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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3. Chapter 3.

I wasn’t sure how long I’d been asleep but I opened my eyes to find us parked outside a slightly dodgy looking fast food restaurant, which gave off a rodents and mysterious hairs in the food sort of vibe. I guessed that we’d at least been driving well into the afternoon though because the sunlight was different now, giving everything the illusion of being on fire, a soft auburn blaze. Coralie, obviously not aware that I was already awake, tapped me tentatively in the shoulder.
“You hungry Ri?” she murmured.
“What, you mean you’re actually gonna let me out of the car?”
“Of course I am. Got to feed my hostages.”

Inside the grotty looking building I was pleasantly surprised. It was simple and clean, red tables, white menus, prices displayed on a large board behind the counter. It seemed hygienic enough and I was starving having missed having a proper breakfast thanks to my parents’ nonsense. So I decided not to protest when Coralie took it upon herself to order us the same and sat us in a quiet corner of the room, away from the large chattering families and the old couples who picked gingerly at burgers as if they’d never seen anything so unappetising.
I chewed my food slowly, my mind racing with thousands of questions to ask Coralie, trying to settle on which to ask first.
I watched as she impressively devoured her burger in almost two bites, before moving onto the chips. She took three at a time and then to my disgust dipped them into her strawberry milkshake.
“You eat like a pig Cor,” I said instead of any of the questions I probably should have been asking, “how do you stay so thin?”
“Bulimia.” She said around a mouthful of chips.
“That’s really not funny.”
“Chill. You know it’s probably the stress of being friends with you. Takes a lot of energy.”
I ignored her slightly hypocritical comment and instead brought up one of the things at the very top of my thoughts pile.
“I haven’t packed any stuff. How are you going to deal with that then?”
Coralie scoffed as if this was one of the most stupid things I’d ever said.
“I’ve packed my whole wardrobe and we’re basically the same size. We can just divide it all when we get there.”
“How long are we even going to be there? Wherever there is.”
“Indefinitely.”
It was my turn to scoff bitterly. She hadn’t taken the bait by telling me where she was taking me and her answer infuriated me even more. I can’t just drop everything! I felt like screaming in her face as she stuffed another fistful of chips into it, I’m not irresponsible and irrational like you!
But I knew saying the same things to her over and over again was going to get me nowhere and would probably do more bad than good, considering that whatever happened now I was going to be stuck with her for at least another car journey. Despite her constant insistence that I was difficult to deal with it was in fact me who had to tread carefully with her these days, it was sort of like dealing with a temperamental child. This isn’t the end of the world, I reassured myself as I started to get flushed with anger again, once we get there you’ll feel calmer. We can stay for a couple of days then if Cor still refuses to budge I can just call a taxi to come and take me home. As much as the thought of leaving her by herself didn’t sit right with me what else could I do? She was the one who’d started this game.
I needed to ask her other questions, try and get to the bottom of what was going on in her head.

“How can you even afford this? A beach house for an ‘indefinite’ amount of time?”
Coralie who had finished eating by now, wiped her hands on a napkin and pushed her rubbish away before answering me, a wicked smile on her face.
“Thanks to the bank of mummy,” she said, pulling a debit card from her bra, probably thinking that the move was as smooth as anything.
“Cor!” I scolded.
“What? She won’t even notice me or it are missing.”
I knew she was probably right, but it still didn’t sit right with me.
“You could have just asked me,” I sighed.
“You would have said no.”
“Because I have stuff I need to do!”
Coralie scoffed again and to be quite honest I was becoming sick to death of the sound of it.
“You don’t need to, you want to. I hate the idea planted in people’s heads that once you turn eighteen your life is predetermined. Uni, a boring office job, marriage, kids. What about actually living? Experiencing. God life is so tedious. I just want to do something big, something different. The thought of it all makes me want to explode.”
As she spoke, the burger in my stomach began to feel heavy and I swallowed audibly, to stop the mini vomit in my mouth from escaping. It wasn’t just the bad food giving me heartburn. The way Cor spoke was impassioned and she looked a little bit crazy, her eyes wide and bright. I hadn’t seen her so passionate about anything for ages and although I should have been happy, her words for some reason gave me chills. They latched onto something that I had buried at the back of my mind and were tugging at it, trying to set it free.
I must have gone pale because she smiled calmly as if to brush away her outburst and leant across the table towards me.

“RiRi, look. You know I’ve been having a hard time recently, with Jonny. I needed to get away. If I’d stayed, I know I would have ended up like begging him to take me back. I just needed a break and I wanted you with me. We’re going to have fun ok?”
I took a deep breath, held it in my lungs for a moment and then blew it out loudly. What she was saying felt like an excuse, like she wanted to pacify me but I decided to do the same. At this point I was just truly sick of arguing with her.
“A few days Cor. I mean it.”
She brightened up instantly, swinging out of the booth and grabbing my hand.
“Sure m’dear but I reckon you’ll change your mind once you see the house!”

