Saving Coralie.

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  • Published: 1 Jan 2017
  • Updated: 1 Jan 2017
  • Status: Complete
Coralie and Erin are more like sisters and friends. They've been through everything together, the good the bad and the ugly. Which is why when Coralie kidnaps Erin and takes her to a secluded beach house, Erin gives her the benefit of the doubt. The girls find themselves in Pembrokeshire, the beautiful West coast of Wales, and the beautiful scenery is almost enough to make Erin forget that she's been kidnapped. Almost. She knows that Cor's acting weird and she thinks that she knows why, a memory that she's pushed to the back of her mind that keeps trying to force its way out. The one thing she does know for sure though is that Coralie needs saving. The trip turns out to be more tumultuous than either girl could ever have imagined. A story of love, friendship, grieving and unforgettable summers.

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5. Chapter 5.

“Coralie will be wondering where you are.” Seb heaved himself back into bed beside to me after getting up to pull open the curtains. His room was at the front of the house, the early morning sun illuminating the sea view spectacularly. I groaned and rolled onto my stomach.
“Good, she can keep wondering for all I care. She can wonder until she grows old and dies.”
Seb chuckled and gently rolled me back over onto my back, leaning down to kiss my cheek.
“Don’t be too hard on her. And by that I mean waiting for her to die for example.”
I blew air out of my nose and folded my arms across my chest suddenly feeling too exposed. I couldn’t help it, I was still absolutely fuming at Cor. Even if her meddling had somehow gone right for once, I still felt massively deceived and even a little bit betrayed if I was going to be really dramatic about it. And in all fairness I was in the mood to be a little bit dramatic.

“Where did she even go yesterday? After I kicked sand in her face I mean? I clearly scared her away from the house with my show of emotional pain.”
Seb laughed again, to my dismay getting out of bed. He started collecting the dirty dishes that littered the floor from the late night/ early morning snacks we’d wolfed down.
“I think she went into town with Iddy and Sim, you know, my uni friends. I think I heard them get in not long after you went to sleep.”
I sat up abruptly.
“Wait, so you’re telling me that instead of sitting around feeling incredibly bad and guilty and terrible for being such a bad friend and all that stuff, she was out flirting and drinking and loving life?”
“Yes.”
“Seriously?”
“Well I wouldn’t go that far,” Seb chuckled, amused, “Iddy and Sim aren’t as easily taken in as the guys from home are, they’ll give her as good as they get I promise. They won’t let her walk all over them.”
“Good,” I smirked, satisfied.
“I don’t envy Coralie today anyway,” Seb said over his shoulder as he walked into the kitchen, laden with the pile of dishes, “you’re in your nasty mood. I can see it on your face.”
“Excuse me,” I sat up in bed but my indignation was lost on Seb who had already left the room. I jumped up, ripping one of the sheets off the bed and wrapping it around myself as I scrambled after him.

“I am not nasty!” I snapped somewhat breathlessly as I straightened my sheet.
Seb placed the dishes in the sink and turned to face me, smiling defiantly.
“You followed me out here to have a go at me Ri, that’s pretty nasty like,” he raised an eyebrow, still grinning.
“Oh shut up Maldwyn,” I half laughed, realising that he was spot on that I called him Maldwyn whenever I recognised that there was no merit in carrying on an argument. I dramatically slung the end of my sheet over my shoulder creating a sloppy toga and flopped down into a kitchen chair.
“I’m just going to sit here all day anyway. In my sheet. And you can bring me books to read and food to eat.”
“No,” Seb laughed and ran his hand through the running water, checking the temperature.
“Yes.” I argued with little gusto, knowing I was getting nowhere with my moaning.
“Fine. But then how am I supposed to explain to Iddy and Sim that there’s a moody girl wrapped in a sheet, sitting at our dining table refusing to budge, who is likely to be nasty to you if you happen to walk past and will probably try to eat everything that we have in the kitchen?”
“That’s rude,” I scoffed even if it wasn’t completely untrue, “well you could always just introduce me. Then tell them my sorrowful story. They’ll understand.”
“But what if Coralie’s gotten to them first?”
“Ugh I bet she has,” I groaned, letting my head flop down onto the table top.

