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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7. Chapter 7.

That night was a sleepless one, the type I’d had before, stressing over exams, over Seb. Those nights seemed made up now, far away and fuzzy. I turned over in bed to face Seb and shuffled myself closer until our noses were almost touching. It was hard to believe that there had ever been any more distance between us. I’d convinced Seb to come and stay at our beach house, not wanting to leave Cor alone again. He’d given in with very little resistance and his eyes had drifted close as soon as his head hit the pillow, exhausted from the fresh sea air and the eventful day. I felt the same way, my body aching, worn out and slightly tender from being thrown around by the powerful sea, but humming pleasantly with the imprints of the memory of the activities.

But as perfectly as my sore body moulded into the soft memory-foam mattress, as comfortable as I was with my legs intertwined with Seb’s, and as contenting as the dark room was, humming with the sounds of the distant waves and Seb’s slow breathing, my mind still refused to let me sleep. It was attacking itself, spewing out thought after thought, arguing with itself, even having a joke with itself now and then, almost making me laugh out loud. After three hours of internal torture I gave up. I carefully detached myself from Seb, the feather quilt that was covering us rustling as I pushed it away, the sound so comforting yet frustrating. It was the sound that accompanied sleep in my mind and I wasn’t getting any. I pulled on a hoodie that had been discarded on the bedroom floor, not sure if it was mine or Seb’s, before slipping into the living room.

The wooden floor was cold against my feet and I flinched as I felt it, trying to stay silent. I sat at the kitchen table for a while, trying to collect my thoughts. Then I made myself a hot chocolate, all my fingers and toes clenched in anticipation of accidently waking someone. I took the steaming mug back into the living room with me and sat on one of the soft plush chairs that was faced in the direction of the ocean. It was pitch black out, the moon tucked cosily behind a blanket of clouds. I sipped my hot chocolate and curled my feet beneath me. Externally everything was quiet, the gentle ticking of the nearby clock providing the only proof that tine was moving along. Meanwhile inside my head, my thoughts exploded, busy and noisy and I chewed on my bottom lip, tapped my fingernails against my mug and twirled strands of my hair around my finger as I tried to put some order to them.
My mind took me back to remember things that I really didn’t want to remember. Back to a time that explained why I was how I was with Cor, why I was so paranoid, so protective.

The year we turned sixteen, Cor made some new friends at a youth club that our school had sent her to, in an attempt to curb her self-destructive behaviour, which in fact had quite the opposite effect and led her towards drugs. It was never anything too hard, the weed I could handle because I didn’t really know anyone who hadn’t tried weed at our age. It was the LSD that threw me. Weekends for Cor turned into 48 hour, drug infused parties, weight dropped off her and her hair grew brittle, her eyes adjourned with black bags. She’d rock up at my house every Sunday night, texting me when she was around the back, shoes in hand, her bare feet cut and bruised and, maybe stupidly, I’d let in her in, to use the shower and force her to eat something before she went home and faced her mum. I’d beg her to stop as she hunched over a bowl of coco pops, her hair and skin pale, damp and gleaming from the purge of the weekend’s grime.

I’d thought about cutting ties with her back then, I really had, seeing her like that was making me sick to my stomach. But she’d continuously reassure me that she was fine, she was just enjoying being a teenager. And then Monday morning would come and just as she’d claimed, she’d be completely back to normal, lighting up every room she went into, dragging me along behind her like I was the sparkly tail to her shooting star.
And I just couldn’t leave her. She was my family and we’d been through way too much together for me to just abandon her. As young and naive as I‘d been back then, I’d recognised self-destructive behaviour when I’d seen it and I was convinced that I could stop it, that I could save her.

At the time a memory had kept resurfacing in my head, that as meaningless as it had seemed when it had actually happened, since Mr Jenkins death, had started to mean the world to me. It had been on one of the trips that Mr Jenkins had taken us on when we were pretty little, about nine or ten. He’d taken us to Porthcawl beach and had insisted that Cor and I were old enough to go in and swim by ourselves whilst he set up camp on the shore and wrote.
“But mummy said you need to come in with us, the sea is dangerous and I’m not the best swimmer,” Cor had exclaimed, hands on hips as she’d watched her dad take one of his leather-bound notebooks out of his bag.
“Don’t be silly the sea is calm today and I’m watching from here. And from what I remember, RiRi is a brilliant swimmer. She’ll look after you, won’t you Ri?”
I’d nodded enthusiastically, brimming with pride.
“You girls will always look after each other, I know that,” he’d said still smiling down at me, before giving us one more nudge in the direction of the water. I knew it had probably been such an off-the-cuff thing for him to say at the time with no weight behind it at all, but since he’d been gone it was like I couldn’t get it out of my head, the way his eyes hadn’t left mine the whole time he’d spoken. He’d unknowingly placed a very unrealistic weight on the shoulders of a child and I’d willingly carried it for the rest of my life.

