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In Memorium

Guest Jen

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Type of story: Short/Medium fiction

Rating: T

Main Characters: Drew & Belle/Aden

Genre: Angst

Warnings: Brief language, Drug references

Is Story being proof read: No

Spoilers?: No

Summary: Drew returns to the bay one year on. Can things stay the same?

In Memorium

Chapter 1

I pulled the handbrake on tight and turned off the ignition. The sound of waves crashing on a nearby shore and the occasional squawk of a seagull filled my ears; a welcome change to the overly loud engine of the rusty Ute that I drove. It may not have been my dream Ferrari that I always imagined myself driving, but I paid for it myself, despite Amanda and Peter’s generous offers to subsidise the price so I could get a vehicle that actually started without needing to double de-clutch the engine. I breathed in the fresh, salty air as it whipped through the open windows.

From the outside, it looked as though nothing had changed. I however, knew better. Nothing could stay the same for 365 days. Just a quick glance in my rear-view mirror showed me that I too had changed over the space of a year. I’d cut my hair short over the summer, removing all trace of my once very curly locks. It was now beginning to grow back; the start of my horrid ringlets was sticking out on top of my head, since they were too short to lie flat. My skin was now a bronze colour, and my cheeks scattered with freckles. Even in all the time I lived here, I never once got a tan, now I wouldn’t have looked out of place at a surfing carnival. I also had dark stubble crossing my chin and lip, a residue of the dark hair on my mother’s side.

I sighed, pulling myself out of the car to stretch my legs. I looked momentarily up and down the street for a familiar face, but there was not a car or pedestrian in sight. It was almost as if no one knew I was coming, which they didn’t. I didn’t even know I was coming until two days ago when Peter had told me that he wouldn’t be returning for the memorial; something about having too much paper work to do. I was pretty sure that wasn’t the reason for his absence, but I hated the thought of the entire town realising that our whole side of the family was a no show. And believe me, they would notice.

I leant across the front seat and heaved my backpack out of the car. Swinging it over my shoulder I slowly made my way up to the house, not even bothering to lock the doors. No one would steal my car in a town like this.

The house seemed silent, so I knocked twice on the front door. I knew the back was probably open, but figured my long absence didn’t entitle me to use the “local entrance”.

“Coming!” I heard a familiar voice call. Even after a year, her voice was still as loud as ever, sounding cheerful from a distance. I heard footsteps rapidly approach before the click of a lock and the door flew open.

“Sorry, I was in the middle of –“ she began, but as soon as she looked up and saw me, her whole expression changed. She broke into a smile and exclaimed,


“Hey Leah,” I replied, stepping forward to give her a hug. She barely came to my shoulder as I pulled my arms around her.

“It’s so great to see you,” Leah said happily. She stepped to the side of the hall and allowed me to pass her, entering into the house.

“Thanks,” I replied, “You look really well.”

I wandered into the living area. The two lounges were still there, facing towards the TV in the corner. The yellow dining table and chairs was in the opposite corner, covered in papers and files. Clearly, this had been what Leah was doing before I arrived.

She shuffled past me, eager to remove the clutter so we could sit down.

“Sorry,” she apologised, “All the papers showed up for access to the trust and I’ve been spending every free moment riffling through them.”

“It’s fine,” I said, dropping my backpack to the floor and making my way to the nearest lounge. I let myself sink into the cushions, finally able to put my feet up after my long drive.

Leah looked up from the table, and seeing that I had already abandoned the formalities, did the same. She walked over and sat herself on the arm of the other two-seater.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she began, “It’s lovely to see you. But what are you doing back here?”

I shrugged,

“I guess a year is a long time to stay away.”

Leah’s eyes fell onto my face, looking past my hair and directly into my eyes. She nodded slowly,

“Yes,” she agreed, “A year is a very long time.”

“So,” I said, trying to lighten the suddenly solemn mood, “How have you been? Anything changed in this place?”

Leah let out a small laugh,

“I’m doing okay,” she said, “It’s been a bit tough at times, but knowing you’re now going to be here for the memorial, might make it a bit easier.”

I nodded in reply.

“I’m sorry Peter couldn’t make it.”

“Yeah, he called,” Leah replied, “He’s obviously very busy.”

“Or he’s a coward,” I added.

“I don’t think it’s like that, Drew.”