“I don’t want to see Coralie,” I said after a while of letting my forehead lean against the cold hard table top and Seb washed dishes.
“It’s going to be uncomfortable,” I moaned, my voice muffled by the table. Seb laughed unhelpfully before sitting down beside me.
“Go see Coralie you drama queen. You don’t have to forgive her or you know, even pretend you’re all happy with her. But I refuse to let you mope around here all day, as much as I want you to.”
I looked up from the table and he kissed me gently on the part of my forehead that had just been pressed up against the wooden table top.
“How normal does this feel? You and me I mean. You moping and being melodramatic, me being so sensible? And this ridiculously comfortable pattern is all down to Cor.”
“Get stuffed,” I laughed conceding. I couldn’t help thinking that it really was strange how normal being with Seb felt though. It felt as though we’d never been apart. And I did owe Cor for that, even if she had gone about it in the most traumatic way possible. I wasn’t exactly ready to talk to her, but seeing her face without having the urge to punch her in it would be a start.

“Fine,” I groaned loudly, pushing myself away from the table, keeping up my dramatic performance but instantly regretting my flouncy actions as my sheet got caught on the legs of the chair that ended up dragging it to the floor.
“And then,” Seb said sounding quite gleeful at my humiliation as he helped to wrap the sheet back around my shoulders, “later on we can all have a BBQ or something. That should give me some time to do any damage repair that your little half-dressed rampage this morning might have caused, considering Sim and Iddy are trying to sleep,” he whispered the last few words and patted me on the back as if I was a child he’d just dressed. I attempted to kick him but the damned sheet got in the way again, so instead I reached over and drank from his fresh cup of coffee.
“Cheers,” I whispered, before putting my upmost effort into swishing my way out of the room to go and get dressed, mostly concentrating on not tripping over the sheet.

                                                                         ***                              


Back at ours Coralie was waiting for me in the kitchen, although when I walked in she tried her best to pretend that she wasn’t, topping her cup up with coffee, before leaning against the kitchen surface and taking a sip. I decided that I was going to ignore her the second I saw her and instead of acknowledging the fact that she was obviously waiting to talk to me I walked straight past her without even glancing in her direction. My anger at her was still flickering like a little flame in my stomach, refusing to go out despite everything that was trying to dowse it. I mean, if I really thought about it she’d done me a favour, let me get everything off my chest with Seb, something that I probably never would have done otherwise, through my own stubbornness. But she’d done it in such a forceful, sneaky way and as much as I tried I couldn’t get my head around why. The whole thing could have gone completely balls up, leaving me and Seb more broken than ever. It was pure luck that it had gone like it had. My anger was more at the fact that I couldn’t understand what was going on with Cor rather than at Cor herself.

When Cor realised I wasn’t going to readily run into her arms repeatedly thanking her, she followed me to my room.
“RiRi,” she said quietly from behind me.
“Save it Cor,” I said, suddenly tired, too tired to hear any grovelling or excuses.
“But I’ve been worried Ri. I got in late and you were gone. Were you at Seb’s?”
I reluctantly turned to face her
“If you were so worried how come you didn’t come and look for me then?”
“Well I just assumed-”
“Assumed what? That your meddling worked and everything with me and Seb was hunky-dory again?”
“It wasn’t meddling Ri.”
“What was it then Cor? Because I’m completely lost with what you’re doing here.”
“I’m trying to help you. The whole Seb thing was awful for you, I could see that! ”
“Help me? I don’t need any help! I don’t know why you think that you of all people could help me, I’m doing absolutely fine!”
“You’re not fine, you’re lying!”
“How would you know I’m lying?”
“Because Seb’s my friend too!” Cor’s voice suddenly broke, her eyes manic, “and if I was missing him as much as I was, I couldn’t even begin to think how much you were missing him, ok? I needed him and I needed you and I needed the you that you are when Seb’s here.”