Back at the car, Coralie opened my door for me.
“Thank you,” I chirped, waiting for her to get out of the way so I could close the door, just wanting to sit back and at least attempt to relax for the rest of the journey.
But she continued to lean against the door, rooting through her oversized cream handbag.
“What are you looking for?” I asked too tired, or more accurately too emotionally exhausted, to lift my head from the headrest.
Cor didn’t answer and instead pulled out a floral, silk scarf. She folded it over a few times and before I knew it, the offending article was being thrust into my face.
“Wait, no, what are you doing?” I tried to struggle away but with my grogginess she’d already managed to tie a knot at the back of the scarf that was now looped around my head, completely obscuring my vision.
“Woops, looks like I’ve ruined your hair hun.”
“You’ve blindfolded me,” I said, my tone monotonous, almost not quite believing that I’d actually just been blindfolded, “Do you really need to go to this length?”
“Of course I do. You can’t know where we’re going because you’re just going to blab to our mummies.”
“I won’t-”, I started but she briskly cut me off.
“Oh RiRi, I know you better than anyone, remember?”
I didn’t answer and instead began to laugh, the ridiculousness of the whole situation mingling with my exhaustion and rendering me hysterical.
My door slammed shut and the driver’s side opened. I continued to laugh, my head now leaning against the window.
“Shut up, you idiot.” Cor muttered as she pulled off, which only made me laugh even more.
After a while I calmed down and when I finally stopped laughing, I heard Coralie blow air out of her mouth as if she’d been waiting for me to shut up for quite a while. The thought that I had actually managed to annoy her for once and imagining her expression in my forced darkness, almost started me off again but I refrained. I took the opportunity to fall asleep again, well and truly making up for the sleepless night I’d had the night before.

                                                                        * * *

I woke up a while later, my head bouncing slightly, up and down against the window as the car jolted from side to side, the road uneven. Obviously I didn’t know this for sure because everything was still bathed in blackness for me. I was tempted to take off my makeshift blindfold but felt too sleepy to deal with the fuss Cor was bound to put up. I could feel the cold window against my cheek and could hear rain pelting against the glass. I hoped that the sudden change in weather wasn’t an omen of things to come.
Not long afterwards the car stopped.
“Can I take this bloody thing off now?” I said, suddenly feeling desperate to rip the stifling piece of material away from my face.
“Oh go on then impatient,” Coralie sighed as if I was being insufferable.
“Why are you acting like I’m a pain in the arse when surely you’ve got to see its you-”, as I spoke I struggled with the ridiculously tight knot she’d tied in the scarf, but when I finally managed to take it off I found myself speechless.

We were parked on the top of a grassy verge and out of the windscreen I could clearly see the ferociously lapping waves that were slashing onto the little beach that was perched below us. The sky was grey, the ocean reflecting it colour, seeming impressive and powerful rather than gloomy, the frothy whiteness of the ocean’s surges ravaging the sand and the cliff sides. Its beautiful wildness was breath taking. We were parked next to a house, a few more like it resting upon the top of the grassy hill. It was amazing, painted white with a little yellow door. It was enclosed by a perfectly rustic looking fence, which appeared as though it had been made from driftwood found on the beach below.
Something from one of the boxes in my mind forced its way out of its confinement as I took in my surroundings, providing me with the information that I knew exactly where we were.

“We’re in Pembs aren’t we? Pembrokeshire?” I corrected myself, calling it Pembs a habit I’d picked up a long time ago
“Shit how’d you know?” Cor pouted childishly.
“Because I’ve seen thousands of pictures of the place Cor, what did you think you were just gonna be able to hide where we were this whole time?”
“So you’re planning on staying for a while then?”
“No.”
“Ri you’ve literally always gone on about how much you wanted to come to Pembrokeshire.”
“Cor you know exactly why I always used to want to come here. I can’t believe this is where you’ve brought me.” Cor ignored my obvious distress and shrugged a little.
“Just come and see the inside!” She grinned. She opened her door and I followed, trying again to calm myself down after the latest of Cor’s revelations, that at this point seemed to be targeted directly at stressing me out.
Outside the air was salty and warm. The sound of the crashing waves mingled pleasantly with the wooden wind chimes that were hung from the little porch. We rushed through the rain, and past a tree that I gleefully noticed was decorated with colourful buoys, hanging like flowers from the branches. Coralie opened the little driftwood gate and rushed to the door, lifting up the red door mat. Underneath was a key which she used to let us in.

Inside was as astounding as outside. The furniture was plain, white and pale blue seemingly the theme. Lining the walls were stunning photographs showing seaside scenes, the ocean glowing red at sunset, waves crashing onto rocks and dolphins gracefully darting through the water. In the middle of the main room was a beautiful, modern faux fireplace, lined with seashells and beach pebbles. The real wooden floors were covered by soft, fluffy periwinkle rugs and there were tall bookshelves lining the walls, laden with dozens upon dozens of books. The main feature of the house however was the living room, which was virtually a panel of clear glass that looked directly onto the beach.
“This is beautiful,” I said as I admired the sparkling glass that was currently covered in streams of water, the sea dark and looming in the distance.

