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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4. Chapter 4.

Although quiet and faraway, the strange sounds of the beach, the lapping waves, squawking seagulls and the ocean breeze rustling through leaves of nearby trees woke me the next morning and it took my muddled mind a moment to register where I was. The rain of the night before seemed to have cleared and a bright sunlight was seeping into the room from around the corners of the blinds. As much as I tempted to stay in bed and to some degree sulk over everything, I knew that I had to go and deal with Coralie. I swung out of the bed and stretched, every muscle in my body protesting, tense and uncomfortable from the stress of the day before. I slipped my feet into the slippers I’d adopted and made my way back into the living room. The bright sunlight flooded spectacularly into the room, making everything gleam and sparkle. The sea was calmer than the day before and glistened a dark turquoise colour in the daylight, the froth from the waves, clean and white.

“Good morning!” Coralie peered into the living room around the fireplace, the only thing separating it from the kitchen.
“I’ve made breakfast,” she beamed as I turned away from admiring the view, “I feel like a proper housewife. You better appreciate this.”
I had to admit, she had done an impressive amount of work that morning. She’d washed out the wine glasses from the night before and they were drying out on the draining board. She’d made us filter coffee, had cooked far too much bacon and had even made French toast, all of which was piled up in the middle of the table which had been set for two.
“It’s the least you could do after kidnapping me,” I said taking a seat and beginning to pile food onto my plate, suddenly ravenous.
“Uh, you mean apart from organising this beautiful holiday for us?” Coralie said indignantly, pouring steaming coffee into our mugs.
“It’s a stolen holiday, which you’ll probably be paying for over the next five years when your mum finds out.”
“Well yeah. But still, you’ve got to admit, this place is beautiful!” Coralie enthusiastically waved her arms around, a piece of French toast hanging from her mouth. Without knowing Cor it would be impossible to guess that she was such a pig when it came to eating.
I laughed, “Yeah, you’ve got me there.”
Coralie shrugged, smiling.

“So do you actually want to go to the beach today?” She smirked once we’d eaten our weight in bacon.
“We might as well. I mean I’m pretty sure you’re not trying to trick me into anything this time.” I got up from my chair, taking the dishes to the sink.
“Ha. Don’t be so sure my dear,” Coralie replied.
“Funny.” I rolled my eyes.
“Just promise me you’re going to relax today. That’s why I did this whole thing after all. We both need a break.”
“I promise,” I sighed as if saying the words was a task in itself. In some ways it was. I was still sort of on edge and for me, relaxing wasn’t as easy as just deciding that I was going to. But if I didn’t just go along with Coralie for a few days and at least try to relax, I felt as if something inside me was going to blow.
“Good! Now go get yourself ready so we can get nice and brown!”

Around an hour later, Coralie and I were making our way down a little dirt path that cut down the grassy ledge and led to the sandy beach. The rain of the night before had left everything smelling fresh and clean. As we got closer to the sea, the air was salty and damp, the sun already high in the sky causing my skin to tingle softly in its heat.
The beach was deserted despite the other beach houses speckled upon the clifftop and so we had our pick of places to set up camp. The cove had a fairly big stretch of soft white sand, the type that reminded me of the Bahamas. In fact, as we placed beach towels onto it and led back, the burning sun almost made me feel as if we were somewhere tropical, the slightly cooler sea breeze the only thing ruining the illusion.

For years I’d been dying to come to Pembrokeshire. Being born and bred in Wales and not visiting its gem of a coastline I’d always felt like a bit of a fraud. But my parents had always preferred to holiday in Devon and Cornwall or even Pwllheli, mixed in with a few foreign holidays. One of my friends in particular had spent the entire summer in ‘Pembs’ as he’d referred to it and would come back in September, skin tanned, sun-bleached hair, raving about the time he’d had once again, showing everyone printed off photos claiming that they never looked as good on a computer screen. And so the more he’d raved about it the more I’d wanted to go, somewhat disbelieving that somewhere in rainy old Wales could look so vibrant and beautiful and enchanted. Whenever I’d asked to visit the West coast my parents had always promised to do it sometime in the future, but for some reason it didn’t feel far enough away from home to constitute as a proper holiday for them. And then they had stopped going on holidays together anyway, hardly able to spend time together at home and I’d given up with my pleas. I’d planned to go another way, but that had fallen through too, until it had looked as though it was unlikely that I would ever go, that all the signs were pointing towards it being a cursed idea. Yet here I was and it was as beautiful a place as I had ever imagined. Yet I still couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe this trip was inherently cursed.

