was one of the stories I used to tell her when we little, not able to stop myself from settling into the familiar pace and tone of voice. We’d boarded the boat at a recently refurbished lifeboat station that stood tall on wooden stilts, with a seaweed strewn ramp leading down to the boats. We’d climbed onto the boast just as the sun had begun to dip in the sky, the clouds becoming cushiony and pink, the water that we skimmed across in the bright red RHIB, glossy and pale. Seb and I had sat at the front of the boat, huddled in next to a family of five, their two youngest children squealing with excitement as the boat bobbed and swerved over waves. We had listened to our tour guides, a middle aged man with leathery sea weathered skin and his cheery son with the same sun darkened skin, as they performed their well-oiled speech about the beautiful coast that we sped past. They pointed out birds like shearwaters, gannets and the last few puffins of the season and we even saw a family of seals basking in the late evening sun. It was exhilarating to let the sea spray gently mist our faces, the wind caressing our hair out of our eyes. We watched the sun dip lower and lower in the sky until it kissed the horizon and created the illusion that the boat was skimming across the surface of the sun itself, water rippling red, pink and orange. It was pure bliss.

“I can’t actually believe he organised it to be honest,” I laughed.
“I can’t wait to meet my Seb,” Cor let out a heavy sigh when I’d finished speaking, letting her head flop to rest on my shoulder.
“You will. First you’ve got to stop chasing shit guys like chicken legs though,” I nudged her playfully. She didn’t respond, pulling the blanket more tightly around her shoulders as the brisk sea breeze swept past us, sending goose pimples sweeping across every surface of exposed skin. I looked down at her, but her face was expressionless. Not sad but a far cry from the breezy, good-humoured mood she’d been in earlier in the evening. She’d even seemed excited when Seb and I had gotten in, insisting that the two of us steal off to gossip, leaving Seb to play games with Sim and Iddy. Her mood had swung so quickly that I hadn’t had a chance to prepare myself. And then I felt a stab of guilt, my mind automatically entering stress mode, wrestling with the overwhelming delight it had settled into after the night I’d had, and the realisation that I’d been inconsiderate and maybe Cor wasn’t doing so good after all. I was torn between my own happiness and Cor’s shittiness.

“Are you ok Cor?” I prodded warily after a few seconds of deafening silence, in which I had originally planned to be laughing over chicken legs during.
“I’m fine,” she cleared her throat and lifted her head off my shoulder, “fine.” Her second ‘fine’ was one too many for me to believe her however. She gathered up her half empty packet of ginger nuts and her cup.
“I’m glad you had a good time but I’m knackered. Going to bed. You should go spend the night with Seb, he’s clearly put in too much work to have no reward.” She attempted to laugh but it came out forced and strangled. She let go of her side of the blanket and let it fall around me, standing up and brushing invisible specs of sand from her legs, her arms. I gathered my courage and decided to confront her there and then. I couldn’t bear the thought of this tip-toeing around going on for any longer, it was torturous.
“Cor, you know I was just joking about chicken legs right? What’s going on? These mood swings, you’re so up then so down, round and round again. I can’t just ignore it anymore and you know you can tell me anything right? Is this-“
“What? Ri. I’m fine. God you’re dramatic. Look I’ll just see you tomorrow ok?”
“No wait I’ll come with you,” I slung the blanket away from my body, attempting to stand up.
“No, go to Seb’s ok? I want to be by myself for a bit anyway.” She’d hardly stopped talking when she turned and walked away, stumbling up the sandy verge.

I remained sat staring at the sea, my chest feeling tight, my stress materialising in the form of busy hands as I ran my fingers thorough the cold, damp sand, letting it slip back down, over and over. Was I just being dramatic? I asked the same question I’d been asking myself through this whole ordeal and although it was perfectly possible with my track record, this time I knew that it was more than my overactive mind at play. Something was up, she was acting erratic and confusing and there had to be some way I could get her to talk to me before something bad happened. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was going to be something really bad. I sat huddled under the itchy blanket until the cold night air seeped into my bones. Then I wrapped the blanket so tightly around myself that it stifled my movements as I shuffled all the way back up the beach. When I reached where the path split, the left leading to Iddy’s house, the right leading to ours, I paused, my hands anxiously bunching and un-bunching. I deliberated going to find Cor and attempting to talk to her again. But then I pictured her harsh laugh as she insisted that nothing was wrong, followed by a sleepless night, tossing and turning, the covers being thrown around, eyes clenched closed, cold sweats. So I turned left instead, trying to ignore the annoying writers’ voice in my head that began narrating as I turned. Maybe if she’d turned right that night, everything would have turned out differently. Everything would have been ok.
“Oh shut up,” I groaned out-loud, laughing pitifully at my own mind. I opened the door to Iddy’s house and rejoiced inwardly as the warm stuffy air enveloped my close to frozen body.