“Told you!” Coralie sing-songed, as if the view made up for everything else. It was so breath-taking that for a moment I considering letting her off, but as soon as I turned away from the windows reality rushed back into my awe infused mind. Cor had dragged two suitcases in behind her and was on her knees, rifling through one.
“Essential supplies,” she said, answering my quizzical look by lifting out a bottle of red from within layers of clothes.
It was so typical of her to be thinking about alcohol already but in all honesty I knew that I could with a drink. Or five hundred.
“Pour me one, I’m going to find the bathroom.”
“Ok, here,” she threw me a pair of cotton pyjamas.

The bathroom had large white tiles that were pleasantly warm, heat radiating from underfloor heating. I changed into what Coralie had given me and used the toilet before looking at myself in the oval spot lit mirror, which was resting above the sink. I looked worse than I was expecting and almost recoiled at the sight. My curls were beyond frizzy, my eyes tired. I took the hair tie from around my wrist and rolled my hair into a bun. I checked my watch to find that it was only just 6 o’ clock, yet my body ached and as appealing as a glass of wine was right now, I couldn’t wait to crash in a bed made up with fresh, clean sheets and let everything fade into nothing as I slept. I went back into the living room with the intention of telling Coralie that I was going to bed, only to find that she’d beaten me to it. She was curled up fast asleep on a fat blue arm chair that was pulled up close to the fake, yet soothing flames of the fire, clutching a pillow to her chest. Her expression was puckered with concern even in her sleep. I watched her for a moment and found myself wishing, not for the first time to be able to see what someone was thinking. How beautifully straightforward would that be? Apparently far too straightforward to be allowed.

I padded softly over to her wearing a pair of fluffy white slippers that I’d found on top of a pile of neatly folded towels in the bathroom. On my way over to her, I grabbed a blanket that was draped across one of the sofas and placed it gently over her, trying my hardest not to wake her. I carefully picked up one of the glasses of wine Cor had prematurely poured that were placed on a little table besides her. I took a sip, savouring the strangely pleasant burning sensation it created as it slipped down my throat. I found Coralie’s handbag where it was sitting on the kitchen table and rifled through it.
I eventually found my phone buried at the bottom, underneath empty cigarette packets, half a dozen pens and sticky, unwrapped mint humbugs. I gingerly picked a humbug off the face of my phone and placed my wine glass down on the kitchen table, before wandering back over to the wall of windows. The rain pounded nosily against the glass as I dialed my house phone, sending a not unpleasant shiver down my spine.

“Erin?!” My mother’s voice was frantic when she picked up after very few rings.
“Yeah mum it’s me, I’m fine, calm down.” The next half an hour consisted of me battling against both of my parents who were sharing both the phone and a passionate anger that was directed at me. At least I’d managed to make them agree on something again, even if this time it was their disappointment in me. In between their scolding, mainly when they’d paused for breath, I’d managed to explain what had happened.
“Right, well as soon as she wakes up let her know you’re leaving,” my dad ordered.
“Yeah, get a taxi. Or make her tell you the postcode for where you are, we’ll come and get you,” mum chimed in.
The offer was tempting, my mood and exhaustion causing me to crave my bed and its tower of soft cuddly pillows. I wanted to crawl amongst them, get completely submerged and stay hidden there for eternity. I glanced over at Coralie, her sleeping figure looking small and vulnerable. All I could see was little Cor, snoring away next to me at one of the many sleepovers we’d had when we were younger. More often than not she used to wake up in the middle of the night, nudge me awake and murmur, “Tell me one of your stories to help me get back to sleep RiRi.”
So then, my voice croaky through lack of use I would tell her some silly tale, the words ending up jumbled, floating before my eyes as we both drifted back to sleep.
“Guys, I can’t leave her. I’m worried about her.”
There was a strained silence on the other end of the phone.
“Well be careful Erin. I know she needs looking after and you do such a good job of it but just the two of you, all alone wherever you are, do you really think it’s the best of ideas?” My mum said after a little while.
“I don’t know,” I replied truthfully, “but her alone is an even worse idea. I’m going to stick it out for a few days until I’m sure she’s ok.”

My parents gave their last few concerned comments, followed by I love yous and goodbyes before hanging up.
I turned off the living room lights, leaving Cor to sleep in the soft glow of the fire. I picked the smaller of the two rooms, the one with the best view of the sea. I pulled back the soft, downy duvet and flopped directly in the middle of the large double bed. The soft, cool sheets felt delightful against my legs and as I snuggled into the covers, I almost forgot my cushion den fantasy. I laid on my back and stared unseeing at the ceiling and began to worry about how tomorrow was going to pan out. Halfway through my fretting I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I began instead to tell myself a story about a little girl and a happy family and lots of friends, who read lots of books and made cakes with her Nan, until the words didn’t make sense anymore and I fell asleep.

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