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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15. Chapter 15.

The festival was taking place on large country fields that were nestled high on a coastal perch, a quick nip across the winding road separating the hedge-framed arenas. One field was reserved for the acts and featured a large pop up stage, sheltered under a stark white canopy. There were also water stalls and a few port-a-loos, the rest of the field dotted with bearded hipsters playing folk songs on guitars and girls with flower crowns and long flowing hair playing tambourines and flutes. The second field was more colourful and vibrant, splattered with food and jewellery stalls, people having water fights and playing Frisbee. The air was fragrant with incense, BBQ smoke and suntan cream as people bustled and laughed and sang. We parked up a little distance away, in one of the carparks for Newgale beach and walked the rest of the way.

The air was vibrating with the music and the clatter of the festival, the ambience instantly catching, the noise and effervescence hitting us like a cloud as we arrived at the cattle gate of the second field, Seb instantly spotting a pulled pork burger stall, Cor catching sight of a face painting booth. After a short battle of the wits between the two of them, which involved lots of name calling and repetitive arguments, it was maturely decided that we should eat first, so to avoid getting food all over our face paint. Because apparently we were all five years old. The pulled pork was heavenly, smoky and tender and was lovely washed down with our first pint of the day.
“Come on let’s get all festivaled up now,” Cor insisted, not missing a beat as I took the last bite of my burger. She took my hand and herded me over to a stall donning a table of florescent puffy paints run by dreadlocked women who were just as vibrant as the paint, dressed in colourful saris and baggy trousers.

“I think this is honestly the most Tumblr we’ve ever look, this is hilarious,” Cor examined me when we left the stall, after what felt like hours of poking and tugging and smudging later. I found myself decorated with delicate henna patterns dancing across my hands, beaded braids in my hair and spots of florescent paint marked expertly on my face into a pattern I’d been assured that everyone was having.
“Well we look better than those lot anyway,” I gestured over to where Sim, Seb and Iddy were huddled together, giggling excitedly like extremely overgrown children, picking out transferable tattoos of dogs, pin-up girls and SpongeBob Squarepants for Sim who had made the decision to go for a full sleeve of tats.
“It’s all part of the fun my dear,” Cor teased, tickling my ribs excitedly, “Oh look, scented candles!”
When Sim’s ridiculous sleeve was complete the boys joined us flitting from stall to stall, the sun beating down heavily, acting as our only reminder of the passing time. Around what we all assumed was about 4 o’clock we passed a group of people around our age having a water-balloon fight with a seemingly never ending supply of rainbow coloured balloons.

“Hey wanna join us?” A slight, redheaded girl in a soaked through bikini top and shorts called to us as we stood watching for a moment, “would be nice to have another team to destroy!”
“You’re on,” Sim answered for all of us, momentarily turning his back on the girl to wink at the rest of us, receiving the half amused groans he’d likely expected from me and Cor, before bounding, puppy-like, over to a large green water butt that was brimming with the bright latex parcels.
“Might as well?” Iddy grinned, the rest of us making a pile of our half-drunk beer bottles on a flat corner of the grass, letting them warm in the sun as we played. Our team was less strategic, the others obviously seasoned experts. We darted from place to place, screeching every time we were splattered by the plastic covered water. On the other team there was Sim’s little redhead, two other girls and two guys. Sim was the biggest detriment to our team, allowing the three girls to pelt him with balloons, his only retaliation being to feign injury so that they showed him sympathy from time to time, until they caught on to what he was doing.
“Sim, get up you absolute wimp,” Cor tried to hide her amusement as she darted towards the four of them, balloons at the ready, the girls scattering in a screeching frenzy. Iddy had somehow managed to win over the guys from the other team, forever a people pleaser and was half-heartedly lobbing the balloons at them in between intervals of friendly banter and talk of uni and the weather and travelling. Seb had apparently decided that it was a better use of his time to attack Cor and I, relentlessly following us around the little patch of the field, not waiting for us to catch our breath after being engulfed by one cascade of water, bitingly cold in comparison to our baking skin, before sending another one hurtling in our direction.
“Right,” Cor growled, brushing fresh water from her eyes, the surprisingly waterproof paint that decorated her eyes giving her the air of a crazed tribeswoman, “here’s the plan. I’m going to bombard him and try to wrestle his balloons off him, because I’m clearly the stronger one out of the two of us, whilst you escape to the water butt and stock up for us ok?”