The boys were huddled on the sofa playing on the Xbox.
“Hey Ri,” Iddy glanced briefly in my direction and smiled, his interest almost instantly snatched back to the game.
“Hi Ri,” Sim and Seb said monotonously, but surprisingly in almost perfect unison. I smiled and allowed the sight of their gormless faces to lighten my mood.
“Hiya guys. I’m absolutely frozen so I’m just going to take over Seb’s bed for a little bit. I’ll wait for you there Seb.” I shuffled past them, choosing to ignore the chorus of Sim, Iddy and maybe even Seb if my ears didn’t deceive me, ‘oooing’ provocatively at my announcement.

I helped myself to one of Seb’s t-shirts, one of his bigger ones, that fell to just above my knees. I neatly folded up my own clothes and tucked them onto the bedside table, keeping my anxious hands busy. I even picked up some of Seb’s t-shirts and shorts until I realised what I was doing and chucked them all back where I’d found them, this as satisfactory a way of keeping myself busy as folding them had been. When I couldn’t find anything else to occupy myself with I pulled back the bed covers and withdrew into the bed, like a little tortoise retreating meekly back into its shell. I fully submerged myself under the goose down and led on my back, my cold hands pressed underneath my thighs, partly to warm them up, partly to stop them from moving. As my frozen body started to come back to life I found myself having to fight the urge to catapult myself out of the bed, all the way over to our house, to the pretty vase covered in dolphins and seals and puffins, to reach into it and take my phone back to my cave of feathers. I felt an impulsive urge to mindlessly flick through social media until my head was full of nothing but like buttons, pregnancy announcements and petty arguments. My mind switched however to the thought of the influx of angry texts I was bound to receive from my parents, which helped to divulge the urge like a bucket of ice water thrown over a fire.

So instead I stayed with my nose pressed up against the inside of the soft quilt, breathing in its clean flowery scent. I closed my eyes, trying to entice sleep, despite knowing that it wasn’t going to happen. Soon enough though, the oxygen supply beneath the heavy quilt began to dwindle and I had to surface for air, its abundance in the room outside the cave washing over me like a cool refreshing shower.
I lay staring at the ceiling in the darkness for a while, attempting to clear my mind of any thoughts. In the winter after Seb and I had broken up, I’d attempted to pour my sadness into getting super fit. I’d bought exercise lycras and a purple yoga mat and had enrolled in a three month online yoga class. The flexible well-toned instructors that took up a tiny slither of my laptop screen had been insistent that to become efficient at yoga, you needed to be able to completely clear your mind whilst partaking. But as hard as I’d tried I couldn’t do it. I often found myself in downwards facing dog, pondering how anyone found yoga easy and relaxing, my mind wandering from there to how much I’d rather be eating a plate of cheesy nachos cuddled up in bed or wondering whether maybe Cor wanted to go out for a few drinks. So in the end I had decided that yoga was not only incredibly strenuous, it also made me think more about nonsense purely because it was supposed to have the opposite effect. And so I’d rolled the yoga mat away and shoved it behind my old coats in an airing cupboard in the hallway, where it lay forgotten to this day.

