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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6. Chapter 6.

“Are you girls sure you want to do this? I mean we’re driving quite far, you’re not gonna chicken out when we get there and demand to be taken home are you?” Seb ribbed from his position behind the steering wheel of his car. He was smiling playfully, one arm draped casually out of the car window.
“What you mean because we’re girls? Bit sexist isn’t it Sebby?” I replied from the passenger seat, pulling my feet up to rest on the dashboard as I spoke, knowing how much it annoyed him.
He took his hand off the steering wheel and swatted at my feet.
“Keep that up and I’ll throw you off the cliff before you have the chance to jump. And actually I was talking to Iddy and Sim.”

“Number one, keep your hands on the wheel you tool, my dangerous driving is the only shit driving that I can tolerate and number two saying that makes it more sexist,” Coralie retorted. She was sitting in the back, dwarfed in between the large masses that were Iddy and Sim. At a glance in my overhead mirror she looked like a sulky little girl, pouting with her arms crossed across her chest. I noted, not for the first time that day that she was in a very argumentative mood, this mood for some reason darkening even further when Sim had suggested that we go cliff diving. Consequentially I’d already broken the promise to myself that I wouldn’t worry about her multiple times.
Seb sighed, mock frustrated and slowed the car down to a crawl, both of his hands placed firmly on the wheel.
“Better?” he glanced at Cor in the rear view mirror and laughed at her scowl.
“Dick,” she murmured, smiling slightly despite herself.

“Well I for one am worried about my bikini top coming off when I jump in,” Sim said sounding genuinely distressed, a look of anguish painted on his face.
“Well I did tell you to bring a wetsuit,” Iddy joined in, “I suppose you’ll just have to live and learn.”
“That’s not actually going to happen is it?” Coralie groaned, “because you guys know I don’t have a wetsuit. RiRi only has one because she’s spoilt and her stupid boyfriend bought her one as a makeup present.”
“It wasn’t a makeup present actually, its mine from a few years ago that Seb’s kept for me. And for that spoilt gibe I hope your boobs fly out and hit you in the face,” I replied pleasantly enough despite her clear attempts to antagonise. I was desperate to lighten her stormy mood, bad thoughts trying to escape the boxes I’d tried to hastily stuff them into after my revelation the night before, pushing and pushing.
“And for the stupid boyfriend comment I hope it really stings,” Seb chirped, his hand tapping at the steering wheel cheerfully.
“You guys are the worst,” she sniffed, glaring at us both in the rear view mirror.

The Blue Lagoon, Abereiddi being its less enchanting name was in fact green, or at least a deep shade of turquoise. The little lagoon was nestled in a cove of high cliffs that were speckled with wild flowers, yellow and orange. We walked from a car park along a short coastal path and a rickety little bridge, the splashing waves beneath our feet the whole time. We walked until we reached a vantage point from which we could see the entire breached quarry and the ruins of modest cottages, that sat upon the clifftop to the other side of the lagoon. We scrambled down to the edge of the glistening water, slate in shades of grey and lilac slipping beneath our feet. There were a few children skipping chunks of slate across the surface of the silky water and a family having a picnic sat huddled together on the large rocks that framed the water.

Following the lead of the boys we slid into the moderately chilly water and swam across to a jumble of exposed rocks that jutted out where the cliff side had fallen away. We all pulled ourselves out of the water and onto the uncomfortable terrain, wincing as our bare feet clambered against the exposed surface. There were a few children propelling themselves from the rocks, landing in the water with a squeal that put some of my fears to rest. Fears which instantly remerged as I saw where Iddy was heading. The ruins of the old quarry wall were weathered and seemed creaky to me somehow, battered by the sea. We pulled ourselves up to its highest point and settled there on a spattering of briny grass. I walked to the edge of the stone and looked down, the calm glittering water making my feet tingle and my heart drop into my stomach.