I took off my top and shorts, hoping that the tiny bikini that I’d borrowed from Cor wasn’t as revealing as it felt. Which was probably a stupid thought since there was no one there to see anything anyway. I lathered up with sun cream, ignoring Coralie’s very healthy advice to ‘just let the sun do its work’, before flopping back and losing myself to the sound of the waves crashing onto the sand and the cliff sides before getting pulled back to sea, its rhythm steady and relaxing. After a while I got up and decided to explore some rock pools that lay a few meters away.
They were ragged and sharp, covered in muscles and varying in depth, with seaweed draped lazily across them, little red anemones pulsating gracefully in the warm water and tiny little fish darting around erratically, their silver bodies catching the sun and making them sparkle like diamonds.
I watched for a while, dipping a toe in the water and watching the fish speed away, running a finger through the soft feelers of the anemones, waiting for them to contract and grip onto me.

“Hey RiRi, want a hot chocolate?” Cor called over to me, holding up a flask and two plastic mugs.
She poured us one each and we paddled in the tide as we waited for them to cool. When we sat back down to drink them Cor pulled out a small bundle of sandwiches she’d made that morning while I’d slept.
“Are you impressed? Because I’m impressed with myself,” she said smugly, passing me a chicken mayo.
“It’s definitely new for you, being this organised,” I laughed, “almost as if you’re trying to butter me up.”
Coralie laughed but her expression was uncomfortable and it made me feel slightly bad. This whole thing had obviously been Cor trying to do something nice for us, in her own if slightly deranged way.
“No, but seriously Cor, I know I’ve made a fuss and I mean you could have done this in a much less stressful way, but thank you. I know now that you’re not just doing this to torture me. And today really has been nice, spending time just the two of us. I’ve needed this sort of thing, trust me.”

My words were intended to make Cor smile but strangely seemed to be having the opposite effect, Coralie’s lips turning upside down, her gaze leaving mine, her fingers tracing patterns in the sand.
“What?” I asked, suddenly worried about what I’d possibly said wrong, “What did I say?”
“Nothing,” Coralie replied, her voice small, “I just think you’re probably going to take it all back within a matter of seconds.”
I laughed nervously.
“What are you on about Cor?” As I spoke the sun seemed to hide behind a cloud, bathing me in shade. Coralie however was still sat in blazing sun light. Confused, I craned my neck back, expecting to see the vast blue sky. Instead I was greeted by a pair of big brown eyes. The eyes were attached to a face that from my position was staring at me from upside down. The shock of it caused me to scream. I jumped up, almost head butting the owner of the eyes, grabbing the towel I’d been sitting on, wrapping it around myself, suddenly feeling way too underdressed for the beach.

“Love it when I get that reaction,” the eyes said through the mouth they obviously also possessed.
“What the f-”I stumbled over my words, hoisting my towel up further.
“Much better reaction,” the now fully formed face interrupted me.
“Seb?!”
“RiRi?” Seb had a smile on his face that now looked half amused, half terrified. I couldn’t look at him anymore, the shock of seeing his face after I’d spent so long in bed, my eyes closed, trying to conjure up the image of him, remember every line and detail, caused my stomach to contract, my eyes well up. I looked at Coralie instead, whose expression was as mixed up as Seb’s and I instantly knew she’d done this, her half-smile giving her away. Until I kicked sand in her face that was.
“So I guess you are trying to torture me then.” I shouted over my shoulder as I sped back towards the house, avoiding looking back at the pair of them, Seb with his stupid face and Coralie with sand in her mouth.
I stormed into the house, the tears streaming. It was hard to believe that minutes ago I’d actually been happy, ready to forgive Coralie for the stress she’s put me through the day before. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to forgive her for this.