When she finished we both fell silent and I softened immensely, the fire in my stomach straining to stay alight at the sight of Coralie’s defeated expression. I sighed and sat on the end of my bed, rubbing my eyes with the palm of my hands.
“Look Cor I’m not pissed at you anymore, I’m past that. And in all fairness me and Seb have had a lovely chat and we’re in a good place. At the end of the day all’s well that ends well, so thank you for that. But you can’t just do stuff like this, muck with people’s lives. You’ve been acting crazy the past few days and you’ve dragged me into it. And usually you know I wouldn’t mind but this time it feels like you’ve decided to play one of your games and you’re using me as your pawn. So this is it now ok? Stop the games.”
Cor nodded wordlessly, which was a new approach for her but it was what I had expected after my outburst. She wasn’t used to people talking back to her, especially me. But I was done tiptoeing around her, sheltering her, especially if the same wasn’t being done for me.
“Now get out, I’m going to shower. Maybe I’ll be able to speak to you properly when I’m done,” I felt more exhausted than I had before I’d gone to bed the night before. Cor nodded, holding her hands up as if in surrender, picked up her cup of coffee from where she’d placed it during her passionate rant and slipped out of my room.

As expected the shower did make me feel better. I often wished it was socially expectable to live in the shower, because if it was then that’s where I’d be. The hot steamy water infused with the scents of jasmine and camellia oils from my shampoo streamed over me, invigorating and opening up my pores and also freshening my mind, washing away the messiness of the day before.
By the time I got out of the shower Cor had laid a fresh outfit out on my bed. I’d forgotten the ridiculous reality that I didn’t actually have any clothes of my own. I shuffled through the clothes, the little pair of pretty embroidered shorts, the halter neck top and the borrowed Victoria Secret underwear, the bra one cup size too big. From the folds of fabric fell a piece of paper. On it Coralie had written ‘I’m sorry Ri. I promise you can borrow all my best underwear all week. Love you.’ I couldn’t help my smirk at her note. She was trying, I knew that. But she wouldn’t have to be trying if she hadn’t set up this strange secret holiday of deceit. As I began to dress I let out a little laugh as I realised that I was being dramatic once again, even with the things I was thinking to myself. But at the end of the day I was confused about what Cor was doing. And I absolutely despised being confused.


                                                                       ***

The sun was low in the sky as we made our way to the beach later that day, the sky pink and ember like, the sea golden. Seb was up front with Iddy and Sim, who I was actually yet to even properly meet, a hurried hello as we met outside our houses, the extent of our communication. They were leading the way, laughing and joking boisterously, carrying bags of supplies between them. Coralie walked silently beside me. We hadn’t spoken all day, me reading in front of the wall of windows in the living room, keeping one eye on the bewitching ocean, her pacing around the house unpacking her things and stuffing her face, and other things that I made of conscious effort of not watching in case I accidently forgot I was in a mood with her and started up a conversation. She was still respecting our unspoken decision to not speak, silently spinning her thumb ring around and around her thumb. It was weird not having her chirpy comments in my ear as we walked.