“Shit. I mean I know you were joking earlier but this is high.”
“It’s beautiful,” Coralie said in a voice that didn’t sound like her own, staring down, her gaze unwavering. Suddenly this didn’t feel like a good idea at all. I searched for Seb’s hand and he gave it a squeeze before wrapping his arms around me from behind and resting his chin on the top of my head.
“You know you’ll regret it if you don’t do it Ri,” he said after a few seconds of drinking in the surroundings, “plus we both know if we all taunt you enough, you’ll do it just to prove us wrong.”
“Yeah that’s true.”
“I’ll attach myself to you and throw us both in if you don’t cooperate,” Coralie piped up, her tune having suddenly changed. Irritatingly. It was as if she enjoyed getting me all worked up over nothing She was dripping in her bikini, standing dangerously close to the edge, her toes meeting thin air.
“Sounds safe,” I scoffed.
“Stop wasting time drinking in the view,” Iddy appeared in front of us, “Let’s go! I think it’ll make sense for the guys to go first. Make sure there’s no rogue rocks that you might impale yourselves on. And because we’ve done it before. And just to be a little bit sexist,” he playfully nudged Cor who thankfully had moved away from the edge.
“Oh thank you men for making sure us delicate little women don’t injure ourselves,” she nudged back grinning.
I grimaced, their hideously obvious flirting plus the use of the words injure and impale doing little to sooth my shaken nerves.
“But ok, you guys go first if you need to. Just to warn you though if you don’t move out of the way fast enough I will jump straight onto you with no remorse,” she grinned.

“Oh man, if we work this out properly it can be like that scene from Dirty Dancing when they’re practicing the lift in the river!” Sim exclaimed, brushing his mass of dark hair away from his face, seemingly undisturbed by the obligatory mocking he’d just set himself up for, for knowing the plot of Dirty Dancing so intimately.
“Yeah except with two broken arms,” Seb laughed, “But before we discuss the idea any further, shall we talk about why you’ve been watching Dirty Dancing?”
“Uh, I have two sisters,” Sim rolled his eyes as if this was obvious.
“So you forced them to watch it with you did you? Poor girls,” Seb prodded, which instantly resulted in a gentle yet, in my opinion, high inappropriate bought of play fighting, cliff-top style. I walked away from them unable to watch as they got closer and closer to the edge, finding it hard to repress my urge to scream at them scared mother style. Instead I walked over to where Coralie was sitting at the cliff’s edge. Despite every bone in my body protesting, I slumped down next to her.

I searched for something to say, knowing that she was in the type of mood that meant one wrong word and she’d flip on me. Really there were so many things that I wanted to bring up to her, ask her about. I needed to straighten up my thoughts and I felt like I couldn’t do that until I found out whether I was just imagining the way she was acting or whether there really was something going on. But I knew that this wasn’t the right place or time and for the time being felt like I needed to be gentle with her, that she was fragile and I needed to handle her with care.

“It’s hard to imagine that this time in a few weeks I’m going to be sat in a lecture hall instead of on top of a beautiful cliff top in West Wales,” I finally decided to settle on.
“Why are you constantly thinking about uni?” Cor replied without looking at me, her gaze firmly on the water below us.
“Girls, follow our lead then yeah? But try your best not to land on us, as tempting as it might be.” Iddy half shouted over to us from where he, Seb and Sim stood preparing to jump, interrupting my ruffled answer.
“Ok. We’ve got a swell view from here if you do end up impaling yourself too,” Coralie chirped.
We watched as Iddy took a running jump and exploded off the edge of the cliff, limbs flailing madly.
“Ahh, this is so cool!” Cor said gleefully as Iddy disappeared under the greeny-blue water, ripples peeling across the surface.
“Uh huh,” I brushed her comment aside, still slightly seething from her apprehension to me mentioning uni, “the reason I’m constantly talking about uni Cor is because it’s a big deal to me. Both of my parents have text me this morning reminding me that I have stuff to sort out. I can’t run away from it forever, like you’d clearly have me do if it was your choice.”
Coralie rolled her eyes as I spoke, pushing me to my anger threshold.
“Why do you even care about it though Ri? Because your parents tell you that you should?”
I laughed a wholly sarcastic laugh.
“This is not about my parents! It’s about me. I don’t understand why it bugs you so much that I think my future is something to care about.” I snapped without meaning to, the obstinate expression on Cor’s face causing it. Why did Cor have to question everything in her condescending way? Why was she constantly trying to create arguments from the simplest things I would say? Why did I put up with it? I at least knew the answer to that question.
We sat in silence for a moment watching as Seb, ever the show off, took a running jump and propelled his body into a somersault, causing my stomach to contract. It didn’t relax until he hit the water with a splash and emerged grinning.

