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.


13. Chapter 13.

The next day was one of those days that starts slowly, breakfast delegated until lunchtime, pyjamas adjourned until early afternoon.
“Are we really doing nothing all day?” Coralie sighed. Early that morning she’d turned up at the door of Iddy’s house, slightly tussled looking with dark bags under her eyes, carrying a slightly wobbly looking chocolate cake on a china plate, announcing that she’d been up half the night making it, which explained its uneven base and messy icing. She was back in the highest of spirits and had insisted that we all eat the cake together for breakfast, dragging Iddy and a less abiding Sim into the kitchen to have a piece. Sim had gone straight back to bed after wolfing down two pieces, the rest of us lounging around and playing a few games.

I’d spent the whole time we were playing Irish snap studying Cor’s face for any signs that she was still upset with me after last night but if she was, she was doing a great job of hiding it and I wasn’t about to ruin her mood by mentioning it. Sim had emerged at about eleven proclaiming that he was ready to entertain us. Despite dancing a little over-the-top to a few songs that he’d played on his phone and impressively belching the entirety of a sentence, he failed to live up to his promise and spent the majority of his time glued to his Xbox controller. When Cor made her protest however, he perked up a little. He paused his game and turned to stare directly at her.

“Coralie, we are saving ourselves for this evening, so of course we’re not doing anything all day. Do you realise how much energy you’re going to need for the harbour party sesh? Do you?” He paused but only long enough for Cor to take a breath before interjecting with “A lot of energy that’s how much. So try to limit your activities to just breathing. And only do that if you really have to.” When he was finished speaking he nodded in a self-assured way before turning back to his game. Coralie blinked a few times, startled by the sudden blank space in front of her where Sim’s face had previously lingered.
“Well anyway,” she shook her head, reorienting herself, “are any of you even going to get dressed? It smells like morning breath in here.”
“No I think Sim’s just continuously farting over there,” Seb said, kicking his leg out and nudging Sim on the other side of the sofa, “nothing else could explain that gassy look on his face.”
“That thing about not breathing applied to you especially,” Sim replied without taking his eyes off the screen.
“If you feel left out Cor you could always go put your pyjamas back on,” Iddy suggested from the kitchen where he was still picking at the cake.
“Oh aye is it Id?” I teased from where I was kneeling in front of the coffee table, carefully assembling a card pyramid that was promptly swiped down following my comment by a tea towel bearing Iddy.
“I was literally working on that for an hour,” I groaned, stretching my aching legs before dejectedly wandering over to the arm of the chair where Seb was sat. I laid my stiff legs across his lap, which he patted sympathetically as Iddy mussed the cards up further with the tea towel, rubbing salt in the wound.

“I can’t bear this,” Coralie announced after another game of chase the ace. She threw her cards face up on the table in front of her, revealing the ace of spades and likely the reason that she was getting so frustrated with the game.
“Its lovely outside, I can’t just sit here.” She’d started to get jittery around noon, her legs constantly jigging up and down, her pale pink nails tapping a rhythm-less tune on the table top. Infuriating really.
“It’s only cos’ you’re losing Cor, just keep calm and I’m sure you’ll get rid of the ace soon,” I ribbed, nudging her cards with mine, but she’d already stood up.
“No I can’t. I need to do something now.”
“Aw come on Cor, it’s going to be a long night, we’re just taking it easy for a bit, it’ll be fun later won’t it?”
“Well I can’t just sit around wasting time. I’m going for a jog.” I frowned and nudged Seb’s leg with my own under the table. Cor was lazy. It wasn’t mean, it was just true. She was the person who suggested going for a walk, purely to find a pub halfway around and have a pint instead. I couldn’t remember the last time she’d purposely done exercise, counting stretching up to reach the high shelf in a supermarket to get a packet of Doritos down as a workout enough. It wasn’t like her to be this restless and I was trying so hard not to just grab her by the shoulders and not let go until she told me what was going on or promised me that she was fine.
“To be fair I could do with a swim,” Seb’s voice burst through my thoughts like a pin. He nudged my leg back, obviously aware of where my mind was wandering, “You up for it Er?”
“Yeah ok.” After how bad I’d felt about leaving Cor the night before I’d decided not to let her out of my sight for the remainder of our holiday.
“Ok so mum and dad are coming along. Anyone else up for some exercise or maybe some fresh air?”
“Yeah I fancy a dip,” Iddy smiled his usual calm smile and began clearing the cards into a neat pile, “Sim?”
“I’ll come and smoke on the beach. I suppose.”