To be fair, I couldn’t even understand why she was putting me through it. Friends didn’t do things like this. They were supposed to look out for each other, protect each other. Like I was always so bloody concerned about doing for her. I staggered into my dark room, thankful that I’d forgotten to open the blinds that morning and crawled under the covers, still wrapped in the towel from the beach. Then I let the tears come properly, big convulsing sobs that came from the pit of my stomach. I hoped that they could hear me, Coralie and Seb. And it would make them feel so awkward that they would leave the beach, leave the house. Leave me alone forever.

                                                                        * * *
It was the distance that had finished us in the end. Well at least that’s what I told people. And told myself I suppose. I’d known him since primary school. Seb’s real name was Maldwyn but for as long as I could remember he’d somehow gotten everyone to call him Seb. Once I’d gotten to know him better he’d told me that he’d hated the name Maldwyn virtually since the first day he’d been old enough to actually understand that Maldwyn was his name, his North Walien parents insistent about sticking to their Welsh roots. People had often tried to shorten it to Mal and he reckoned it made him feel like a girl, although I wasn’t sure how a five year old could have so many opinions on their name. But despite my doubts about the accuracy of his story, he still had managed to convince everyone, even the teachers in school, to call him Seb, after the boisterous red lobster in his boldly announced favourite film at the time The Little Mermaid.

In primary school he’d been the kid who would do something stupid like stick a pencil up his nose to make everyone laugh. Then when he got sent out of the classroom he’d come back in later on, smiling calmly at the teacher and apologise with the manners of a gentleman. I’d avoided him back then, seeing the class joker, wanting to keep my distance and have nothing to do with his silliness and keep a focus on Miss Peter’s chanting of the timetables. I used to cover my mouth when I laughed at him, not wanting him to know that I didn’t completely disprove of his joking.
Then secondary school came all at once, big and foreboding. Scary. Seb, a year older, was one of the first things I saw when I walked through the big metal gates on my first day. Taller than I remembered but boisterous as ever, looking completely at ease already, king of the castle at a school where there were kids twice his height, bounding past me with a grin on his face.

“Oh hey there teacher’s pet!” I can clearly remember him calling to me as I stumbled up to one of the intimidating buildings, clumsy with nerves.
I didn’t answer him, not in the mood for his teasing ways. He must have sensed this though and stopped in his tracks.
“Hey, you ok? Need me to show you how to get anywhere?” This little bit of kindness changed the whole picture that I’d created of Seb, as a top class joker, who cared only about what he could say or do to get a few laughs. He showed me where my registration class was and I was surprised to find him still there when I emerged, where he’d been waiting for me to come out so that he could show me to my next class. He told me with a cheeky smile that he’d missed his own registration to wait for me because I’d looked that helpless and that if I wanted to get him something to show him my appreciation that I should feel free. This had made me smile slightly and this had seemingly encouraged him, resulting in him incessantly cracking jokes for the remainder of the walk.
That whole week he didn’t leave my side, expect to briefly show others to their classes, his laidback amusing attitude calming down many uptight, nervous year sevens.

And then our closeness had lasted into the rest of the year, me, Seb, Coralie and a few others from school spending the following summer together, out every day, playing football in the park, making frequent visits to the cinema. Except for the few weeks that Seb was away in Pembrokeshire.
Year eight, year nine, year ten, we grew closer, our friendship group getting smaller but more close-knit, our fondness for each other growing stronger.
The summer that I was fifteen and he was sixteen saw constant teasing from our friendship group that by this point consisted of Coralie, Ben, a tall blonde with a constantly sarcastic disposition and Lori, a sweet pixie like girl who never stopped smiling.
“You two are sickening,” Ben would say with a smile on his face.
“Aw I think it’s cute!” Lori would scold him, tapping him on the arm.
“What’re you on about?” Seb chuckled.
“Just get together already,” Coralie sighed, “save us all this will-they, won’t-they shit!”
And so as if following orders, the beginning of year eleven in school saw me and Seb finally become a proper couple. We were inseparable then, for two whole years, all day throughout school, meeting at break and lunch, walking home together. We spent most evenings together too, either at his house or mine, all but passing out on the sofa watching TV and weekends were spent either just the two of us or with the others, eating together, going out together, sleeping together.