My argument over her claim to being the strongest of the two of us caught in my throat, firstly because any protestation would be total bull and secondly because I could see Seb gearing up again, arm raised.
“Ok,” I half squealed, narrowly avoiding Seb’s ammunition that splashed near my bare feet, making the ground slippery and warm. I darted over to the water butt and ducked down behind it, trying to catch my breath.
“Oh, hello,” came a voice to my left. I turned, startled, almost slipping from the surprise.
“Oh I’m sorry,” it was the tiny redhead who had asked us to join the game. She grabbed my arm to stop me from going arse over tit and grinned at me.
“Didn’t mean to startle you, I’m just hiding from your friend Sim. He’s somehow found a bucket full of iced water and is threatening to tip it over my head.” She spoke with a permeant smile on her face, her blue eyes sparkly and friendly.
“I’m Ffion by the way.”
“Sounds like Sim alright,” I laughed, finally regaining my balance. “I’m Erin,” I smiled back at her, her constant grin somewhat infectious.
“I’m just hiding from my boyfriend who apparently doesn’t understand the concept of teams.”
“Ha Ha really? Which one’s your boyfriend?” Ffion asked, eyes wide with anticipation, as if finding out would be the most exciting thing that would happen to her all day. We both peeked over the top of the water butt and I pointed Seb out, who was currently wrestling with Coralie, an almost demented look of determination on his face, that quickly disappeared into one of pure belief as the balloon they were wrestling over burst over the both of them.
“Cor you absolute mong,” we both heard him shout.
“As you can see, he’s an absolute charmer.”
“Ha!” Ffion let another of her strange laughs burst free, “at least he’s game for a laugh though! So many people aren’t.” She nodded over towards a group of pristine teens standing nearby, looking as though they’d just stepped out of an Urban Outfitters magazine shoot, taking selfies on their iPhones in between intervals of looking less than amused at the racket us lot were making. I laughed, feeling sad for them.
 “So are you guys locals or?” Ffion asked.
As I explained to Ffion about our little impromptu holiday, the sudden realisation that I hadn’t had a proper conversation with anyone outside our little group for what felt like weeks, hit me. We’d been living in a little bubble of ourselves and it had been captivating and peaceful and had clearly brought us all closer together. It had been comforting and surreal at a time when we’d all needed comfort. But nobody could live like that forever. Maybe what I really needed now was to be back in the real world. I suddenly felt the bubble burst and let in the sounds and colour and brightness of the outside world and I liked it. It felt like taking a cold shower after a long warm day in the sun.

As I stood there quietly contemplating, I was hit square in the face by plastic and water, my idealistic thoughts shattered by a balloon wielding Seb, my mind taking a back seat as Ffion and I shared a look, charging towards Seb, our arms full of ammunition. We managed to get a few hits before Seb decided to take me down, charging at me and narrowly avoiding taking tiny Ffion too, before skidding in the water softened grass, sending the both of us hurtling to the ground and into the mud.
“You absolute idiot,” I exclaimed when I finally stopped laughing, reaching up and pretending to kiss him, instead smearing mud across his cheeks.
“Didn’t realise it was time to get dirty already,” Sim appeared above us, grinning dopily, the smile not disappearing even when I shared my mud with the bottom of his legs.

                                                                                                ***

We soon made our way over to the gig field, still caked in mud, accompanied by our new friends, Ffion and her friends Nerys and Lottie even winning Cor, (who usually took a while to warm to new people) over, thanks to their constant chattiness. Iddy and Seb and the other guys who introduced themselves as Freddy and Sion helped to gently push our group to the front of the pop-up stage. We waited there for the main acts to start, chatting and taking it in turns to sip from the warm metal hip flask that Freddie was passing around, announcing that we ‘really didn’t want to know’ when we asked him where he’d been keeping it. The warm liquid inside the flask burned down my throat and seemed to get even warmer as it reached my stomach and spread throughout the rest of my body.

When the music finally started we were all buzzing to dance, jumping around for the more upbeat acts, swaying from side to side to the softer folk pieces, hands intertwined, bodies bumping against each other, all of us becoming one mass of tangled people, moving in perfect unison with each other. The acts went on late into the evening as the sky became blood red, sending its rays sweeping across the crowd, making it feel as though we were dancing right in a sun beam. Laughing, sweating, jumping, twirling, drinking, it was hard to remember that there was anything else in the world apart from the here and now, each other, the music and the setting sun.