But then the darkest night happened. It had been late one Friday night and shamefully it was a rare, yet lucky occurrence that I’d stayed up so late. I only had because my parents were away for the weekend; at a friend’s wedding which they’d had multiple arguments over whether they should actually bother going to and I had been waiting for Seb to finish his shift at the pub where he worked as a waiter on weekends and come over. I’d been lying in bed with my earphones in, writing in my favourite fabric covered notebook, trying to block out the real world and throw myself into another one, attempting to ignore my phone that was vibrating against my leg, telling myself that it was probably Seb letting me know that he was finished and on his way. But it kept vibrating, again and again until I’d realised that something was wrong and my fictional world exploded into tiny shards of glass, that flew straight for my jugular.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t answered the call and the thought alone is enough to paralyse me with fear. I sat up frantically, my whole body on high alert, being prodded by the broken glass, knowing that something really wasn’t right,

“Back garden. Please.” Cor’s voice was slurred and fragmented when I had finally answered her call and without hesitation I’d flung myself down the stairs, fleeing to the patio doors that opened into the back garden. Cor had been lying close to the doors, curled up in the foetal position and shaking in the cold spring air. I’d cautiously reached out for her, having no idea what to do and hating myself for it, my heart beat so inconsistent that I was momentarily hit with the thought that I might be having a heart attack.
“Cor what’s happening?” I’d whispered frantically, my voice almost lost to the wind that was pushing its way through next door’s apple trees.
Hearing me, Cor lifted herself up weakly and I grabbed onto her arms, pulling her into me, the stench of booze and cigarettes that swam around her almost overwhelming.
“I took, s-something. Two somethings. A-and I don’t know what. I’ve drunk. So much and my stomach, it’s going to explode,” as she struggled to form the words I half dragged her inside, both of our legs wobbly and uncertain in the blinding darkness.

“I’m calling an ambulance,” I’d croaked out after seating her at a seat around the kitchen table, her head instantly thudding down on its wooden surface with a sickening thud.
“No!” her cry was anguished and broken but she managed to lift her head an inch or two to look at me with terrified eyes, “R-Ri you can’t, they’ll take me away, t-they won’t let me see you a-and I don’t want to live like that. Just, Just let me die.”
“Cor-”
“No. It was good enough for my dad and it will be good enough for me,” her whisper was gentle and eerie, her words turning me cold, every nerve and muscle in my body cramming up.
“Stop it!” I’d screeched out of nowhere, my voice piercing the darkness, fright and anger and adrenaline coursing through my body as I crashed towards her.
“You are not your dad and this world needs you, do you hear me?!”

I’d dragged her up, probably a  bit more roughly than what was necessary and used every morsel of energy that my body possessed to drag her into the downstairs bathroom. I’d placed her in front of the toilet, snatched her scaggy hair away from her fair and shoved a toothbrush right up into her gullet.
I’d tensed but held my ground as I’d watched her body convulse as she vomited violently into the toilet, over and over, not able to stop once she’d started.
I knew to this present day what a stupid move it had been not to call anyone, just to go with my initiative in the most risky way. But I was fiercely loyal to that stupid girl and I couldn’t let anyone take her away against her will, I just couldn’t. After what had seemed like hours of vomiting and litres of water consumed and bread eaten and at least three cold showers I wrapped Cor in a towel and slumped onto the bathroom floor with her in my arms. And she spoke, her voice gravelly and weak, about her father, about how much she missed him and that how anything that helped her forget for even a little bit seemed magical.

By the time Seb had arrived, finding us in the bath room his face pale and grim, he had agreed that Cor looked a healthy-ish colour and was a normal enough temperature for us not to call an ambulance. Instead we’d all moved into the living room, Cor curling up and falling asleep almost instantly in a big fat armchair, Seb and I taking turns all night to watch her, both of us tight lipped and anxious, gripping onto each other to keep ourselves stable. These days, the only reminder of Cor’s darkest period was her addiction to cigarettes, the scare of that night enough to put her off touching anything stronger ever again. For the next few months Seb and I had watched her around the clock for any kind of slip ups, under a pact to tell someone if she ever started to show signs of going back to that place again. But the months went by and her cheeks filled out again and her hair got its shine back, her eyes as alive and wild as ever. And life had gone on without any mention, the memory too difficult to want to discuss, making it something that we’d all found easy to ignore. Until now.

                                                                     ***

When the dark blue sky began to lighten into a strangely illuminated grey, marking the first signs of dawn, I got up from my perch and stretched, muscles stiff, head heavy. It had been an exhausting night of sorting and organising my thoughts, yet despite my lack of sleep I felt refreshed. Refreshed because I had finally come to a conclusion on what to do, my plan of action for Cor. It seemed slightly ridiculous if I thought about it too hard, so I tried to think of it simply. I was going to enjoy this holiday and I was going to ensure that Cor did too. I was going to rid her of any horrible ideas and if she wasn’t happy by the end of the trip, really, truly happy, not pretending for the sake of everyone else happy, I would take a year off uni and I would make sure that she got the help she needed. The help that I probably should have insisted she’d gotten when everything had gone wrong the first time. I was going to save her whatever it took, even if she didn’t want to be saved. I refused to let her leave me, it just wasn’t going to happen.

I walked over to my handbag that was perched on the kitchen table and took my phone out, promptly turning it off. I’d decided that it was time to just live in the moment, worry about the here and now and pushy texts from my parents weren’t going to do me any good. They’d just have to forgive me. I’d been the perfect child up until now after all. Feeling fresh minded and prepared to face everything to come I slid back into bed next to Seb, wrapping my cold legs around his and making him start slightly in his sleep. Payback complete, I rolled over and pulled myself into his still slightly snoring form. I’d told him a million times that he could sleep through a fire and he’s always denied it, yet I’d been gone all night and he hadn’t noticed and so I was inclined to think that I was right. I smiled to myself and let my eyes close, falling into my thoroughly anticipated sleep, my last thought being that I hoped no one else was planning to wake up before midday.

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