A cool breeze swept our hair away from our faces and a single cloud moved to cover the sun.
“Your future,” Coralie murmured, her tone somewhat mocking and sad all at once, “you say that as if you have any choice in what your future is.”
“What, no of course I do-”
“No, you don’t. Your life if literally already set out for you, you know? You’re going to go to uni, get a job, a house, a husband, a few kids and die. Don’t you think it sucks, working your arse off for years on end and the only reward you get at the end is to die?” Coralie gave a curt laugh, that I’d heard before from someone else, the sound chilling me to the bones, “It’s going to be so boring Ri. I can’t stand the idea of just existing. I mean I want to actually live while I have the chance. Do something extraordinary. After that, who cares what happens.” She stood up as she spoke, inching so close to the edge that I almost shouted for her to step back out of instinct. I felt like an anxious mother once again. Except that my hypothetical child was scaring me in a way that was different to just carelessly wandering too near the edge.

“Extraordinary? Cor, be real for a second, what does extraordinary even mean? It’s something ridiculous, unreachable.”
She laughed bitterly, swaying too close again.
“No I’m serious Cor. And be careful would you? I’m just saying you shouldn’t always be searching for something better.”
“And why’s that?” Coralie said, her tone slightly mocking as if she didn’t actually expect me to reply. All I could think however, was that we’d both known someone else who was always looking for something better and when he hadn’t found that, he couldn’t handle it. I started to panic, searching for the right thing to say, knowing that I could so easily say something to make it worse.
“I just mean why can’t you just be satisfied? This is life, this is it. And there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s dangerous to always be looking for something bigger or better,” I paused, “I mean, don’t you think that doing anything extraordinary is unrealistic because, what then? Its over and you have to go back to normal life and nothing will ever seem as good again.” I paused again and began to wonder whether I was now speaking for Cor’s benefit or my own but I couldn’t tell anymore, my thoughts jumbled and sticky and confusing.
“I mean, of course life would seem boring then, unsatisfactory and you’d spend all your time trying to experience something that would live up to it until you finally gave up and decided to become a crazy old cat lady recluse or something,” as I finished speaking I tried to turn what I’d been saying into a joke, realising that I’d hit one of my own nerves and gone off on a tangent and that what I was saying actually incredibly unhelpful.

Out of the corner of my eye Sim, not one to be outdone, rushed forward into a somersault of his own.
In trying to argue against Cor’s ridiculousness I’d officially freaked myself out, my little out-of-the-blue rant hitting me hard as I realised that I actually believed what I was saying, and suddenly the thought scared me. I knew how melodramatic it had all sounded but I couldn’t help but believe it really. What was there to look forward to once you’d lived through the very best experience you ever would?
I glanced at Cor, momentarily forgetting where I was. I swiped the tears away from my eyes as discretely as I could, taken aback at how emotional I suddenly felt. Maybe it was me who was mad after all, maybe it was me who couldn’t handle anything. Cor’s back was to me as she posed at the edge of the cliff. She turned to look at me, her face expressionless.
“Well maybe you’re right. And isn’t that just fucking depressing?” And with that she gracefully threw her body into the air, disappearing from sight in the blink of an eye.

A feeling of desperation clenched at my chest and I scrambled to my feet to watch her hit the water. No, it wasn’t just me. I couldn’t do that to myself, there was something going on and everyone else could think I was being ridiculous and dramatic they really could, but I had my reasons, ones that they would never know about. Cor was my family. She was the sister I’d always wanted and had never gotten. Anyone who’d grown up with brothers or sisters would understand that when it comes to siblings, loving and liking isn’t always connected, but at the end of the day, you never, ever let anything happen to them. I’d been trying to help but I couldn’t stop saying the wrong things. And I’d spent so much time being angry at her that I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d said something nice to her, so consumed with my own dramas and how I was feeling.