“Can we stay like this forever?” Cor shouted to me over the bass and guitar, the both of us jumping up and down, her normally pristine hair ruffled, her face glistening with sweat. I placed my hands on her shoulders so that we were jumping in time with each other.
“Of course we can!” I shouted, the words still getting lost in the music. And for a moment it really felt like we could live like this forever, suspended in the moment, a tiny spec in comparison to the vast universe, caught on repeat, time meaning nothing, just the music and our feet and the warm air. And then Cor stopped jumping and grabbed me around the waist, her face pressed against my collarbones, completely still and a lump formed in my throat, the whole illusion shattered, the hug bowling me over with both its strength and intensity that I almost couldn’t get my legs to work again after she let go. She smiled softly at me before turning to Iddy and grabbing both of his hands, the two of them swaying together. I wasn’t sure whether to be scared or relieved or sad by Cor’s sudden and uncharacteristic show of affection, so instead I shook my head until I couldn’t think anymore and kept dancing.

The acts went on into the night and by the time the sky had plunged into a shimmery darkness we were exhausted, our feet achy, every part of our bodies buzzing from the music and the shocking exercise we’d all just put ourselves through. Since we’d been gone, the second field had become alight with little bonfires and the last glowing embers of bbqs. Incense still burnt strongly in some large tents that wore strings of lights and people were still selling burgers and chips, their vans illuminated by large floor lights. We all agreed that it would be wise to eat something before we carried on drinking. I for one was weak with hunger and knew I’d spend the rest of the night passed out if I didn’t eat something soon. We found a niche little food van that sold all sorts of food topped with pulled pork, obviously a trend. As I hungrily devoured a pulled pork smothered hot dog we wandered around the field, that was flickering enigmatically with the light of the many fires.
“Wanna bite?” I offered the last bite of my hot dog to Cor, secretly hoping that she’d say no and equally worried and thankful when she actually refused it. Instead, she pointed to the bottle of cider that she was swigging from, although personally I had no idea how she could drink so much without eating anything.

We soon found an abandoned bonfire that was on the verge of  dying out.
“We will save you,” Seb whispered dramatically, squatting down in front of it to add some more kindling to feed the flames. Seb and Iddy shuffled off noisily to find some more firewood and the rest of us found seats in front of the comforting sound of the crackling flames.
“Aw man, I’m getting pretty tired,” I groaned after I finished my meal. I stretched my aching legs out in front of me, feeling all my tender muscles tighten then relax. I sighed and let my head fall against Cor’s shoulder.
“Are you as knackered as I am?” I asked, stealing a quick glance at her. Her features were drawn and severe in the firelight. She looked more stressed than tired and merely shrugged in response to my question. I sat up straight, alertness bursting through my drowsiness that had been brought on by the dark and the fire. The exhaustion cleared from my brain like a fog chased away by a large gust of wind. All day she’d been at my side, not saying a lot, which was clearly a little bit strange for miss chopsy, but she’d been smiling, laughing, singing and dancing along with the rest of us. I positioned myself in front of her so that I could see her face. Her expression was one that I was familiar with, tight lips, bulging eyes. This was her ‘I’ve drunk too much and I’m probably gonna spew’ face.
“Are you ok?” My eyes tried to catch hers as I spoke but hers were nervously darting all over the place, avoiding mine consistently.