“Shall I go and offer to pull Sim’s shorts up for him? Wouldn’t mind offering to be helpful for once if it meant doing that,” I could hear her saying as clear as day in my mind, a brazen smile appearing on her face as she nodded at Sim’s muscly back, his board shorts having slipped down slightly as he struggled with a disposable BBQ and a ridiculous amount of burger baps.
I reached down and squeezed Coralie’s fidgeting hand.
“You forgive me?” Her head snapped up instantly, her eyes wide with anticipation. She looked like she cared, she really did.
“You’re forgiven. We’re not great, but you’re forgiven.” Coralie grabbed me, wrapping her arms around my whole body and hugging me tightly to her chest.
“Great! Thank you,” she breathed into my hair, from her towering height of 5’7 opposed to my whole 5’3. As she pulled me into her the scent of the many cigarettes she’d clearly gotten through that day, mingled with her vanilla perfume, infiltrating my senses.
“Well not great, good. Good,” she repeated, letting go of the full body hug but keeping a tight grip on my hand as we continued our walk, the boys apparently oblivious to the fact that we’d stopped walking for a good two minutes. We walked hand in hand the rest of the way, her gripping my hand like a child clinging to the hand of their mother after being shouted at for not crossing the road properly.
“I’m glad we’re talking again,” Cor started straight back in after just one beat of silence between us, “because I’ve been dying to make a comment about Sim’s cute little bum poking out, but I thought it might be a little bit inappropriate considering the circumstances.”
I laughed. I knew her so well. So well but somehow not at all, a thought which terrified me.

The beach really was at its prime that evening. The waves were soft and frothy, the red sky stained with streaks of pink and blue. We sat huddled together in a carelessly assembled circle all leaning in towards the dancing flames of the BBQ, its smoky aroma floating around us, carried by the warm evening breeze.
I sat cuddled into Seb on the grainy sand, a tartan blanket wrapped around our shoulders, our legs entangled. Iddy took care of the BBQ, proudly announcing that his BBQ bangers were beyond dispute the best that any of us would ever eat, which naturally resulted in a round of laughter.
Coralie and Sim sat on beach chairs, sipping beers, Cor occasionally reaching down to play with little pieces of my hair, clearly still in full on suck up mode, not that I was complaining. Sim and Iddy had officially introduced themselves to me with large grins on their faces, which I couldn’t help hoping meant that they were just very friendly, not that they’d seen me swanning around in my sheet earlier that day.

Sim was really tall with coffee coloured hair. He had met Iddy as a young child and had been introduced to Seb by him when they’d all ended up at the same university that year, but had since decided that uni wasn’t really for him and hadn’t turned up to any of his exams and had gone for a few nice hikes instead apparently. He told me all about how he liked long walks on the beach, surfing and other water sports, steak dinners and the colour green, that he grew up in Pembrokeshire and that his full name was actually Seimon which was the Welsh version of Simon before Seb interjected suggesting that he was perhaps taking introducing himself a bit literally.
I’d heard of Iddy before but I’d never met him or put a face to his name. Idris was a childhood friend of Seb’s and the co-star of the stories Seb had always arrived home every summer telling. In my mind Iddy’s name was tied to the mysterious boy named after a Welsh mountain that Seb had slipped away to stay with for a few weeks every summer for as long as I’d known him. Iddy was older than the others and had just finished his third year studying marine biology. He and Sim were planning on going travelling for a while before he was going to come back to finish his masters. Or maybe something different, depending on whatever life decided to throw at him, as he put it. Iddy was quieter than Sim, the few years he had on him clearly rendering him more mature. He joined in with the joking but it was in a calmer way, laid back sipping his beer, his long limbs tanned golden to match his hair, a relaxed smile on his face.

I was also incredibly impressed by the way he managed Coralie’s scathing sass.
“This place is genuinely gorgeous,” I said at one point, gazing around the mesmerising bay, taking in its unassuming natural beauty, “it’s gonna be difficult to ever drag myself away.”
“I know, it gets a hold of you doesn’t it?” Iddy replied, “You can always feel free to come and visit. Me and Seb have been coming out here on holiday since we were knee height. My parents bought the beach house we’re staying in for me for my 18th.”
Coralie almost spat out her beer.
“You own it?!” She half shouted.
“Yeah, that’s why I suggested coming here when Seb said about going away,” Iddy replied, completely unfazed by Coralie’s harsh unwavering gaze.
“Your 18th? I got a birthday card left on the kitchen table for mine. Some people get born with a plate,” she raised her eyebrows and took a swig from her bottle.
“A plate?” Iddy leant forwards in his seat, seeming more amused than anything, a half smile on his face.
“Yeah a plate, ready to have everything handed on it for them.”
Iddy laughed and sat back in his seat.
“Nah I am lucky Cor I’m not gonna deny it, I’ve had a blessed life. But I work hard too and I appreciate everything I get,” he said simply.
Coralie shrugged without reply, her expression telling me that this was purely because she had no idea what to say. Instead she began chugging the remains of her drink.
Seb and I looked at each other and smiled discreetly, both of us equally as shocked that someone had finally rendered Coralie speechless.