I laughed out loud at the ridiculous irony that once again, an attempt to clear my mind had led to the dredging up of half-forgotten thoughts. I gave up on that idea and dove back under the covers. The engulfing aroma that I was submerged in momentarily, transported me back to feeling like a little kid on a Sunday morning after crawling into my parents’ bed whilst they had their weekly lie in. Their quilt cover had always been clean, white and perfectly pressed and gave me the sensation of being inside a cloud. I stayed still, hoping to savour the feeling for as long as possible but it was gone and I was left pondering how strange it was that a scent had the ability to transport you to another time. The thought however made me remember something else. Often on those morning, when the sun had just appeared on the horizon and I was snuggled in between my parents we would play a game. All three of us would duck under the blanket, my parents staying led down, me sitting opposite them, my legs thrust in front of me, my head acting as a pole for the quilt tipi. I’d felt as though I was in a different world, clean and pure and beautiful. In the clean white light my parents would use their fore and middle fingers to fashion the image of little pairs of legs and would make them run up and down my legs. They’d make them dance and kick and spin and I’d giggle with glee. Then once they’d finished their number I would chose a winner. I had always tried to be fair, letting my mum win one week, my dad the next, but whoever I chose would cause the other to transform their little finger man into a claw and tickle me relentlessly until I was gasping for air and the clean white quilt was wrinkled and twisted around us. It was a pleasant memory, warm and slightly blurred around the edges, but nice even still.
Strangely, it didn’t make me feel sad in the same way that my other childhood memories had the tendency to do these days, especially since my parents had been arguing. It felt bittersweet, sad in a way that I was still happy about having experienced in the first place, rather than feeling bitter that it was in the past, everything feeling so different in the present. I found myself wanting to tell Seb about it rather than curl myself up in a ball and cry resentful tears over it.

So when Seb slipped into the room a little after midnight, that was exactly what I did. He opened the door gently as if he expected me to be asleep, his feet slapping against the wooden floor, ruining his attempt not to disturb me. I remained fully submerged under the covers, ignoring my whispered name that gradually got louder when he failed to see my cocooned shape under the quilt.
“Ri? Are you still here?” Seb clambered onto the bed and I burst from the covers, receiving one of the worst screams I’d ever heard, high pitched and ridiculous. I only managed to stop laughing when Seb caught hold of my arms, his body shaking with his own laughter, tickling me until I surrendered. We’d then had to assure both Sim and Iddy that we were ok, at first through the thick oak door, which had then led them to insisting that they had to come in to check and that they hoped we were dressed. They’d burst into the doorway, looking bemused if slightly perversely disappointed that we were decent yet slightly red-faced from the hysterics. It had taken me quite a while to convince them that it was actually Seb who’d screamed, not me, but they soon conceded and were herded out of the room by a still slightly protesting Seb. Once we’d both calmed down and fallen into a sleepy silence I insisted that we dove under the covers and I told him about the game, the atmosphere switching from jokey to tentative in one swoop, my fingertips sweeping across his arm. We lay there almost nose to nose, whispering and laughing about the game for a while before we fell silent again.

“I thought you were going to spend the night with Cor,” Seb murmured after a while, kissing my cheek gently. The real reason I’d come over flooded back and I felt myself stiffen up.
“I’m worried Seb. I know I’ve been trying to worry less but some things I just can’t ignore.” I spoke into the dark, silent room, that seemed to soak up my words then excrete them back onto us like a cold, unpleasant sludge.
“It’s getting close to the anniversary of her dad and I can’t shake the feeling that she’s taking it harder this year and she’s going to do something stupid because of it. You can’t say you haven’t noticed how erratic she’s been acting all summer.” It was the first time I’d actually said it out loud and the words tasted bad on my tongue. It was equally as relieving to finally voice how I was feeling but now it felt more real than it ever had and the thought made me squirm. Seb didn’t say anything for a while and I didn’t mind. I didn’t really need him to say anything, I’d just needed to share the burden with someone. I felt as if my head has been cleaned out with a healthy sharing of drain cleaner, leaving it clear and build up free. Its emptiness caused it to throb gently. I had almost drifted off into an unburdened sleep when Seb moved closer to me, wrapping his arms around me and pressing himself as close to me as physically possible. I hadn’t wanted to bring it up to him earlier, still convinced I could manage it by myself, remembering the vow we’d made back in school to get her help if we ever thought she needed it again. But it did feel nice to share it with someone who could understand.

“We’ll look after her I promise. You two will always look after each other.” His breath was warm and tickly as he whispered in my ear but his words soothed me in a way that I wasn’t expecting, echoing almost exactly what Mr Jenkins had said to us, back on that sun dappled Sunday on the beach at Porthcawl.

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