Before she had a chance to answer me, even though it looked like she wasn’t even going to try to, Sim swooped above us, dangling cups of bubbling brown liquid in front of our eyes.
“Heard you say that you were getting tired girls and I can’t have my merched bailing on me this early on. So I brought you some energy juice. Drink up.”
“What is it?” I asked gingerly, Cor apparently having no such qualms and downing her cup in one, sending my worries about her being on the verge of puking right out the window.
“Vodka Red Bull Ri, I’m no amateur when it comes to keeping the party going like.”
“You do realise that it literally warns you on the can not to mix red bull with alcohol right?”
“Well Ri, I do a lot of things that I’m not supposed to and out of all of them this is far from the worst. So drink up. Take it like a man, like Cor did.”
I hated that saying and Sim fully well knew that, darting off with a grin on his face and dodging the slight kick that I sent in his direction.
“Bottoms up then I guess,” I turned to Cor who still hadn’t said a word and was greeted with a half-hearted smile. The sticky sweetness of the Vodka Red Bull tugged down my throat, sitting like a brick in my stomach, hardening further as Cor murmured to me that she was going to get another drink. I watched her cross the field like an anxious mother watches their child cross the road by themselves and my stomach only became a tiny bit lighter when I felt Seb plop down beside me.
“Alright chops?” He chucked me under the chin.
“I’m alright if you’re alright chubs,” I lied, pocking one of his dimpled cheeks before warily resting my head on his shoulder, expecting retaliation for the chubs comment but clearly he was too out of it to care and I was glad, letting myself melt into him. The others slowly made their way back to the bonfire one by one, carrying various drinks and food.

“Right I reckon we should play a game to get to know each other better,” one of the new boys, Freddy, announced, obviously fancying himself as the ring leader of our higgledy-piggledy group. He was tall and had platinum blonde dreads and a huge cheeky smile and was clearly used to being the centre of attention.
“We should play truths,” he carried on after waiting for everyone’s nods of approvals, “for every truth you answer you get to choose someone else to drink.”
“Or,” Sim stood up next to Freddy, not one to be upstaged in the attention department, “we could play a round of truths and everyone has to answer a question otherwise no one gets to drink. Cos’ I mean drinking is the aim after all, the fun part. I’ve never gotten drinking games where people complain about having to drink. So yeah, this way no one gets away with not answering any dodgy questions,” he finished speaking by sending Ffion a huge mischievous smile and a wink, which was received with an amused roll of the eyes.
Everyone, looking warm and glowy in the firelight, murmured their agreement and we all proceeded to move the circle tighter around the softly crackling fire. The air was still humming with music that was floating softly from every direction, but it was colder now, the fresh sea air caressing us gently, biting but fresh, the smell of the ocean mingling with the sweet yet musty smell of burning wood and smoke.

At house parties with the school lot and occasionally awkward get togethers with Cor’s lot before she stopped bothering with them, I’d detested playing truths or Never Have I Ever, firstly because I hated telling people anything about myself that I didn’t think that they needed to know (and besides my life was pretty tame and boring in comparison to other peoples, which at one point I’d stupidly been embarrassed of) and secondly because I’d always thought that letting people see the real you left you vulnerable, even if it was just for a stupid game. But this time I didn’t protest, reckoning that a bit of truth being spoken possibly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I let my eyes slide towards Cor momentarily before sitting up straighter, adrenaline pumping through my veins.
“Come on then, let’s hear all our tame little secrets,” I grinned.
“Ooo, Ri’s getting feisty, Sim teased, “but my girl’s got the right idea, who wants to go first?”

Sim of course decided that he should start after about a second of waiting to see it anyone else would try to get in there before him, starting with an equally obvious question.
“So how old were we all when we first did the deed?”
“Well I doubt you’ve even done it yet considering you’re basically a thirteen year old,” Iddy rolled his eyes at the childishness of the question.
“Well this thirteen year old has done it loads of times,” Sim shrugged, sending groans echoing around the circle.
We all went from person to person, feeling like a bunch of children
“16”
“15”
“17”
“16
“15” And then we all took a drink at the end.
“Right, I’ve got a more mature one now,” Ffion said, sending a deliberate smirk in Sim’s direction, yet he sat with the usual grin plastered on his face.
“You’ve got to say your first impression about the person sitting to your left.”
“That’s not the game,” Sim half moaned, “I want the juicy stuff.”
“Oh shut it, look you’re on my left so I’ve got to say what  I first thought of you and if you don’t think its truthful then I’ll down my drink.”
“On second thought,” Sim raised his eyebrows and bit down on his tongue cheekily, “go on then.”
Ffion laughed.
“I thought you were hot, cocky, arrogant and a laugh,” she said simply. Sim chuckled.
“See you started off pretty truthful but then you went and added the cocky and arrogant part, so now you have to down your drink.”
Ffion laughed as the rest of us shot to her defence, shouting over each other.
“That’s the true part if anything,” Seb said, “I think she might have to down her drink for the hot comment though.”
“Oh give over, you fancy me and all Sebby boy.”
Sim however finally admitted defeat and moved on to his first impression of Freddy.
“White version of me.”
Freddy thought that Sion was a right geek and Sion thought that Nerys was an insufferable know-it-all. Nerys thought that Lottie was butter-wouldn’t-melt and Lottie thought that Iddy was chill and on a different level to the rest of us. Cor’s legs were draped lazily across Iddy’s lap and we all saw her blush when Iddy told her that he’d thought that she was ballsy, strong and beautiful. Cor then told Seb that she’d thought that he was a clown but a sweet one and Seb told me that his ridiculously romantic first impression of me was that I was a clueless dork. I told Ffion that I’d thought that she seemed friendly and cheerful and welcoming and then we all drank together and moved on.