Later that night we’d eaten our fill of Iddy’s admittedly wonderful hotdogs and watched the sunset in awed silence. The BBQ had been turned into a little bonfire, its red, yellow and orange flames flickering away against the midnight blue background, radiating a comforting heat towards us. Seb stretched his legs out in front of him and nestled me in closer.
“So girls, are you ok with Iddy being our tour guide over the next few days?” He said filling the silence we’d fallen into. His words struck me suddenly. The next few days. God knows I hadn’t been planning on staying for longer than a day, but everything was going so perfectly for once that I couldn’t help myself and gave into the pull, vowing to stay for no longer than three or four days. Maybe five.
“He knows this place better than anyone after all,” Seb continued. Ok, just tell them that’s cool but you can’t stay for too long, I grounded my thoughts, trying to drag myself away from the images of non-stop surfing and beaches and beers and BBQs.
“Yes! I want to see every place I’ve heard about,” I said out loud, instantly betraying myself and not even feeling slightly bad, “this place has got a lot to live up to considering the stories I’ve heard again and again and again from Seb.”
“Alright mate,” Seb laughed, nudging me.
Iddy chuckled, “I’ll be honoured to show you around this infamous place then,” he smirked.
“Well to be honest it depends what Iddy has in mind,” Coralie spoke up suddenly, flicking her legs over the arm of her lounger, clearly still attempting to antagonise the first un-atagonisable person she’d ever met.
“Oh I’ve got lots of wonderful ideas, don’t worry Cor,” Sim said not biting at her bait at all, “I wanna take you guys cliff diving, we can take a few hikes, to some of the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen I might add, we can go surfing, take a few boats rides, oh and we have to go to Porthgain Harbour. They have this annual moonlight party and all the pubs in the town join in, its amazing.”

Coralie acted as if she’d barely been paying any attention, clearly trying her hardest to keep her cool around this person who she couldn’t shake out of his own cool. I was pretty sure she’d never had trouble getting a rise out of anyone before, especially when she was trying so hard to do just that. This was obviously a strange experience for her. In response she merely shrugged, something I noticed she’d been doing a lot of around Iddy. It was amusing to watch the humbling effect he had on her.
“Sounds pretty decent I guess.”
“Shut up Cor, sounds great Id,” I flashed a loaded smile in Iddy’s direction, which he returned with a wink, clearly in knowledge of the fact that he was having an effect on Cor. Cor merely did her favourite activity of scoffing.
“Don’t forget the seaside festival over at Newgale,” Sim joined the conversation, from his position hunched over the fire caveman-like.
 “You guys are gonna love it. They set up this big stage on a hill and there’s hundreds of tents and they deck the whole place out in fairy lights and they get these really chill music acts and food and jewellery stalls and when it gets dark they make this huge bonfire and everyone crowds arounds it and we all get wasted. It’s beautiful.”
Iddy laughed, “yeah we’ll check that out too. It’s on the 25th of August isn’t it? I’m sure the girls will still be here by then, right?” He turned to me but Cor replied in the friendliest tone she’d used that night.
“Course! I’m well up for that. Sounds like my type of thing. Right RiRi?”
“Hope so!” I smiled back. I was buzzing with excitement for the next few days despite every bone in my body trying not to be. But the good food and the good company had taken hold of me.

