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(A short story of 4719 words)

Reaching You


by Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon

A story about friendship, loss and seemingly supernatural forces that may or may not be the product of a disturbed mind.

I came to in my own bed, as the August dawn was breaking. I sat up slowly, and next to me on the camping mat on the floor, was my best mate, Shell. The pain behind my eyes made me shrink from the light as I tried to remember the night before. We’d been on the beach, just the two of us. No wait, her brother, Ben, had been there as well. He’d been in a bad way. He’d lost his place on the ‘Back to Work’ scheme for turning up late three days in a row. That meant his benefits would stop. We’d gone out to the local dunes at Druridge Bay, with cans of Magners to try to cheer him up. And, if I’m honest, to keep an eye on him.
I stumbled out to the bathroom and heard my mum call,
‘Jo, I’m off to get the bus to Newcastle. Could you give Shell’s mum a call, she wants to know where Ben is. ‘Bye, love.’
The front door slammed shut. Ben. Where was he? I remembered his face twisted with gloom and booze as he’d told me and Shell to get lost and go home. He wanted to be on his own. At the time I’d thought, ‘Sod you.’
Me and Shell’d been rock solid with him and he’d brushed us away like we were nothing. Just flies on his face. Shell must’ve thought the same.
‘Come on, he’s one stupid shithead,’ she’d slurred. Then she linked her arm into mine and yanked me away towards our estate. ‘We’re not the problem here, he is.’
‘Too bloody right,’ Ben yelled after us. ‘Too bloody right, you’ve caught on at last.’
The wind picked up as we walked away and drowned out the sound of his voice. I don’t know if he said anything else. We swigged the dregs of our cider as we swayed back home, tearful but sure we were right to leave him to stew in his own bad temper.
After a quick pee, I guzzled tap water from my cupped hands and splashed some on my face. Then I zombied back to my bedroom and lay back down on the bed. A crow squawked outside my window and the screech split my head in two. I buried my face under a pillow but it made no difference, the pounding didn’t stop. I must have dozed off again because the next thing I knew it was midday. The hangover was still alive and vicious in my skull and part of me wondered if I was dying. Then the recollection of my mum’s words brought me out of myself. ‘Could you give Shell’s mum a call? She wants to know where Ben is...’

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