I peered down at the shimmering pool.
“Come on scardy panty!” Seb bellowed from his position below, only his head visible above the water, bobbing around in the sparkling blue canvas. The others began calling then and my fear was momentarily overwhelmed by the need to join them, feeling eerily detached from them where I stood alone on the top of the deserted and unnaturally quiet clifftop, craving their chatter and noise and colour. And so I jumped and everything else going on in my mind went blank as if I left it back on the clifftop as I flew through the air. All I could feel was the wind rushing through my hair, through my fingertips, over every surface of my body. My heart was in my stomach but it wasn’t an unpleasant feeling and I found myself screeching with excitement at the freeness of the moment. I met the water like an old friend, my body moulding into its refreshing caress and I experienced a second of pure serenity before my body found its way to the surface of the water, the silence of the ocean soothing and beautiful, tranquil. And then I surfaced and real life crashed around me in the form of cheers and laughter, the sound of water splashing against rocks and against people.

I scraped my hair away from my face, the water away from my eyes, opening them to find Seb in front of me. I wrapped my arms around his neck, the feeling of exhilaration still consuming my body.
“That was amazing!” I gasped, out of breath from the struggle to the surface, “let’s do it again!”
“Let’s find a taller cliff,” Sim shouted, already making his way to shore.
“You up for it?” Seb laughed, turning to me. I was still clinging to his neck, my pathetic legs, not used to so much exercise becoming tired from treading water.
“Definitely,” I replied, glancing in Cor’s direction to make sure she looked up for joining us. She looked radiant, her hair slightly dishevelled and wet, a glowing smile plastered across her face as she and Iddy had a playful dispute, over who should have a drink of water first from the bottle we’d left on the shore. She was totally calm again, her usual charming self. Even though I was pretty sure I wasn’t going mad, I started hoping that I was. Because if I wasn’t mad then something bad was happening and I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to face it.

                                                                                 ***

We made it back to the car in time to catch the sunset and Seb drove along the coastal road to find a nice spot to watch it from. We sat at the front of the car, Cor and I perched on the bonnet, the boys sprawled on the dewy grass, to watch the embers of sunlight illuminate the sky and dance across the ocean. The breeze was gentle and brought with it the echoes of the sea and the chirping of crickets. We’d dried off with towels in a public bathroom but our hair was still damp and my skin felt tingly and tight from the saltwater. Coralie was plaiting a little section of my hair, gently running the matted waves through her fingers, our spat from earlier seemingly forgotten.

“You’re a good friend, for doing all this, you do know that right? I’m sorry for being so ungrateful to begin with,” I said quietly without turning around to look at her. I knew that if I did I would start to cry. Something had changed within me on the plummet from that clifftop and I could no longer find it within myself to be irritated by her at all, even if she did deserve my irritation. All I could feel for her was love, and shamefully pity. I knew she’d hate it if she knew that I felt pity for her.
“Takes one to know one,” she whispered back, before letting my hair drop and falling forward to gently lean against my back.
“And you know I was wrong earlier right? About everything I said on the clifftop? I was scared and I was babbling like a chicken, you know? But I mean what we did, that was sort of extraordinary wasn’t it? This whole place is, look at it, it’s beautiful, it makes me thankful for everything that’s lead me here to this moment. Everything. So I’m sorry for saying all that depressing stuff, it was stupid of me.” I was talking quietly so that the boys couldn’t hear me, not wanting to cause an atmosphere. In all fairness however, they were having a boisterous conversation about whether it would be cool if dolphins could have offspring with humans, so the likeliness of them paying any attention to me and Cor was pretty low anyway. It struck me as slightly mad how different two conversations could be.
Coralie was silent for a moment before answering, her face still pressed gently into my shoulder.
“I never said you were wrong,” she murmured, “just that I wish you weren’t. But you are right, reality isn’t that great after all.”
I opened my mouth to tell her again how wrong I was, but I couldn’t trust myself not to saying anything else that would add fuel to her fire. All I’d done that day it seemed, was confirm what she’d been thinking all along. I was tongue tied by a feeling of dread, of summers’ ends and gloomy autumns without any hint of Coralie swimming around in my mind, of distressed faces, unwashed hair. A tree with bare branches, the leaves nowhere to be seen.
 

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