The mix of questions went from equally as sensible and pleasant as the first impressions one to as stupid and childish as ‘who has had a threesome?’ Freddy and Sim being the only people to have allegedly taken part in this particular activity, the rest of us vocal in our doubt as they high fived over their apparent achievement.
“What’s been your best relationship?” Sion asked.
“If you could be any celebrity, who would you be?”
“Where in the world would you most like to live?”
“Last time you had sex?”
“Favourite time of year?”
“Would you rather down your drink or kiss one person of your choice? Keeping in mind that you actually have to do what you decide,” Sim tried, shamelessly directing his gaze towards Ffion before he was quickly shut down by the rest of us for his ridiculous attempt.

“What are you most scared of?” Lottie asked. It was a completely  innocent, simple question but for some reason it took me by surprise. What was I scared of? I couldn’t think of anything straight away. Apart from spiders of course, but I was reluctant to give such a stupid answer, already tormented enough over the whole spider thing by the others. What am I scared of? What am I scared of? My thoughts chanted. What are you scared of Erin?  And suddenly the question took on a completely different meaning in my mind, something deeper. I half listened to what everyone else was answering, the other half of my mind working in overtime, when suddenly my answer hit me like a bullet in the stomach. The obvious issue that had been lingering around me like a ghost since I’d been a child. I was terrified of change. I really was. While Nerys was admitting that she was in fact afraid of spiders, all I could think of was that I’d gotten so obsessive over uni and getting ready for it because I was trying to cover up my fear of actually leaving for uni. Because if I really let myself wade through all the organised planning and controlled worrying about packing and loans and classes, the core of everything was a fear of leaving home and my normal life.

I heard Sion say that he was scared of chavs but my mind was on the fact that I’d been so upset about my parents arguing and drifting further and further apart from each other. I knew that they shouldn’t be together but I was too scared of the symbolic end of my childhood that would accompany the end of them. Freddy was scared of getting fat. I’d been so unable to deal with the change of Seb being away, of him growing and changing without me that I’d decided to cut him out of my life instead of watching it happen. Sim was scared of being alone, no wait he didn’t say that he said something much cooler apparently and we all just misheard him. I was so scared of losing Cor, of our relationship changing even a little bit that I’d pushed her into applying to the same uni as me even when it had been clear to us both that it wasn’t right for her.

“Oompa loompas,” I heard Ffion say somewhere to my right. The truth was I was afraid to let my guard down, to let people see me for real, to let their opinions of me change. But now I could see how stupid that was. I’d been myself more than ever over the last week and I’d made friends that felt closer to family. So this time I did let my guard down and decided to give them a completely truthful answer. I was a little late with my go however, what with the storm of thought crashing through my head and by the time I went to answer, all eyes were on me, anticipating.

“Change,” I said simply, half hoping they’d get what I  meant, half hoping that it would go straight over their heads, “I’m terrified of it, makes me go crazy.”
The others reacted gently, some nodding in silent agreement, others hardly reacting at all, looking towards Seb for his answer. Seb on the other hand was squeezing my hand comfortingly. Their lack of reaction was in complete contrast to the tingling sense of relief and self-realisation I was feeling, pleasant goose pimples popping up across my flesh, an involuntary smile spreading across my face.
“I’m afraid of waking up one day and forgetting who I am,” Seb said.
“Well I doubt anyone would like that,” I teased, perking up after my revelation about myself had lifted from my shoulders, letting the good mood that had been building over the past few days finally shine through.
“Well its scarier for me because I’m such an amazing person. It wouldn’t be so bad for someone like you who isn’t so great, you could just try the whole life thing again,” Seb ribbed back, his face lit up with a cheeky grin.