And then a year ago he’d been accepted into university and he was leaving and everything was different.
“I could stay if you want. Work for a year, then go to uni with you when you go,” he said one night. We were sitting in his car in a forest, a small way from our village. We often drove there at night and stared up through the sun-roof, through the canopy of leaves at the stars that shone brightly in the vast darkness of the forest.
“No. There’s no way I would let you do that for me.”
Seb sighed deeply.
“I know.”
We’d sat in silence for a while watching the sky, Seb tracing circles on the back of my hand with his finger.
“We can do long distance can’t we? I mean, it’s you and me. I can’t remember anything before us.”
“Maybe that’s not a good thing. Don’t you want to see what else is out there?” I’d asked, instantly regretting my stupidity, chanting Please say no, over and over in my head until he answered me.
“Shut up you idiot. No. We’re going to do it, ok? We’re going to make it through uni because we’re better than everyone else who tries. They’re obviously all imbeciles .”
So Seb had gone off to uni and we’d tried, we really had. But going from seeing someone every day to hearing from them perhaps once a week was so difficult. Sometimes I’d text him and get no reply, I’d ring him and he’d sound distracted. As usual my mind ran away with itself, imagining where he was, who was with him. And so me being me, when he didn’t reply to my texts, I stopped texting him at all. He asked me why I didn’t text him anymore and I gave him a noncommittal answer, not wanting him to think that I was being stupid, clingy, paranoid, or that I didn’t trust him. Because I did trust him. But then I’d see pictures of him on Facebook, out with his uni friends, girls prettier than me by miles, probably more interesting and clever too and my mind would run wild again. And I couldn’t take it, my brain not able to do its usual trick of stuffing things away and forgetting it. I cared too much, worried too much, had too much invested in Seb and the result was that my mind couldn’t stop racing. Did he regret wanting to do long distance? Was he seeing someone else while he was away? Did he still love me? I couldn’t think about anything else.

It was pathetic and also painful that a person had basically become like oxygen to me. It was driving me mental that something that had once taken over my whole life now seemed like nothing but memories. I couldn’t help feeling that it was our relationship that had defined me, Seb and RiRi, the ones who’d been together forever. I couldn’t remember the me I’d been before him and I didn’t think that anyone else could either. He was always on my mind, I was distracted in school checking my phone for messages from him, and he followed me into my dreams. I could no longer see a car as just a car on the road, I’d peer into every one of them, half expecting to see Seb behind the wheel.
Coralie could tell that something was wrong, bombarding me with questions the whole time. Of course I acted as if nothing was wrong, I was fine!
But then, just before he was due home for his Christmas break, I decided what I had to do. The first time I saw him since he left was a dark, gloomy day in December. His car pulled up on my gravelly driveway and I heard as he opened his car door, each step as he walked up to my house, the anticipation of seeing him giving me a highly attuned sense of sound.

I greeted him at the door and drank in his image, his messy black hair, dark eyebrows, skin still olive during winter. His big brown eyes, the huge grin that revealed his many, large white teeth.
“RiRi,” he breathed as I catapulted into his arms. He wrapped them tightly around me, his chin resting on the top of my head, my face pressed into his warm, broad chest, breathing in the scent of him. We stood like that for what seemed like ever, our breathing syncing, neither of us wanting to let go. I knew I had to be the first to though, otherwise I was never going to. So finally, I pulled away and led him inside.
“But why?” he kept repeating when I told him that we were done. I’d looked into his sad brown eyes and considered telling him everything. All my worries, all my paranoia. But the words got caught in my throat, refusing to budge. It wouldn’t change anything if I told him. We’d still be over, there was no way I could take any more of this sort of anxiety from constantly wondering what was going on with him, with us. I’d stopped being a person, instead becoming a part of him that he’d broken off and tossed aside. Telling him would just make him think badly of me, make him think that I was a silly little girl and I didn’t want that, not at all.
“Because I need to concentrate on school. It’s nothing you’ve done, just the way things are.”
Too angry or too upset, I couldn’t tell but Seb didn’t say another word to me. He stood and kissed me on the forehead then left. I’d seen him since then, during holidays, across the street, through a window, but not often. He’d tried texting me a few times but I’d done what I did best, blocking out all of my feelings towards him, pushing them away along with my problems with my parents, the stress of my exams, ignoring it all, trying to pretend that it didn’t exist.