I shrugged again. Sure, maybe the first time I left it wasn’t on the best of terms, but I had the guts to return and sort things out. It may have been after numerous visits from my mother and hounding from Ric, but the truth was, that I couldn’t just up and leave the place that I spent three years of my life with everyone hating me. Peter on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind. He had Amanda and Ryan now, what more did he need?

“So, what about you?” Leah asked suddenly.

“Not much,” I replied, looking away. School had always been a touchy subject. “I finished year 12 in the city and now I’ve got an apprenticeship. I’m also a lifeguard at the local pool during the school holidays.”

“That’s great,” she said, and her voice sounded genuine, “I’m glad everything worked out.”

“Yeah, the pay is pretty decent. Got myself enough to buy a car,” I said proudly, thinking of my Ute parked out front.

“And I’m sure the girls are pretty impressed too,” she said, smiling cheekily and leaning across to scruff my hair.

“Oi!” I exclaimed, and began using both my hands to try and make the mop lay flat again.

“Still the same,” Leah said with a chuckle.

She stood up and moved away from the lounge, towards the adjoining kitchen.

“Do you want a drink?” she asked.

“Sure,” I replied, following her.

“I’d forgotten how long that drive could be,” I said as I watched her put the kettle on, “I got stuck behind this one old lady on my way out. I swear she was doing like 40 k’s!”

Leah let out a laugh, and that made me smile. The last time I saw her, she was so upset that I didn’t think she would ever laugh or smile again. It comforted me to know that things were looking up.

Just then the back door flew open and in walked two girls. Well, one was a lady, dressed in full police uniform her long brown hair tied back into a ponytail, the other a teenager in the familiar Summer Bay High dress her brunette locks flowing freely.

Leah spun around,

“Charlie, Ruby? I’d like you to meet my nephew, Drew,” she said, gesturing from the two new arrivals to me, “Drew, this is Charlie and her sister Ruby. They live here as well.”

“Hey,” the policewoman said, holding out her hand to shake mine, “I’m Charlie.” Then she gave a quick nod to excuse herself from the room. The school girl, her sister, was gazing intently up at me. Her mouth was gaping slightly as she continued to stare.

“Hey, I’m Drew,” I said feebly, giving her a small wave.

“I know who you are,” Ruby replied, pointing at me with her index finger. I could almost see the cogs working inside her head. It was as if she was trying to put together the pieces of one giant jigsaw puzzle. “You’re the guy who used to date Belle, right?”

Her replied stunned me. It was now my turn to stare. How did some chick who I had only just met know about me and Belle?

“Er... yeah, I guess I am,” I replied unsurely, wondering where this was leading.

“Well, just so you know, she is incredibly happy now, and doesn’t need you butting into her life again,” Ruby said, hostilely. She narrowed her eyes and glared at me, before Leah exclaimed in anger,

“Ruby! That is totally uncalled for.”

“Sorry,” Ruby muttered, “Just stating the facts.”

“Well, here are the facts,” I said bluntly, stepping forward towards the girl, “I’m here for Leah and Dan’s memorial, not to try and win back Belle.”

Ruby gave me one final evil eye before snatching an apple from the fruit bowl and leaving the room.

“What was that all about?” I wondered aloud.

“I am so sorry,” Leah apologised profusely, “Ruby is going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment.” I nodded slowly. “You know how it is, finding out you’re not the only girl in a guy’s life.”

As soon as the words were out of Leah’s mouth, I could tell she regretted them,

“I am so sorry,” she said again, “I didn’t mean-“

Seeing she was struggling, I shot her a quick smile,

“Look, don’t worry about it. I’m over it, and by the sounds of it, so is Belle,” I replied. “Speaking of which, how is Belle?”


A/N: Me again! This was just a random idea that I felt I needed to write. The whole thing is only a half a dozen chapters, while I'm still continuing Drive Me Insane. Comments = Love!

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A/N: Wow! I don't think I've ever had this many reviews for a first chapter before. Thank you so much everyone. I'm really glad you think I write Drew well in the first person, because all of the chapters are from his POV. And thanks to all your wonderful comments here's chapter 2 :)

Chapter 2

I saw her before she saw me. She was head wandering along the beach, her thoughts clearly miles away. I almost didn’t recognise her at first. She had grow out her hair so that it was hanging on her shoulders, chopped a fringe across the front and I could see streaks of red and blonde radiating in the sunlight. She was also wearing black pants and ballet flats, but a familiar black and white t-shirt was a dead giveaway. I would know it anywhere. But she seemed thinner than I remembered, paler too, but that could have been my distorted memory. While we were together I always thought the sun shone out of her. But as the harsh light of day shone down on her figure, she appeared to be only a shadow of the girl I once knew.