We then all turned to Cor but I jumped slightly when I found her gaze already glued tightly on me.
“Cor?” Someone gently prodded, but neither Cor or I looked around to find out who, both of us trapped staring at each other. The honesty of my answer must have shaken something in Cor, must have done something to dislodge hers because as I looked at her, her eyes unlocked from mine and moved instead to the star speckled sky, her demeanour crumpling simultaneously, her body folding in on itself, her arms curling around her legs and her hair falling into her eyes, looking like a scared child trying to protect herself from the world with nothing more than the flesh on her arms.
“I’m afraid of meaning nothing. Just like... just like he did,” she said finally, her voice as small as she looked in that moment. Then before any of us could blink, breathe, think, she was on her feet and running.

“Cor! I jumped up, stumbling over my own legs. I knew something like this was going to happen, I just knew it. She wasn’t ok and she never had been.
By the time I finally managed to get up Cor was a dark shadow in the distance, heading for the entrance to the field.
“Was she talking about her dad?” Seb asked, taking hold of my elbows to steady me.
“Yeah, I think so. I told you I was worried. Come on, we’ve got to find her before she does anything stupid, Seb let go!” I kept my tone as calm as I could and attempted to struggle away from his grip but he saw right through me, keeping a firm hold of me.
“Ok but Ri calm down alright? You being all worked up isn’t going to help the situation. We’ll all split up and look for her.”
“Ok but- ok.” I breathed in deeply, my head clearing up its jumble of thoughts slightly, my heartbeat on the other hand dancing to its own little beat.
“How much should I tell the others?” Seb asked as he gently released my arm, obviously confident that I had regained the ability to stand by myself.
“Tell them the basics about her dad ok? She can tell them anything else she wants to.”
“Ok, go then. Be careful.”

My feet left before my mind did, running in the direction Cor had gone. I darted across to the other field, a cramp brewing in my stomach, sweat forming droplets across almost every surface of my skin. I could imagine everyone else murmuring that I was mad, over reacting, letting Cor play me like a little violin. But I knew Cor like I knew myself and I could tell when she was acting up and I could tell when something was worth getting worked up over. And this was one of those times. She hadn’t mentioned her dad in years and she didn’t let people see her cry and she never ran away from things, yet she’d just done all three. I scanned the field, gripping  at my stomach as if trying to contain my monstrous cramp and glared into the face of everyone I passed, trying to find hers whilst simultaneously trying to block out the horrendous thoughts that were flashing through my ridiculously overactive brain. A sudden gust of wind thrust itself towards me, bringing with it the overpowering smell of the ocean and the sudden realisation of where Cor was bound to be. The most dramatic setting she could envision, the two of us not too different when it came to our theatrics. My cramp became a non-entity as I started running again, heading down the dark road, hoping to god that no cars were going to rear-end me.

I got to Newgale in less than two minutes, having to slow down when I reached the pebbly incline, my footing uneven, my athleticism nowhere near good enough to allow me to run on such a wobbly terrain. When I saw her I don’t think it would be dramatic to say that my heart stopped because I’m pretty sure that it did miss a few beats as I tried to work out what I was seeing. Her small frame was soaked in moonlight at the edge of the water, her head flopped forwards into her lap, making her look like a rag doll, flimsy and frail, lifeless.
“Cor!” I attempted to screech, yet it came out as more of a squeak. I couldn’t lose my second Jenkins, I just couldn’t. I ignored all my instincts and protesting body parts and flung myself down the pebbles. But obviously, willing myself to do something didn’t mean I could actually do it and instead I ended up causing an avalanche of stones to tipple down to the sand, my clumsy body riding along with them. Cor’s head snapped up as she heard my tremendous racket, causing my heart to finally start beating again. She was ok. Despite the fact that I’d almost just flattened her. When I was finally close enough to see her face I could see that she was crying. Really crying. The sobbing, snotty, convulsing kind of crying. Instantly abandoning my own stupid thoughts, ridiculous ideas, crushing stich and my overwhelming relief at finding her, I dropped to the ground and wrapped myself around her, wordlessly holding her.