Soon the fire began to go out and the cold crept in despite the layers of blankets we’d wrapped around ourselves. We left the glowing embers of the fire to go out by themselves and hiked back up the grassy slope to the houses. I said goodnight to Coralie outside our house, reluctant to leave the warmth of the cocoon Seb and I had created out of our bodies and a half a dozen blankets.
Inside Iddy’s we said goodnight to the others, who’d settled down to watch TV and continue drinking. I snuggled straight into Seb’s bed, its warmth overwhelming me, almost sending me straight to sleep.
“That was a bit weird wasn’t it?” Seb’s voice broke through my sleepy haze. He crawled into bed next to me, his cold limbs pressing up against my recently warmed up ones, making me squeal uncomfortably and send a slap towards his arm.
He laughed and to my deepest annoyance, pressed his cold cheek against my back.
“Just warming myself up,” he chirped.
“Cruel,” I groaned, too tired to put up any further fight. I turned over to face him.
“What was weird anyway? Like the whole thing? Cor and Iddy clashed a bit didn’t they? Did you see her face the whole night? Like a slapped arse,” I giggled.
“Yeah I think she’s finally met her match hasn’t she. But no I meant Coralie being so up for that festival, I assumed she wouldn’t want to do anything that day.”
“What do you mean that day? Cor loves stuff like that, little festivals that make her feel like she’s back in the 70s.”
“Yeah I know that. Nah what I meant was the actual date, the 25th of August. Isn’t that the anniversary? You know with her dad?”
As he spoke my heart sunk into my stomach and all at once I felt like vomiting as everything finally fell into place, made sense. And I couldn’t believe that the whole thing had taken me this long to work out.

                                                                       ***

Cor was the youngest of a big family, two sisters, three brothers. She found perverse enjoyment in often announcing that her entire being had been an accident for her parents who, with five teenaged children at the time of her conception, had assumed that they were almost out of the woods parenting wise. By the time Cor turned twelve the others were all grown up, nearing their 30s even and her parents were in their late 40s.
Cor’s mother had begun to focus on her job, feeling as though her career as a mother had been satisfactory enough, five kids grown up, packed up and tucked away in their own little worlds. She was ready to move on with life. Cor’s dad of course was a writer but work was slowing down, writer’s block taking a forceful hold of him and he wasn’t finding it easy to move on with life without his kids’ constant badgering. Since six had become one he’d found their big house cold and empty, which is probably why he was always happy to chat with Cor, Seb and me whenever we visited. He’d always been a house-dad and many would say it was as though he’d been born for the job, effortlessly tackling tantrums, tickles, sickness and school. As much as I loved my dad, Michael Jenkins had always seemed to be the epitome of the perfect father in my eyes. Throughout my childhood he was always cheerful and smiling, not a harsh word or shout escaping from his mouth. As she got older and more cynical Cor claimed that her dad was the way he was because his own dad had never uttered a word that wasn’t shouted or an action that wasn’t a punishment of some kind. I mostly ignored Cor though, still idolising this kind and gentle man and even if she tried to deny it, I knew that she did too.

He’d been in the middle of writing a book the summer that we were fourteen, or at least trying to. But his writer’s block was persistent and he spent all of his time holed up in the Jenkins’ big clean house, pacing from room to room muttering and wringing his hands. It was horrible to see him that way and some days I could barely glance at his pale, gaunt features as he walked past us all muttering something ineligible. He was so stressed, so fidgety, the energy that he was emitting so negative that it made me sad to be in the same room as him. It was worse for Cor and her mum, the latter of the two limiting her appearance in the house, getting down to once a week by the end of the summer.