I slowly made my way along the beach. We were only metres apart and the gap was closing steadily with each step. I considered turning and running in the other direction, or burying my head in my hands and walking straight past, hoping she wouldn’t notice. But, this was a small town, no amount of time would change that, so sooner or later she would find out I was here. I much preferred to tell her myself, rather than she found out through Colleen Smart, who Leah told me, still worked in the Diner.

She had her head hung low, watching every footstep that she took, rather than what was in front of her. If I wasn’t staring at her so intently she would had run directly into me. I stepped aside quickly as she continued to walk. I shook my head to myself, wondering what could possibly be occupying her head so much.

“Hey, watch it!” I called out after her.

“Sorry!” she replied, turning to look over her shoulder to see who had yelled.

Her brow was wrinkled and she still looked as though she was thinking about other things. But when she saw my face she stopped in her tracks. Her mouth gaped, wider than Ruby’s, and all remaining colour drained from her face.

I took a couple of steps towards her, but Belle remained rooted on the spot. She rubbed her eyes, as if I was some kind of figment of her imagination.

“You!” she exclaimed.

“Gee, Belle. I always knew you had a way with words,” I replied, letting out a low chuckle.

She looked away from me and shook her head vigorously.

“Yes, I’m really here,” I supplied, taking another step forward so we were now eyeballing each other.


“Again, with the monosyllables,” I replied, giving her a little smile, “I’m here for the memorial, despite what Ruby might think.”

“Sorry,” she replied.

I shot my eyebrows up, again questioning how this girl possibly got a cadetship to work at the local newspaper. Belle let out a strained laugh and smiled up at me.

“It’s good to see you Drew,” she finally said.

“Now was that so hard?” I asked sarcastically.

She let out a forced laugh, but I could tell she wasn’t entirely amused. I shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other. We were standing less than a metre apart. Would it be too weird if we hugged? I decided against it, opting for a more indirect approach.

“So,” I began, “How have you been?”

“Fine,” she replied. She averted her eyes from mine, choosing to stare at the flock of seagulls that flew overhead at that very moment.

“That’s good,” I said, nodding, “Do you still work at the paper?”

I couldn’t read her expression as she contemplated my question. Belle’s job at the local newspaper was a large contributor to our break-up. But I was over that, and now genuinely interested.

“It’s funny you should mention that,” Belle said, “I’ve only just got my job back.”


“Yeah, turns out you were right about Gavin all along,” she sighed, “But now I’m back where I started, under different management of course.”

“I knew you’d figure it out in the end,” I said with a chuckle.

Belle gave me a small smile.

“What about you? What are you doing to keep yourself amused?”

“I finally did my HSC,” I replied with a cheesy grin.

“Yay for you,” Belle said happily, also smiling.

We were both smiling at each other, and then we began to laugh. First Belle, a small giggle slipped through her lips, and then I couldn’t help myself. I always thought her laugh was infectious; turns out I still wasn’t immune. The laughter was cut off by a voice I recognised calling out,

“Hey Belle!”

I stopped and looked over my shoulder, seeing a guy, around my age jogging along the beach towards us. I gazed back over at Belle, whose face instantly tightened. Her relaxed expression shifted into the same concentrated glare she had on before. Her brow wrinkled and she pursed her lips as she watched the guy approach.

As he came closer, I began to recognise his face. A distinct beach boy appearance, he had short blonde hair and was wearing a white singlet and board shorts. I looked down at my own appearance, my collared shirt and cargo pants seemed suddenly out of place on a beach.

The guy pulled up in front of me, but looked straight past my face and talked directly to Belle.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, “I got caught up talking to Roman.”

“That’s okay,” Belle replied, shifting herself so she was situated between the two of us.

I stared at the guy. His eyes were darting back and forth between Belle and me. I could see he was trying to decide whether I was anything to worry about.

“Um, Aden, you remember Drew right?” Belle said cautiously, as she motioned from me to him. Aden’s fist’s instantly tightened. This didn’t go unnoticed by Belle either because she added quickly,

“He’s here for Dan’s memorial,” as if this meant I was less of a threat.