Thoughts of him were confined to dreams and nightmares, cried over then forgotten by morning as if nothing had happened. The one time I’d slipped up and ruined my pretence was when I’d heard from some mutual friends that he was seeing someone else, a blonde, big-boobed twenty something called Jennifer. She seemed to be the complete opposite to me, which for some reason hurt even more. I couldn’t believe how quickly he’d moved on. I knew I had no right to be upset with him. It was me who’d done this to us after all. But I suddenly found myself regretting everything, wanting to talk to him, to apologise. It had been during my Easter break and the night I found out I’d turned up on Coralie’s doorstep, crying and completely against my better judgement we spent the night drinking beers and talking about Seb. I admitted that I wished I’d never broken up with him but couldn’t see what else there was to do.

“Apart from you Cor, he’s all I have,” I’d sobbed.
The next morning I woke up next to Coralie and felt instant shame for piling everything on her. She had her own problems to worry about and I really wasn’t being fair. So when she rolled over in bed, squeezed my hand and said, “Why don’t you just tell him everything you told me?” I’d brushed her aside.
“Better go home now. Revision to get on with!”
And so from that point on I’d thrown myself into school and my A levels. Seb was obviously still on my mind but I put a lot of effort into pushing thoughts of him away, his face, his smile, his infectious laugh. And then Coralie had done what she’d done. Kidnapped me, taken me somewhere against my will, invited my ex-boyfriend and thrown me into the lions cage without a sword. Of course I could face the lion. I could tame it, wrap my arms around its neck and hug it. But I didn’t want to and she knew that. But for some reason she’d decided to prise me away from the bars of the cage kicking and screaming. And I just couldn’t work out why. I was angry at myself for the whole Seb thing. I was perhaps unfairly, a little angry with him too. But mostly I was angry at Coralie. Angry at whatever little game she had decided to play to entertain herself, with me as her little rag-doll.

                                                                        * * *
I stayed there, curled up in bed for what felt like hours, falling asleep to avoid crying and then crying until I felt weak and fell asleep again. It wasn’t just because of Seb. It was everything, Seb, Cor, my parents, uni. It all hit me at once like a tidal wave, knocking me over and dragging me down. By the time I couldn’t bear to stay cooped up in bed anymore, feeling flustered and claustrophobic, it was dark. It seemed Seb and Coralie had had the good sense to stay away. The house was silent. I pulled on a hoodie and a pair of shorts and padded through the dark house, the only light coming from the moon that was hung high in the sky, in the perfect position over the sea. It was both picturesque and bewitching.

I used the torchlight app on my phone to find my way down to the beach, stumbling over stones and tree roots despite it. I sat at the water’s edge, my knees pulled up to my chest. I watched the silvery, moonlight dancing across the water and I felt an urge to reach out and touch it. The salty, fresh smell of the ocean engulfed me and all at once reminded me of family holidays to the seaside when I was little. It made me happy and sad at the same time. Nostalgia overwhelmed me, tearing me between an urge to laugh or to cry.