One day Cor, Seb and I flitted into Cor’s house after a day spent down by the river, splashing and skipping stones, planning elaborate and unrealistic heists to take beer from the older kids. It had been a long hot summer, the sort when the sun shone every day, each individual day melting into one sweltering mass. And so we’d enjoyed our last day of freedom together before school started again, life becoming a blur of uniforms and pens and rain, laughing and joking basking in the euphoria of the sunshine. We’d all swanned into Coralie’s, our cheeks rosy and sun-kissed, our spirits high when we’d bumped into Mr Jenkins in the kitchen. He’d just walked in from his study wearing the same clothes he’s been wearing the last time we’d seen him a few days ago. His hair was greasy and matted, his eyes heavily bagged, his face expressionless in a way that made me sad. We hadn’t had one of our ‘cuppa and a chat’ times for the entirety of the summer, maybe even a little longer than that, Mr Jenkins always busy or quiet or not really there. It hadn’t been a tremendously long time but somehow those talks still felt like a lifetime ago.
“Your brothers and sisters are too busy,” he said somewhat monotonously when all went quiet, looking at him as he looked at us.
“What?” Coralie replied, her usual perkiness subdued instantly at the sight of her father.
“Your brothers and sisters. All five of them. All too busy to come and visit. All summer. Apparently.”
“Maybe they are dad,” Coralie said quietly, the uncertainty of her father clear in her voice, making her sound little and vulnerable. Mr Jenkins had laughed but not in his usual jolly way.
“Maybe they’re your mother’s type of busy. Avoiding anything real,” he said before kneeling down slightly until he was level with us all, Seb becoming slightly taller than him.
“You three. You’re good kids. But life isn’t good. Life eats away at you until all the good is gone. And then what is life without all the good? It’s like the autumn after a beautiful summer. Heart-breaking.” He said every word staring unwaveringly at Cor. Then he’d gotten up and walked away.

I’d left Coralie’s house that night not able to shift the anxious thoughts I was having about Cor’s dad. I couldn’t stop thinking about how what Mr Jenkins had said was wrong, because autumn was just as beautiful as summer, just in a different way. It was fresher and more colourful and it washed over you like a refreshing shower after a long warm day. I promised myself that the next time I saw Mr Jenkins I would say all that to him, remind him of autumn’s beauty. But I never got the chance to speak to him again. No one did. Because Mr Jenkins just couldn’t face watching the end of another summer pass by and so he left earth before any of the leaves had a chance to float down from their trees, red, yellow and brown.

To begin with Coralie had coped with it the same way any fourteen year old probably would have, heartbreak, tears, confusion. And I’d been there beside her every step of the way, knowing that I needed to step up, knowing that as much as Mr Jenkins had meant to me, he’d meant two hundred times as much to Cor. I’d held her hand and wiped her tears and I’d begun looking after her, the same way I had done ever since.
Then out of the blue a few months later Coralie had turned to me and said, “he’s happy now isn’t he?” She’d smiled at me, wiped her tears away and that had been the last time we’d ever really spoken about it. It wasn’t as if we ignored it exactly, it was just an unspoken agreement that we didn’t need to talk about it, feeling that to do so would be pointless. It probably wasn’t the perfect way to deal with what had happened but we were kids and we didn’t know what else we could do and besides there was no perfect way to deal with it.

So it wasn’t that I’d forgotten about it, there was no way I ever could. But the date just wasn’t something that I made a conscious effort to remember and I’d thought that it was the same for Coralie. As I lay in bed, Seb pressed against me breathing heavily with sleep, I remembered everything about Mr Jenkins from the time I met him to the time he floated away, my heart thudding in my chest. His erratic behaviour, the powerful statements he started making, the expressionless dazes he would often drift into. In my mind I set images of him and Coralie side by side like a movie comparison and I cringed at what I was realising. The way she was acting was all too familiar and as summer was coming to an end an awful thought forced its way into my mind, clouding over the images of Cor and her dad that I was replaying, replacing these images with the thought of Cor floating away like a leaf, just like Michael Jenkins had.

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