“Hey man,” Aden finally replied, sticking out his hand for me to shake. He shoved his other one deep into his pocket. It was probably still balled up tightly, ready to smack the daylights out of me, should the need arise.

“Hey,” I replied casually, taking his hand and giving it a firm shake.

Having acknowledged my presence, Aden instantly set to ignoring me. Talking directly to Belle he said,

“So are we still going for lunch?” before adding suggestively, “ Or we can do something special for dinner tonight?”

“Dinner sounds good,” Belle replied quickly, staring down at her feet, “I have to head back to the office soon anyway.”

“Ok, great,” Aden said, moving forward and giving Belle a quick kiss on the cheek, “I’ll see you tonight.” I saw his hand slip around her tiny waist, before he stepped away. “It was good seeing you, Drew,” he added politely as he disappeared along the beach. I gave him a nod and watched as he strode off.

As soon as Aden’s back was turned, Belle began to walk off quickly.

“Hang on a sec!” I called out, taking a couple of jogging steps to catch up. She was setting quite a fast pace.

“I have to go to work,” she said, head down and walking.

“Yeah, I heard,” I replied, “But what about you and Aden?”

“What about it?”

“You’re dating Aden Jefferies?” I asked incredulously.

“Yeah, so?”

“So?” I probed, “The guy is a tool.”

“He is not,” Belle replied defensively.

“Oh, really? So, this isn’t the same Aden Jefferies who got Tam Armstrong drunk on the beach and had his mate’s film him making out with her? Or the same guy who cut the power at our formal? Or locked Geoff Campbell in the boot of Tony’s car?” I stared at her, wide-eyed, barely believing what I had just witnessed, “That was a different Aden, was it?”

“No,” Belle said quietly, before suddenly turning to face me, “But there is a lot more to it than that! He’s a different guy to the one you knew.”

“Clearly,” I muttered sarcastically.

“Look,” Belle said, staring at me for the first time, her eyes filled with passion, “You can’t just waltz back into town and expect things to be the same as how you left it.”

“I don’t expect things to have stayed the same,” I said defensively, “It’s just I thought you had better sense than to get involved with a guy like Aden.”

“You don’t know anything about me!” she exclaimed.

I stood stunned, as this girl, who looked like one of my best friends, turned on me. I suddenly realised that a lot more things had changed than just her appearance.

“I’ve moved on, Drew. Deal with it.”


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A/N: Thank you so much for all the awesome comments. I really appreciate it and hope you all like this chapter.

Chapter 3

I wandered aimlessly down the hallways of Summer Bay High. The students were still in their morning classes so the corridors were empty, and the classrooms practically silent. I had agreed to come with Leah to the meeting which would be held that morning at the school. The time had finally come to decide what to do with the money Leah had received from the generous benefactor following Dan’s death. We had walked in silence for the majority of the stroll from the house to the school. I occasionally commented on the weather, the surf was pumping and I promised myself a few waves later on. Leah however, didn’t reply. She seemed to be in her own world for most of the morning. She made breakfast in silence before retreating to her bedroom to get ready. I couldn’t blame her really, not only had I showed up out of the blue, but I think the sudden realisation of using the money had hit home. From what I could gather, as long as that money had stayed in trust, slowly accumulating interest, it remained as a life-line to Dan. But once this money was spent, on whatever the school board decided, there would be nothing left.

I felt uneasy as Leah walked ahead of me. I deliberately slowed my pace, allowing Leah some space and also giving myself the opportunity to look around the building which I had spent, regrettably, much of my time. Rows of lockers were fixed to the walls on either side of me. Without even realising it, my eyes darted to one in particular. The second last locker of the second row. To the untrained eye it looked like all the others, undistinguishable. Except I knew what it really was. There was a dent right above the closed padlock where I had tried to break in my brute force rather than search for my key, not to mention the scratch right above the top left hand corner from the time Jules had taken it upon himself to remove my iPod from my locker without my permission. I heard myself chuckle aloud as the memories of my own school days began to ebb back. My deep voice echoed in the abandoned halls and I quickly looked over my shoulder to see if anyone else had heard. Fortunately, the corridors were still empty.