The five of us soon found ourselves blinking into the sunshine. We walked across the baked grass that burnt our soles, a pain from which we were only relieved of once we reached the cold, damp sand. As we walked, Cor up front in her ‘jogging gear’ that consisted of a tiny pair of shorts and a sports bra, I couldn’t help but despair that my plan to help her didn’t seem to be working. Nothing I was saying or doing seemed to be making anything better, or making her act like herself again. But then again my plans rarely ever worked. I’d always been good at planning revision or scheduling, stuff like that. But I’d never really been very good at planning real life stuff. School hadn’t prepared me for that. I’d either have no idea where to start or my plans would be completely off base and be no help at all. I had a sinking feeling that this plan was one of the latter.

Sim did as promised and instantly flopped into the sand, cigarette in hand, music blaring from his phone. Cor even declined Iddy’s offer to join him for a swim, claiming that she really ‘needed a run’. My eyes bore into the side of her head as she spoke, hoping that she’d feel my gaze and catch my eye and grin and be all like, ‘psyche! As if I was actually going for a run! Sim, give us a drag?” But she didn’t even glance at me, stumbling across the sand looking completely like the inexperienced runner that she absolutely was. Seb and Iddy decided to have race by swimming in on waves, so as Sim puffed and Cor huffed across the beach I was left to wade into the biting water alone.

I splashed against the waves for a while, watching Cor, but soon my thoughts began to overwhelm me to the point that I wouldn’t have actually been surprised if my head had exploded, its remains floating off out to sea, becoming shark food. And so I pushed myself under the water, its icy temperature stealing my breath as I began to fight against the current. As I swam I became my movements, nothing else existing apart from my limbs and the water pushing against them, resisting them. Oddly the sea made me feel strong for once, despite its own strength. I battled against it and refused to give in to its relentless pull. I let the feeling seep into my bones and by the time my rarely used muscles had had enough I felt stronger than I had in a long time. Once again I was in awe of the power of the world, how something like a pool of salty water in a tiny corner of the world could make me feel so much.

I hauled my drained body out of the water and sat on the shore next to Sim to dry off, batting away his constant insistence that ‘one little cigarette wouldn’t kill me’, trying to block him out as I watched the others. Cor had stopped her clumsy running and was in the sea, the water splashing against her knees as she shouted profanities to the boys in an attempt to distract them from catching the monster wave that was hurtling up behind them. To their credit they were doing a good job of ignoring her, until she threatened to flash them however, causing Iddy to get dragged right under the wave, reaching up to drag Seb under too, right at the last second. Even Sim called Cor’s bluff and stopped grumbling about needing a smoking partner to momentarily glance over at her.

I leant back onto my elbows and watched them all against the beautiful blue and turquoise backdrop of sea and sky merging into one, all of them shouting and laughing, breathing and smiling and for some reason the image took me back to the many times I’d sat at my window seat back at home, alternatively reading and people watching. It was times like that and times like these in which my mind couldn’t comprehend how all of this, how human kind were an accident, the results of a few lucky scientific coincidences. I just couldn’t accept it and I was weirdly ok with that, the feeling of the unknown. It was bigger than me, bigger than any of us. I couldn’t control it and I didn’t want to. I could feel myself tearing up again, an apparent hobby that I’d decided to pick up recently. I was constantly on edge of feeling like a middle aged woman going through the menopause, with empty nest syndrome after just watching Love Actually on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

“Are you crying?” Sim cut into my thoughts, his expression half mocking, half perplexed. Without thinking I snatched his cigarette and took a drag before letting the oaky smoke billow into his face, using all of the willpower my body possessed not to cough all over him. He on the other hand coughed and batted vainly at the smoke.
“Erin, I don’t-know-your-middle-name Wynn, what is your problem,” he coughed out, as sternly as he could.
“See, you’re crying now too. You kept blowing smoke in my eyes,” I got up whilst he battled with the smoke and started to walk towards the house before he saw that my tears weren’t exactly as smoke induced as I’d made out.
“My middle name is Bronwen by the way I shouted over my shoulder,” leaving him to laugh at it on his own.


“Can’t say I didn’t warn you,” Sim’s smile could only be described as smug as I plopped myself down into the seat beside him. It was later that evening and I’d been waiting to use our bathroom for almost an hour, Cor evidently deciding that tonight was the perfect time for the world’s longest bath, shouting, “I deserve it after my exhausting run,” at me through the door when I had protested. I would have argued that I hadn’t actually seen much running going on but got the feeling that it would only have encouraged her to stay in there for longer. Instead I’d skulked over to Iddy’s, showered and dressed in Seb’s room but was yet to touch any makeup or hair product, having let Cor know that I’d be back in half an hour and that if she wasn’t out by then I wasn’t afraid to use and abuse the expensive makeup that I knew she was keeping hidden in her room.