“It’s the anniversary today RiRi,” Cor managed to whisper, so quietly that it was almost lost to the roaring and splashing of the waves and the howl of the wind. Her outwards acknowledgement of her dad once again threw me a bit. I wasn’t used to the idea of him being verbalised. He’d been an unspoken memory for so long. But something else inside of me sighed with relief. Finally we were speaking about it. Finally every thought I’d had about it didn’t need to coat my heart in a thick, unmoveable substance, I didn’t need to feel ashamed of still not being able to stop thinking about it.
“I know Cor,” I held her tighter, rocking our bodies back and forth to the rhythm of the waves.
“I’ve got to admit I’ve sort of let my mind run away with itself. I mean you’ve been acting so erratically and you’ve seemed so sad and I had this feeling that it was all leading up to today. And I think I’ve been so scared of the thought of me and you being separated that I created this idea in my head that you’re going to hurt yourself and that I need to save you. It’s silly I know but you know what I’m like. And I love you.” When I started speaking to her, the wind and waves crashing around us, I ended up not being able to stop and by the end of it I was crying too. Cor looked up at me, half sniffling, half laughing and I laughed too, at the two of us, sobbing, snotty messes, collapsed onto a painful bed of cold pebbles clinging onto each other.

“I’m not going to do that,” she wiped away the tears on her cheeks with her finger, just for fresh ones to take their place. “I won’t say I didn’t think about it. But thinking about it made me think about you and the last time I tried to hurt myself. When I was in that place back then I felt like I needed to be there. Like as if any other reaction to dad dying wouldn’t be enough. But I didn’t mean for it to go that far. That wasn’t fair on you or Seb or even on me. But thinking about that, that’s why I did this whole thing, invited Seb. You’ve both been so great to me. I wanted to make you happy. Look after you for once. Which is why I also didn’t bring any of this up. We’ve never talked about dad and I didn’t know if you’d want to. I knew he probably meant as much to you as he did to me and you had to deal with me and all my nonsense on top of losing dad. I was just trying to take care of you like you take care of me.”
I laughed unrestrainedly through my tears. This whole time I’d thought I was saving Coralie and she’d been trying to do the same for me.

“It’s like we can’t help ourselves isn’t it?  But Cor, please promise me I’m not going to lose you. It hurts too much. You know it does.”
“I know,” Cor replied softly, “I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about dad recently you know? I’ve been thinking about growing up and moving on and life in general. And how great dad was. He was clever, so clever and that’s what killed him in the end. All of this just wasn’t enough for him. He was amazing yet at the end of it all he meant nothing,” she gulped at the end of her sentence as if she’d almost swallowed her words back, not wanting them to be out there dancing along with the moist sea air.
“He didn’t mean nothing. He made you. You loved him. I loved him,” I sniffed, “he was so special. Even if was only to us.”
“I don’t mean it like that. Not really,” Cor gulped, taking my hands as she saw me getting more worked up, more upset.
“I mean he worked his whole life doing something that obviously didn’t make him happy enough, didn’t fulfil him, until he felt like the whole thing was pointless. He always talked about everywhere he wanted to go, everything he wanted to do but he always said it as if it was already too late. I wish I’d been smart enough to tell him that it wasn’t. But I just can’t live like that, I won’t. And sometimes I feel like I’m going to slip into a life like that, having nothing I’m passionate about, like you are about writing you know? That I’m just going through the motions.”
She paused and looked me straight in the eye.
“He felt as if he was nothing, it breaks my heart but it’s true.”
She’d stopped crying now but her face was still open and pained, vulnerable.
“He felt like part of a system that he couldn’t escape, even though he meant  the world to us, in the larger scale of the universe, he felt like he didn’t mean enough. And it wasn’t true, not at all. But he made himself feel like that, until he became that feeling. So this whole idea of uni and jobs and living my life a certain way, I can’t do it Ri, do you understand now? I’m going to do what he couldn’t, just like he would have wanted me to. I need to see this confusing world and explore, find out what I can be, not what I should be.”