Even though I finished school, finally graduated, I still felt as though someone was watching me from afar. As though Mr Bartlett would round the corner at any moment and take great pride in telling me off for some misdemeanour. I was never one for academics, so school hadn’t really agreed with me while I was here. The padlock rested easily through the latch, indicating that the locker was currently in use. I wondered who would be using it now? A guy, sporty maybe, not one for books, using it to hide his dirty gym socks and left over lunches? Or possibly a girl, top in her class, not quite as popular, using it for it’s actually purpose of containing as many school books as possible? I had no way of knowing. I also realised that I would actually know vey few of the students who now remained at school. All my friends had moved on, gone to university or left town, or like Belle were now working in the local area.

“Mr Curtis!”

I turned suddenly at the booming voice. Mr Bartlett strode into view and I suddenly began to sweat. Even though I knew I hadn’t been doing anything wrong, it seemed old habits die hard. Bartlett stuck out his hand in line with his protruding stomach for me to shake. Wearily, I stuck out my own and had my fingers clasped within his grip.

“Good to see you, Drew,” he said politely.

“Hi, Mr Bartlett,” I replied uneasily.

“Leah told me you were back in town. How long are you staying?”

“I’m not too sure,” I replied honestly.

There was a sudden screech as the bell signalling the end of morning classes rang through the halls. Startled, I jumped back, hitting my elbow on the padlock of my ex-locker. I rubbed it ferociously as I watched students, who seemed a lot smaller than I remembered myself being, stream out of all the visible doors. I was pushed to the side as adolescents struggled to reach their lockers, stopping in the middle of the thoroughfare to talk to their friends before gathering up their belongings and making their way through the large double doors at the end of the hall.

“The meeting’s this way,” Bartlett said across the noise to me, before his eyes darted to a couple of boys who ran past, “No running Mr Johnson!” He streamed off after them, pushing his own way through the crowd.

I slipped past a group of giggling girls, who were eyeing me suspiciously, as I made my way into the classroom which Bartlett had indicated. The door was open and as I walked in I was faced with an already assembled crowd.

The desks had been pushed to the back of the room, and all the chairs were now facing the front. Students and teachers alike, along with Leah had already taken up occupancy in the seats. I noticed Geoff Campbell look up from his little sister and blonde friend as I entered. He gave me a brief smile before returning to his huddle. He held a series of palm cards in his hand and turned them speedily while he chatted. I noticed there was a gleaming badge pinned proudly to his chest, and I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I took up my own seat next to Leah; Geoff always was a high achiever. When I was at school, if I could go a week without getting a detention or forgetting to hand in an assignment then I was doing well.

I felt Leah tense beside me and raised my eyes to see Bartlett enter the room. He had obviously finished dealing with the delinquents, however he glanced momentarily over his shoulder – no doubt ensuring his school building was still standing. He cleared his throat and the room feel silent,

“Welcome everyone,” he said, “Especially Mrs Leah Patterson-Baker for being here today, at no doubt a difficult time for you and your family.” Leah nodded curtly.

“We also welcome Belle Taylor,” my ears immediately pricked up, “who is here today on behalf of The Coastal News. She will be reporting the journey of which we are all undertaking, beginning today.”

I looked quickly around the room, hardly believing that I had missed her when I first walked in. Turning in my seat and peering past the heads and shoulders of many students, I spied Belle standing sheepishly at the back of the room. She was pressed hard against the desks, her notepad and pen poised at the ready in her hand. From a sideward glance it would appear she was a regular journalist, however on closure examination her eyes were glazed over, not making eye contact with anyone in the room. She didn’t even acknowledge that Bartlett had said her name.

“As you know Dan Baker was a well loved member of the school community. His death not only affected the students, but the staff of the school as well as the wider community. Mrs Patterson-Baker has kindly offered to use the money she received following Dan’s passing to support the students of this school. A very noble gesture and one that I’m sure Dan would have appreciated. The students of this school were always Mr Baker’s priority.”

The room remained silent as Mr Bartlett concluded. It was a moment before I realised that Leah had reached over and placed her hand lightly on top of mine. She sat there, without a trace of movement, her gazed fixated on the monochrome board at the front.

“The students have prepared some presentations outlining their ideas of how they want the money to be spent,” Bartlett continued, “Mr Campbell, if you’re ready?”

Geoff looked uncertainly around the room before taking a deep breath and standing up. He moved to the front of the room and stood before the audience.

I knew I was supposed to be listening with rapt attention to the speeches which these kids had prepared, but somehow I couldn’t concentrate. My mind wandered to Belle, standing like a statue at the back of the room, and I needed to use all my will power not to turn around and stare at her.