“What did you warn me about this time Simmy?” I stretched my legs over the arm of the chair, the fatigue that accompanies sitting in the mollifying sun all day overwhelming me all at once.
“I did say we should just have a lazy day to prepare for tonight but you were all like, ‘shut up Sim we know what we’re doing’. And then what did you all do? Went and swam and ran and got all salty and gross and tired and shower time turned into an all-out battle. You know I had to literally officiate a rather aggressive game of rock, paper, scissors earlier so we could decide whether Seb or Iddy got the first shower? It was brutal.”
I laughed, “how come you weren’t part of this intense rock, paper, scissors game then?”
“Oh I just pushed them both out of the way while they were arguing and went in there. The trick is to catch them off guard see.”
“This party best actually worth it mind, I’m exhausted.”
“How old are you Ri, 80? You’re at your prime you can’t be too tired, it’s an abomination. And besides have you ever been to a party on the harbour before?”
“Well then you can’t say no to his opportunity! You’re not young forever, gotta fit everything in while you can.”
“Ok Sim but you do realise that I didn’t say I wasn’t going to come right? I just said I was tired, I didn’t really need the impassioned speech.”
“Well you should feel lucky you got it, not many people have experienced it to be fair,” Sim playfully swiped at my ponytail.

“What are you little cherubs harping on about then?” Seb sauntered up, throwing my legs off the arm of the chair so that he could sit next to us. His hair was damp, his face dewy, rendering my next question over who’d won the first shower, void.
“Nothing really, Sim was just charming the pants off me as per.”


It had taken Cor 35 minutes to finally vacate the bath, the extra five minutes she’d taken, clearly nothing more than pure insolence. By the time we were finally all ready to leave, the sun had begun to dip behind the ever moving horizon that took its form as the ocean, the fields, and the dips and curves of the swerving lanes that we sped through.
“I’m going to get so drunk that I might actually fall into the harbour by the way guys,” Cor announced as Seb manoeuvred his car into a little space in a makeshift carpark, a muddy field that was already brimming with an assortment of old, colourful cars, screaming of first time owners.
“Do we really need to get that drunk Cor?” I asked lightly, a forced laugh making my voice unnaturally high.

Earlier that night I’d made an executive decision to go easy on the drink, knowing that a drunk Cor was an unpredictable Cor and a drunk Erin was a very unhelpful Erin. The last time we’d gotten off our faces drunk together we’d drunk dialled half of the girls on Chicken Legs’ Facebook page telling them that he had herpes. Not one of our finest moments. The time before that we’d gone to the park in our village and listened to sad music until we’d started crying and a passing police woman had asked us to move along. And the time before that we’d danced on the wall of the beer garden of our local, The King’s Beard, Cor falling off onto the grass banking surrounding it and getting a beautiful yellow bruise the size of a tennis ball on her arse. And God knew the sort of things Cor got up to with her other, less inhibited friends as well. All in all it just didn’t seem like a great idea, our drunken antics far too unpredictable, especially with a harbour wall in play. I was sure that falling off that would deliver a little bit more than a bruise. When I’d told Seb however, he’d insisted that I should let loose.
“You deserve it. Plus I’ll look after Cor. I mean, I don’t want to, I’d rather be buzzed and staring at the moon with you guys but I’m driving anyway so just pass the burden Ri.”
As much as I felt bad for Seb (or you know, not), I’d finally decided that letting loose probably wasn’t the worst idea ever. But Cor’s threat of a full on rager had set me back a mental step again.

“Like, please try not to get so drunk that we have to fish you out of the sea,” I nudged her playfully, trying not to sound like too much of a killjoy.
“Erin let the girl get so drunk that she pulls us all into the sea,” Sim barged his way between the two of us, letting his arms drape across our shoulders, a devilish glint in his eyes, a look that gave me the urge to laugh but also instilled a great anxiety upon me all in one.
“Yeah come on Ri, this is what you girls are here for! These parties are infamous. I just feel bad that old Sebby is our designated driver,” Iddy, normally the voice of calculated reason joined in.
“Ok, don’t rub it in you bell. Anyway, this way I get to watch you all revert back into dribbling children,” Seb took my hand and squeezed. I’d thought many times about telling the boys about Cor’s past, give them a real reason why it was important that we didn’t let her go too far but I couldn’t really see what good it would do, besides from mortifying her and reminding her of those dark days, which was the last thing I wanted to do. The whole point was that in order to save her I wanted to surround her with positive people and fun times. So I decided to shut up and enjoy myself and stop being such an insufferable stress head.