I felt Seb’s presence before I saw him. He silently sat down beside me, mimicking my position.
“Hey,” he murmured, sounding unsure of his own voice.
“Hey,” I replied, my voice hoarse.
“That’s a nicer reaction than earlier,” he said, a hint of his usual joviality returning to his voice.
I smiled a little, despite myself.
“I know. I’m sorry I overreacted so much. I was just so overwhelmed. Coralie’s been winding me up so much the past few days. She kidnapped me, did you know that? Kidnapped and blindfolded me. I don’t know what her problem is. And I’m sorry she’s dragged you into this craziness too.” The words fell out of my mouth before I could stop them and when I was finished I glanced meekly over at Seb, who was already looking at me.
“I mean it is a bit crazy. But I’m glad she’s dragged me into it. I miss you.”
I scoffed and instantly felt bad. I couldn’t help myself though and before I could think about it I found myself asking, “Why are you here anyway? What about your girlfriend?”
“Oh you heard about that did you? We ended it pretty soon after it started. She always knew that there was someone else on my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I was angry at you. I’m still kind of a bit pissed off. I almost didn’t go through with this whole thing when Coralie suggested it I was still so angry. But I needed to see you, try and force a little bit of an explanation out of you.”

There was a silence between us then in which my heart began to skip.
“I’ve missed you too,” I said after a while. Seb laughed somewhat bitterly, not that I expected any other reaction really.
“Have you? Because it’s taken Coralie’s interfering to actually get you to talk to me.”
“I know. But of course I’ve missed you. I’ve missed everything about you.”
“I missed so much about you Ri, like I couldn’t get the strangest little things out of my mind. Like I missed how you always use after-sun as moisturiser because you like keeping the smell of summer with you.”
“I missed how you always used to pick out random books for me whenever you went into bookstores and somehow they’d always end up being brilliant.”
“I missed how when we used to argue and halfway through you’d realise you were wrong and say ‘oh shut up Maldwyn’. That’s when I’d know I’d won.”
“I missed telling you to shut up.”
“Yeah, I missed that too to be fair.”
Seb looked at me and grinned and I returned the smile without even thinking about it. But the smile fell from Seb’s face as quickly as it had appeared there.
“Then why haven’t you spoken to me since...?” he trailed off, picking up a pebble and tossing it into the sea, where it landed with a loud, satisfying plop.
“I couldn’t talk to you. It was too difficult, not being with you.”
Seb laughed, exasperated.
“So you do care? Then why’d you do it? You broke my heart you know.”

He stared directly into my eyes as he spoke as if searching for answers. It was this combined with the sadness in his voice that made me break down and tell him everything. How alone I’d felt, how I couldn’t stop thinking about what was happening with us. As I spoke, I felt something shift within me. It was as though something had been wedged in my cogs and it had suddenly gotten free and they had begun turning and turning and turning again.
“It’s such a relief to tell you all that,” I said once I was finished explaining. Seb sighed and pulled me into him, his arm lopping around my waist, his body heat radiating into me.
“You should have just told me. I would have tried to do something, change.”
“I couldn’t. I didn’t want you to think that it was anything that you did.”
“RiRi, that’s all I could think!”
I gulped, trying not to let myself cry again.
“I thought I was doing the right thing.”
“Everyone dies trying to do the right thing RiRi. Life’s too short. Look I’m not saying this to you because we’re broken up and I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m saying this because I still care about you. You’re too uptight, too super-organised, too prepared and yes, there is such a thing before you try to argue. You think too much and don’t do enough. Well enough of what makes you happy anyway. And I know that this whole thing is mental. Coralie is mental. And I don’t know what she’s playing at here but I don’t doubt that she’s got good motives. She just wants you guys to enjoy your last summer together. So all I’m going to say to you is this; relax, unwind and enjoy yourself. And when you want to talk, you know where I’ll be.” He pointed to the beach house nearest ours on the hill. He squeezed my shoulders one more time before heaving himself to his feet and walking slowly back up the beach.
 

I watched him until he merged with the darkness then turned back to the shimmering waves, letting their beauty wash over me. With the sea breeze giving me a clear mind for the first time in a long time, I accepted that he was right of course. I spent far too much time pretending that things didn’t faze me, the rest of my time getting worked up over things that didn’t actually matter, the combination of the two toxic, not doing anyone any good. I jumped to my feet, water splashing up my legs.
“Seb, wait up!” I called, hoping he hadn’t gotten too far.