The morning dragged as several members of the student council gave their prepared speeches about how they felt the money should be used. Many suggestions were offered including a hang-out room for the students in one of the unoccupied classrooms, an annual hiking trip and a memorial collage on one of the school’s walls. Finally there was an abrupt scraping of chairs and movement of people around me. I blinked momentarily, taking in the sudden change of pace. I looked around to see Leah standing and moving to the front of the room. Students had begun to file out of the classroom as Bartlett watched with intent from the door. Clearly, the meeting had been adjourned.

I stood up and glanced around the room, expecting to see Belle still standing at the back. However, when my eyes crossed the space, she was nowhere to be found.

I wandered aimlessly out of the room, bypassing Bartlett who had moved away from the door. Slipping past him unnoticed, I was now in the bustling corridor. Students pushed past me, not even looking up as they crashed into me with their overloaded backpacks. I was forced back into a corner, the hard edge of an adjacent locker prodding me in the back.

Looking across the many flow of students I saw a door swing open and she appeared out of the girl’s bathroom. Belle’s face appeared to be glistening in the harsh fluorescent lights as she gazed around the busy corridor. She looked up, catching my eye from across the hall. Flashing me a large smile she walked briskly, almost skipping, between students to meet me.

“Hey!” she said brightly.

I could hardly believe it was the same girl. She could barely contain her newly found excitement. She was now bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, blinking her eyes rapidly as she stared around the corridors. Most of the student body had retreated outside for their break, so the flow of traffic had decreased significantly. I realised that I was still standing with my back against the wall. I stood forward, towering over Belle’s petite figure.

I gazed down curiously at her. She looked up expectantly. Even when Belle became a full time journalist the first time, no amount of coffee ever gave her that much of a boost. Her eyes were bloodshot and against her pale skin the dark circles under her eyes were apparent.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah, of course,” Belle replied with a smile, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I don’t know,” I said shrugging, “I’m just a bit surprised with your sudden burst of energy.”

“Oh,” Belle’s face turned into a grimace, “Things have just been really hectic at work. And you know I’ve never been much of a morning person.”

She forced a smile back up at me,

“You’d be surprised how much difference a coffee can make,” she added.

I nodded, but something still seemed slightly off.

“There you are!” a voice called. I turned around and looking over my shoulder saw Leah approaching me, Bartlett at her side. He peeled off and entered the nearby classroom where the meeting was being held, but Leah continued on.

“Belle, how are you?” Leah asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Belle replied casually.

“Thank you so much for covering the story,” Leah said.

“It’s my pleasure. My boss was really keen to do it, said it was just what the community needed to hear. Never shy away from a good news story he said.”

I glanced over at Belle who was talking rapidly. She seemed to be okay. Sure, she was a little thinner than I remembered, but who was I to say anything. I had just driven into town a mere two days ago and couldn’t expect to be in the loop straight away, let along make judgements about things that I no longer had any say in. Belle was her own person, clearly doing fine without me. I had no reason not to believe her.


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A/N: Thank you so much to all my reviewers. You are awesome! I always enjoy reading your comments. Next chapter is below, so read on!

Chapter 4

I could hardly believe my eyes.

“I know it’s not much, but it was Dan’s. It hasn’t been used since –“ Leah trailed off.

She was standing before me holding a treasure. Dan’s old surfboard was reflecting much of the afternoon light, but remained slightly dull due to the thin layer of dust which had accumulated over time. I had been sitting out on the patio with a drink when Leah had appeared from behind with the board. I now sat mouth slightly agape, staring at the beauty.

“If you don’t want to use it that’s fine,” Leah added hastily, “I just thought, while you’re here –“

“It’s perfect, Leah,” I said, cutting her off.

She smiled down at me in relief. I stood up and took the board from her hands and leant it on the brickwork of the side of house. Using my index finger I traced down the left hand rail, suddenly craving the feeling of being on top of a wave. Although I worked at a swimming pool surrounded by water, waves were very hard to come by in the city.

I felt a small hand on my shoulder,

“Dan would be so proud of you,” she said.

“You reckon?” I asked.

“Definitely. You’ve turned everything around. All he wanted was for you to be happy.”

I gave her a small smile in thanks, before using both hands to grab the sides of the board. Shifting from one foot to the other I inspected the line and condition in which it been preserved. It was the same as I always remembered it.

