Wrecked (Original Group Story)

Group story with several people:


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Chapter 9

Evelina Harbour

I watch as the Irish boy - Nathan, I think someone called him - trudges across the sand in the pouring rain.

Water falls down my face, dripping from my numb nose, and onto the sand below. The rain doesn't have much of an impact on my clothes; they are already soaked from my sudden dip in the sea.

I lower my gaze from the retreating figure to the curled ball on the floor - the girl, Maura, whom I'd spoken briefly to on the ferry - and then to the group of flustered girls, one of which I note has mascara running in chunks down her red cheeks.

Only one more glance at Nate's back disappearing into the forest is all I need for my decision to be made. Despite having stated how tired I am, the shelter of leaves and the company of one, hopefully quiet, boy, is more appealing than staying on the open beach with a bunch of drowned creatures. Besides, when every girl is acting moody about the situation, it's hard not to catch on.

I take off with a run, not bothering to mention where I'm going. Hopefully at least one of the group will be smart enough to realise that I'm going to help Nate collect firewood and not, in fact, rushing off to have a teddy bears picnic with all the animals in the forest.

"Hey, Nate!" I call, glad when my voice is noticeable over the patter of the rain and the slap slap slap of my feet against the wet send. "Wait up!" I add when he doesn't turn around.

Thankfully, he seems to hear me this time, as he pauses at the edge of the treeline. "Hey," he greets me warily, as I duck into the forest next to him.

As I presumed, the trees act as a shelter against the weather, excluding the few droplets that escape from the leaves. One decides to land spectacularly on the tip of my already freezing nose, resting there like a bee perching on a flower. I use the back of my hand to wipe it away, ignoring the way Nate's blue eyes watch my every movement carefully.

"What are you doing?" he asks curiously.

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. He must be at least sixteen years old, and yet, he can't work out the reason I have charged after him into the forest. If he, with his many years' experience of being around people, doesn't know, then maybe it is possible that everyone back at the beach believe that I'm having a good time with the teddies.

"Helping you get wood," I answer obviously. "If we don't hurry, there won’t be a dry ounce left in the forest," I add, eyeing the damp forest floor.

A pile of broken sticks and branches catch my eye, sitting rather boringly a few metres away. Not bothering to wait for Nate's reply, I run to the wood, kneeling before it - the wetness from the forest floor soaks through my thin leggings - and brushing the top layer away. A mound of dry light brown sticks and twigs are revealed. It's not perfect but it's much more helpful than the soggy dark brown wood that had been on top. At least, it should be enough to get a small flame started.

"How are we even going to start a fire?" wonders Nate.

I scoop up the makeshift firewood in one go, stumbling around 180 degrees with the load, and spotting Nate stood pointlessly a short distance behind me. I trudge towards him, praying that the surprisingly heavy weight in my arms won't earn me a back injury. "You can hold this." Ignoring the confused expression on his face, I dump the wood into his arms - which, thankfully, are outstretched already - before whirling around and striding decisively further into the forest.

"Why can't you hold it?" calls out Nate. To my surprise, he isn't groaning. If there's one type of person I can't stand, it's a groaner.

I smirk to myself as I use my boot to flatten a bunch of prickly bushes that block my way, before shouting back jokingly. "Suck it up and be a man!"

Unsurprisingly, there's no reply to that comment. However, and of this I can't be sure through the rustle and crackle of the next bush I leap into, but I could swear a low chuckle meets my ears.

By the time we arrive back at camp - if the circle of worn figures on the floor could even be called that - the rain has shrunk to a light drizzle. I carry the bundle of dry wood over one shoulder, proud that my persuasion skills (or perhaps, intimidation skills) won his waterproof jacket as a sling. After all, what's the use in a pile of damp firewood?

A few heads nod in our direction as we join the group. Most are sat in huddles of two but others sit on their own, some staring out to sea, as though wondering if they could walk on water back to land.

I promptly lower myself onto the sand next to the girl from the ferry, Nora, chucking the wood-filled coat into the center of our makeshift circle. It lands with a thud that makes a few heads snap up. Maura twitches upright at the noise, sending me a brief looking out of the corner of my eye, which I meet with a small smile. Her own lips seem to struggle to make a smile in return and she readjusts her shawl around her face; it seems to that her shawl adjusting has become a self-conscious habit.

"Did you find any food?" a rather agitated voice asks abruptly.

A pale girl looks at me expectantly, waiting for my answer. Her eyes are wide and desperate, framed by the half-dry remains of her mascara. Her head rests upon her hands and her legs are crossed in an elegant manner despite the conditions. From what I can see of her soaked clothes, she is wearing clothing that I could never hope to purchase with a year's allowance.

"Only firewood," Nate answers for me.

Her face sinks at his reply. Any hope vanishes from the several faces that turned at the mention of food.

"I have one biscuit," I mutter, more to myself than anyone else, remembering the crumbly cream custard my grandmother had hastily shoved into my hands before I left the house. It's most likely soggy and disintegrating in my back pocket right now.

If anyone hears me, they don't show any signs of interest, and at the realisation of the lack of food, conversation runs dry. No one shows any signs of doing anything but sitting around and staring at the rainclouds that rumble overhead.

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