We spent the rest of the night holed up in Seb’s room in his almost identical beach house. Seb was lying on his back, one arm behind his head and I was lying next to him, with my head on his shoulder. We’d been sat like that for hours and the last time we’d checked the time it had been nearing two a.m. We’d spoken about everything and I’d never felt so free, my mind feeling comfortable and relieved instead of packed full and aching, pulsating slightly from the relief of it loss. He’d told me all about university, the friends that he’d made, some who were staying at the beach house with him. Apparently it was one of these oh-so-helpful friends who had suggested staying in these beach houses to begin with, when Coralie had asked whether he and a few friends would like to go away with us for a few day. He spoke about his family, his ill grandmother, his student loans. And I told him everything, all about my worry for Coralie, the stress of my exams, the need to make everyone proud of me, my fear of leaving home, my equal fear of staying there and I told him all about my parents falling out of love.

“So I’ve decided that it’s true what people say. Love isn’t real. Its infatuation and it only lasts for so long before the illusion vanishes and all that’s left behind is disdain.”
Seb laughed.

“What?” I looked up a confused as to why he was laughing when it really wasn’t a funny topic.
“I love that you’re finally actually talking to me but I’ve got to say, that’s total bullshit RiRi.”
“No its not. You either fall out of love or you stay in it, or at least think that you do and then one of you dies and the other goes through total agony.”
“So are you saying you don’t love me anymore?” Seb asked, quite obviously enjoying my discomfort as he put me on the spot.
“You know that’s not what I’m saying,” I said quietly without being able to look at his face.
“Well then what you just said is rubbish. Besides, I’ve seen love last. My Nona and Grampy are still completely in love and they’re frigging ancient. You can see it in their eyes, the way they can’t be away from each other for too long. They adore each other.”
“Well it’s not like that for my parents. They look at each other like they can’t think of anything worse than the idea of spending the rest of their lives together.”
“I’m not saying it’s the same for everyone. But I mean I still love you and you broke my heart.”
“Yeah, you’ve said that like five times,” I tapped his arm lightly and he laughed.
“I know, but look what I’m trying to say is that you need to stop fighting everything because of stupid preconceived ideas you’ve created-”
“They’re not stupid ideas. I’m just saying that sometimes I think it would be easier to protect myself from heartbreak by not putting myself in the position to have my heart broken.”
Seb was silent for a moment, as if what I’d just said answered a lot of the unanswered questions he’d still had over why I’d broken up with him.

“But Ri don’t you think it’s better to enjoy your life though? Rather than putting it off again and again just to try and avoid even the possibility of getting hurt at the very end of it?”
“You really do have an answer for everything don’t you?” I half laughed, still not able to look at him, realising that he actually might be speaking some sense. Might be.
“To all your rubbish yeah,” Seb replied, and I could feel his smile without even seeing it.
“It’s not all rubbish.” I couldn’t help but argue even though I was starting to realise that maybe it wasn’t all that rational either.
“Yeah I know. And I know that you’ve been hurt and that you’re confused and worried and stressed and excited all at the same time. This whole growing up thing is scary as shit but you need to stop freaking out and attacking whatever’s closest. Like us. Just promise me you’ll cheer up and think about it all again with a clear head ok?”
“I can promise you I’ll think about it but I can’t promise that I’ll cheer up. To be honest I’m quite enjoying this whole, moody, brooding staring off to sea thing I have going on.”
“Oh shut up,” Seb said, but I felt his body moving underneath me as he laughed.
“You know you’ve become right chopsy since you’ve been to university, I mean you genuinely haven’t shut up all night.” I interrupted him, sitting up slightly, resting on one arm.

He started to argue but at that point I turned over and kissed him, half to shut him up, as I decided that he’d done his fair share of talking that night, but mostly because he’d already said enough to make me realise that I spent way too much time thinking and not enough time doing. And so I did it without thinking about what it would mean or what might happen after and it felt more natural than anything had felt for a very long time. Despite the fact that I’d spent almost a year trying to deny it, I loved him. And I was done denying anything.

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