“You can take it out now if you like,” Leah said.

“Really?” I replied anxiously.

“Sure,” Leah said with a chuckle.

“You don’t need me around here?”

“Just go.”

I pulled the board under my arm and pulled a lone beach towel off the back of the chair where I was previously sitting. Sweeping past Leah I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before striding down the side of the house and towards the beach.

The waves were crashing on the shore, a lone pelican circling overhead. The sky was a perfect blue, all clouds were absent as I looked back to shore. Feeling the sudden surge of water beneath my board I lay down on top kicking my legs with all my might. I paddled ferociously onto the crest of the wave before standing, planting my feet firmly on the fibreglass surface. Sticking out my arms and leaning forward I rode the wave in to the shore, feeling the water pulsating beneath me. As the water became shallower I moved my feet towards the front edge of the board. Before it could slip out from underneath my weight, I dived head first off the end. The cool water surrounded me and the air rushed into my lungs as my head broke the surface.

I carried the board back to shore, dumping it on the sand and picked up my towel. Once I was sufficiently dry I slowly made my way up the path etched into the sand dunes, and headed to the Diner. Surfing still made me hungry.

Leaving the board outside, I wandered into the Pier Diner. The new Diner had white paint plastered on the walls, with the absence of the ancient fishing nets that used to hang above the tables. The front counter was directly in front of me as I entered, so I stood casually to one side, hoping to remain inconspicuous as I waited.

There was a shrill ringing and a blur of fiery red hair sped past my eyes.

“Hello? Pier Diner. Irene Roberts speaking.”

Irene spoke into the phone. I felt the corner of my lips turn up as I noticed the infamous hamburger phone which she was using. She looked up from her phone call, catching my line of sight. Her green eyes bulged slightly as she registered that I was standing before her. She held up her index finger, silently telling me to stay put.

She closed the hamburger with a click and turned to me with a bright smile.

“A little birdie told me you were back in town,” she said.

I shrugged and with a chuckle replied,

“Good to know word still travels fast around here.”

“It’s good to see you, love,” she said.

“Oh my!” I heard a voice exclaim beside me.

I looked over my shoulder to see Colleen Smart in an outrageously floral ensemble appear at my side.

“Hi Colleen,” I said unsurely.

“Drew Curtis. You know I was saying to Madge Wilkins only last week that I was wondering what Dan’s nephew was doing. She said you were probably going to amount to nothing after dropping out of school and having no job, but I said –“

“That’s enough Colleen,” Irene interjected.

“But I was only saying,” Colleen moped.

“Don’t you have some tables to clean?” Irene probed.

“Well, all right then,” Colleen replied sheepishly before scurrying away.

I sighed, relieved to finally have a bit more breathing room.

“Sorry about that, darl. But you remember what she’s like.”

“No worries, Irene,” I said.

“Now, what can I get you?” she asked.

“An OJ and a salad sandwich,” I replied a bit too quickly. I surprised myself at how easily the menu returned to my memory. I guess it is one of those things you never forget, kind of like riding a bike.

Irene scribbled down my order on her notepad before saying,

“I’ll get Belle to take care of that for you.”

I wrinkled my brow in a moment of confusion. Didn’t Belle say she was working at the paper? How could she be managing two jobs? Irene saw my muddled expression and commented,

“She still does a couple of shifts a week to help us out. Working at the Coastal News as well, I don’t know how she does it,” before disappearing into the kitchen.

I turned away from the counter and made my way across the space to an empty table against the far wall. Light was streaming in through the venetian blinds, casting zebra stripes across the tabletop as I sat down.

Time seemed to pass in a blur as I just sat and watched the people come and go through the Diner. Locals would just blow in for a take-away coffee while visitors from out of town would take up residence at a table and have a sit down lunch with their family. Occasionally members of the local community would recognise me and approach for the usual small talk, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was almost as if I was a fly on the wall in a small seaside town, just watching the sceneries unfold before my eyes. It wasn’t until I glanced over at the clock on the wall that I realised that it had been over an hour, and I was still waiting for my order.

I stood up from my table and wandered towards the front counter. It was empty. No one was guarding the till or rushing to and from the kitchen. I looked over my shoulder for any sign of Irene, or heck, even Colleen would do at this point. But there was no sign of either of them. I took the liberty to skirt around the front counter and peer into the kitchen.