She stopped again and gave a small smile, as if she was embarrassed.
“Is any of this making sense of do I just sound like a drunk emotional, blabbering mess?”
“A little bit of both,” I teased, giving her hands a squeeze. But it really was making sense and I wanted to tell her just how much sense it made, how smart she was, how wonderful she was to be able to take something positive out of something so negative. Cor was the sort of clever that no school or university could make a person and I’d underestimated her strength completely.
“I won’t become my dad Ri. I can’t.”
“You’re not going to. You’re going to find something that you love and if that means you’ve got some more exploring to do and experiences to have then that’s what you’re going to do.”
Cor smiled at me, a soft, beautiful, goofy smile, resting her head on my shoulder. We sat there for a while, letting the sea air dry our tears, leaving salty tract lines running from our eyes to our chins. My head was pounding, feeling as though it had been run over by a tank. In a good way though. Even if that made no sense. We’d had enough sense for one night. Far too much.

“Do you want to go back?” I asked tentatively, fully prepared to hotwire Seb’s car and haphazardly drive her home if that’s what she wanted.
“I really do. Come on. Let’s not waste this night. Let’s never waste a moment again.”
“Isn’t it weird how sharing your thoughts with someone and them telling you that you’re not as mental as you thought you were, is such a good feeling?” Cor grinned, her face puffy but delirious as we trudged back up the stones.
“You wouldn’t believe how good I feel after that Cor. Couple of little drama queens us two.”

Back in the field we’d left what felt like hours ago, we found Seb and Iddy frantically describing Cor to a disgruntled looking barista behind a coffee stall, who obviously only spoke English as a second language and kept repeating, “Milk, sugar?” over and over again.
“Guys!” I called over the barista who was now yelling out the names of several condiments, a look of pure anger on his face.
Seb and Iddy turned in unison, leaving the barista looking completely abandoned as they rushed over to us, Seb instantly enveloping us both in his arms.
“Are you two ok? Everyone’s frantic,” he said, squeezing us closer.
“Everything’s fine, just a little dad remembrance needed. I’ll explain properly later ok?” I said, glancing at Cor who gave me a nod of approval.
“Well I’m just glad my girls are ok,” Seb said kissing us both on the cheek, his hardened expression settling slightly, “although it’s a good thing its dark, you two look like little hamsters and your faces taste like you put your makeup on with a salt lick.”
“Charmer,” I pretended to pull away from him but didn’t resit when he pulled me back into his side.
“Can you guys please do me a massive favour and just do some damage control. I feel stupid. But can you just find the others and tell them that I had a bit of a moment over my dad?” Cor asked after another moment of the three of us holding each other, “I want to go and speak to Iddy for a bit.”
“Sure,” Seb replied, letting her slip under his arm. We watched as she spiralled into Iddy’s outstretched arms, her face pressed into his chest, his face in her fair.

“Let’s go smooth over the aftermath of our little show,” I half smiled, propping Seb’s arm across my shoulders. It was fine if everyone else wanted to think that Cor and I were just wasted and emotional, lovers of attention. We didn’t need anyone to know the truth.
“Can’t say you’re boring mind,” Seb breathed out a breathe that it seemed he’d been holding in for some time, “let’s go and get something to calm my frail nerves first.”
We hunted down some drinks for ourselves, followed by an ‘obligatory stress induced cigarette’ that did in fact seem to soothe Seb but just gave me a coughing fit. Then we purchased a six pack of beers that we passed out to every member of our little group as we found them and reassured them that everything was ok.
“You’d pay good money to see a film as dramatic as that at the cinema wouldn’t you?” I made light of it, trying to ease everyone else back into the jovial moods that Cor and I had managed to jerk them out of. Seb and I managed to herd everyone back to the music field.

The main acts were long gone but smaller, unprofessional bands had adopted the stage, their music raw and unpolished but spine-tinglyingly heartfelt. We stood in front of the stage with a large group of people who were already there dancing and soon enough the alcohol and atmosphere got to us again and we let our inhibitions go. By the time Iddy and Cor joined us we were jumping, twirling, grinning, sweating. Everyone greeted Cor back with hugs and hip-bumps, Freddie swirling her around and around in a circle. People could be so good sometimes. So good.
We danced and laughed and squealed like little children as Cor and Iddy broke away from us during one song, their first kiss interrupted by hoots and jibes as we circled around them. I couldn’t quite grasp how beautiful everything was. It would have been naive to say that everything was going to be ok from then on, because of course it wasn’t. We all had our own stuff to deal with and there was no easy way to solve any of it. But right then everything felt beautiful and that was enough for any of us.

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