Porthgain Harbour was clearly a pretty little place on a normal day, picturesque, made up from hues of green and blue, surrounded by towering grassy cliffs, the remains of bricks and stones from the industry giving the harbour an air of history and nostalgia. Colourful little boats bobbed around cheerfully in water, which was so vividly turquoise that it looked as though it had been crafted that way with watercolours. Surrounding the little harbour were a jumble of ramshackle pubs and cafes. The locals had gone to great lengths for the party, transforming cute and quaint into something that looked enchanted and charming. Every building in sight was strung with fairy lights, picnic blankets and umbrellas placed on the patches of green grass that separated the buildings, soft music billowing around the little space. There were little white stalls selling Pembrokeshire ale and mouth-watering morsels of crab and muscles. It was like walking into a postcard, the cheery, peaceful atmosphere engulfing me almost instantly.

Following an announcement from Sim it was decided that we were going to hit every stall and pub and spend at least half an hour at each one, to ensure that we ‘sampled all the talent’ before the night was over. We shuffled from place to place, stalls and pubs, drinking and singing and laughing, watching the sun dip lower. The sky was becoming pinker every time we emerged from one of the cool, old buildings that felt more like cottages than pubs. When the sun hit the sea, sending ripples of orange and yellow across the water, which merged into the turquoise like ink running across a page, we sat on one of the picnic blankets, kicking our legs out and chatting, drinking cider. We became as hazy as the air around us, wobbly and tranquil as we joked around, running barefoot across the grass like children, pretending to be carefree and for once, maybe even believing it.

“I don’t know why I ever thought that this would be a boring job, mothering you lot,” Seb smirked at one point as he helped me and Cor from where we’d fallen onto our arses, trying and failing to do cartwheels As the sky got inky and speckled with silver stars we decided to revisit the pubs we’d already been to, wandering through the crowds of tipsy, cheerful people and their clouds of cigarette smoke and the incense of wood burners. I marvelled at how everything looked dreamlike under the pale light of the moon and the strings of little yellow lights. We danced a little under a canopy of a beer garden and Seb ordered bowl after bowl of crispy homemade chips, claiming that he was trying to cancel out the two pints that he’d accidently had. He needn’t have worried however because we seemed to mull around that little harbour for hours on end. The shimmery moon seemed to hang directly above the water as the hours slipped into the early morning and we all decided to lie on the harbour wall, our legs dangling over the edge, our back pressed against the hard stone floor, staring up at the limitless sky above our heads.

When I was a little girl and I couldn’t  sleep at night I’d sometimes lie in bed and think up scenarios, how I’d like my life to turn out like, how I’d look, the job I’d have, the sort of things that I’d do. I’d lie there creating these little stories until I dozed off into a content sleep. This felt like one of those stories, this moment as we lay under our blanket of stars. It was a simple and almost humdrum moment yet tremendous and overwhelming all at once. In fact, this whole holiday had been a little bit of nothing but also everything all at once. I propped myself up onto my elbows, the cool floor solid and sore against my arms as I studied the expressions on everyone else’s faces. Sim, utterly gone, had his eyes closed, his hands clasped on his stomach and if I strained my ears hard enough I was sure that I could almost hear a few billowing snores. Iddy also had his eyes closed but managed to maintain the dignity that Sim so amusingly lacked. He was right up close to Cor, the tops of their arms pushed together, their knees bumping lightly,. Cor’s eyes were wide open and she was staring up at the sky, her face expressionless. For the whole time I watched her she didn’t seem to blink or even breathe. The placated air she gave off made my heart hurt. I really had thought we’d be able to help her. I’d always wanted to save her from herself, from her thoughts but it was starting to look like I couldn’t do that for her. That night I’d finally let my pleasure overshadow my worry and stupidly I felt guilty for doing so. Towards the end of the night, watching her expressionless face, I’d resigned myself to getting her the help she needed. Withdrawing from uni and applying again next year. It was my job and my job alone. Cor and I were family, we were sisters. And everybody else would just have to accept it.

Seb sat up from his place at my side and saw me watching Cor. He tentatively reached up and ran a finger down my cheek, not needing to say anything. We both led back down, my head resting on his shoulder. I breathed in deeply as I stared into oblivion, my mind full of Cor and Seb and home but also in awe of all of the stars and the thought that every single person on the planet had seen these same stars and how mad it was that mere dots on a dark blue canvas could inspire you to want to be better.

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