A draft of what I hope is to be my best story yet, I've just about figured out the plot and have published this so that I can get a few opinions on it.


1. 1

I crouch down, my forearms resting on my thighs.  My battered tan trousers have a small tear on their right leg, but they're the warmest legwear that I own.  In the fading sunlight, my clothes look dark grey, and my usually pale skin a bright orange colour, like someone who overuses fake tan.  The sea wind whips my long, light brown hair into my pale face, yet I am still.  Its innocent salty smell doesn't decieve me; it still smells like death.  I am waiting for something, but I'm not sure what.  I have been waiting for an hour.  What am I waiting for?  Me to be home?  My parents and grandparents to come back?  My younger brother?  I want all of those things, but I won't get them, any of them.  Six years ago, when I was 10, my parents and my best friend, Molly, died in the falling of the cliff on which was our home...

It is a sunny day, a 'scorcher' in my dad's opinion.  I am sat on the living room carpet, running my fingers through the deep pile, feeling its familiar soft comfort for the millionth time.  My best friend Molly and I are preparing our skipping ropes, hula hoops and other assorted toys to go outside into the vast garden and play with.  Mum and dad are in the kitchen, making lunch for the family.  I have been excused from helping out on the occasion so that I can play with Molly.  My little brother, Thomas, is on the sofa behind me, fast asleep.  I am just standing up, favourite teddy bear in hand, alongside Molly, when we see a huge wave through the far side of the conservatory, which is adjoining to the living room.  It hits the cliff with a colossal amount of force.  The gentle whisper of the waves has just become an agonised scream.  The sunny day has suddenly dissolved into a livid storm; the wind is howling and dark clouds swirl, threatening to unleash hundreds of rain-bullets which will open a relam of disaster onto our house, ricocheting off the roofs and walls.  More waves are hitting the cliff.  Thomas is screaming and crying at once.  The cliff is shaking, as if the waves were fists and it has just been punched... To the ground.  The cliff is falling.  We run and I grab Thomas on the way out, carrying him over my shoulder.  Mum and dad are running too.  I am in front.  I force the stiff, battered front door open and we are running inland as fast as it is possible for us to run.  The sea wind stings my eyes and I can't see, I just run.  My muscles ache but I can't stop, not now.  Thomas is weighing me down, forcing me to slow.  Finally, I stop and turn around, wiping my eyes so that I can see, just in time to see Molly, my mum and my dad fall to their watery deaths.

at the same time?  I can't.  I have not yet gathered the courage to go to that beach, where the rubble of my house washed away.  Old house.  Oh, old house, new house, what difference does it make?  A lot to me.

What am I waiting for?

After Molly and my parents' deaths I went with Thomas to live on my grandparents' ranch, which is a couple of miles inland from where our house used to be, with their two horses.  Last year they died of old age, first my grandmother, then my grandfather only two months later.  I can still hardly bear to look at the horses nor sell them for the haunting memories which they possess, so I hired two full-time grooms with some of the money that my grandparents left me in their will (They left most of their money, some of which went to Thomas, and the ranch).  There's a lot of it; enough to keep me going for more than a few years.  After that, Thomas was taken away from me to the local orphanage, but I was pronounced fit to live on the ranch by myself, as long as I had care from Miss ***INSERT***, my neighbour.  It is his 6th birthday today.  I don't even see him any more.  I used to get regular visits to see him, but eventually even the orphanage stopped replying to my letters.  Thomas.  The name rolls around my head like the waves rolling in and out of the beach.  He comes in and back out of me life, but I can never quite reach him from high up on the both metaphorical and physical cliff on which I'm sat.

Miss ***INSERT*** was 29 when Thomas left, and had just finished her degrees in teaching and childcare.  She agreed to live in the ranch with me and homeschool me to save me from all the stupid questions fired at me from every angle and the perpetual bullying that comes with being a girl with no family.  She stayed with me for about a month, while the checks from social services were more regular, then, respecting my privacy, moved back into her own house (Which she was supposedly renting out), moving in again only when the scheduled checks were.  She does come to visit me, of course, usually twice a day (Not including her teaching me, which isn't as much as I'd get in school, but it involves roughly the same amount of learning, what without the distractions and changing teachers every hour), or three times on weekeds.  I like her.  She is a good teacher and lives on benefits just to try and help me.  She is just like mum, but I could never get that close to her.  I don't know what it is.  Maybe it's that she's not related, that I've not known her for as long as my mum, or maybe... Just maybe I wouldn't want to lose someone special to me again.  She knows that I come to the cliffs, and began to trust me to come alone after about a month or so.  She usually come to pick me up about...

Now.  She's behind me, I can feel warmth radiating from that direction.  I usually hear her, but today the sound  her plimsoles on the cliff was hidden under that of the wind.

"Hi" she says, in her sweet, melodic tone that is so much like what my mother's used to be.

I turn around and look at her.  Her long, blonde hair is blowing over her angelic face and she is hugging the red trench coat that she's wearing to her body, in hope of finding some warmth.

I blink, and she replies by saying "Come on, then.  Aren't you cold?  You aren't even wearing a coat."

As I stand up, she sets off to her car, and I follow her.

I don't talk, ever.  I used to, but when my parents and Molly died I spoke less, and when my grandparents died I lost the will to speak at all, so every time someone says my name, Elsie, or 'Hello there.' I just stare blankly or blink until they go away.  People have different ways of dealing with losing family.  Some people change their diets, some become stressed, others become talkative and I, I don't speak at all.  What is there to talk about?  I'm sick of all the soppy comments like 'Don't worry, they'll always be with you from heaven' or 'What are you so down about?' or even 'Everything's going to be fine', because really, it's not.  Eventually, I am just going to run out of money and starve to death, or something like that, however in the meantime I'm just going to get on with living.

I am sixteen.

I should be going out to school and meeting friends.

I never leave the house except to visit my cliff, or my parents' empty graves or Molly and grandparents' ones.

I am alone.

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