Plates were piled up on the side of the sink, the water still running. Two steps and I was at the sink, turning the taps rapidly to shut off the stream. I could still hear the buzz of people in the dining area, oblivious to the absence of the cook. But, closer than the paying patrons, I heard the sound of sobbing. The tiled kitchen made the crying echo and seemed to be getting louder as I moved further away from the front counter and towards the back of the kitchen. I looked around, past the tins of food all aligned on a shelf in front of me, to the far corner of the storage area.

Curled up in a tight ball was a figure I recognised, or at least thought I recognised. Her hair was bedraggled in front of her face and from the back I could see she was still wearing an apron. She was leaning against the wall, her whole body shaking as she continued to cry.

“Belle,” I began cautiously, in no more than a whisper.

There was no reply, as her whole body shuddered and her feet gave way beneath her frail body. Where she was previously just crouching, Belle had now fallen onto the tiled floor.

Without thinking, I ran over to her and piled her into my arms. It surprised me how easily she fit into my chest, her body shuddering between my firm hold.

“It’s okay,” I murmured into her hair.

I had no idea what had upset her so much, or what was causing her so much pain, and I refrained from asking. We just sat in the corner on the room on the cold tiles, my arms closed in tightly around her body, her tears soaking the front of my t-shirt.

At one point one of the casual workers came in, having dealt with numerous angry customers who hadn’t received their orders. Without letting go of Belle, or even looking up, I instructed her to give them a free coffee and get rid of them all. The Diner was now quiet as Belle’s tears finally subsided. She used the front of my shirt, which was stained with black mascara to wipe her eyes, before finally pulling her head away from my chest.

Her face was pale, both her eyes were bloodshot and her lips bright red.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, her voice barely audible.

“It’s okay,” I replied.

She leant back her head and rested it on the wall for support.

“Are you alright?” I knew it was a stupid question to ask, but I didn’t know what else to say.

Belle nodded, any remaining colour draining from her face.

“No, you’re not,” I said for her.

Closing her eyes, Belle took a deep breath.

“I will be.”

“How can you be certain?”

“I’m dealing with it.”

“You were always stubborn,” I said seriously.

Belle’s lips morphed into a grimace as she attempted to stand. Her legs buckled beneath her as I caught her from falling. She used one hand to grip the wall on one side, her other arm was wrapped around my neck.

“We have to get you home,” I said.

Belle ferociously shook her head,

“Not yet,” she begged, looking up and staring me in the eyes.

Even after all this time I could tell she was in pain. It was the same look she had in her eyes when we broke up. After that day I vowed that I would never let her look at me that way again, it broke my heart to see her like this. I nodded solemnly and hoisted her onto my hip. We stumbled out of the storeroom, walking slowly through the kitchen and out into the main dining area.

The lights were dimmed and we were alone as Belle lay down on the sofa in front of the coffee machine. She pulled her knees up to her chest and held them tightly, squeezing her eyes closed. Instinctively I brushed her hair off her face. I let my fingers momentarily linger on her exposed cheekbone. The cold temperature of her skin on my warm finger sent a shiver up my arm.

I slowly pulled my hand away and shoved it into my lap, my eyes never leaving her smooth face. The waves crashed noisily outside as I sat in silence, watching her chest rise and fall melodically as she slept.


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A/N: Thank you so much for the reviews and comments Bec, Becky, Laura, Taniya, Zoe and Lise. This is the second last chapter, so please comment if you haven't as yet.

Chapter 5

I felt a slight nudge against my leg. I wrinkled my brow as I tried to keep my eyes closed. However, the pain in my neck was steady as I realised I was in a most uncomfortable position. I let my eyes open and welcomed the dull lighting of the Pier Diner. My feet were kicked up, crossed over, on a coffee table. My head had fallen back and was jutting out at an awkward angle as it rested on the top of the plastic chair which I had sunk into.

There was another prodding sensation at my foot. I gazed down in that direction and saw Belle looking intently back at me, still lying on the sofa. Minimal colour had returned to her face, while her untamed locks from an uneasy rest still made her look distressed. I suddenly sat up straight in my chair and pulled my feet off the table and out of Belle’s reach.

“Hey,” she moaned, “I was having fun.”

“Not with my appendages, you’re not,” I replied with a smile and a forced laugh. The reality was, this wasn’t a situation to joke about.

I glanced up at the clock on the wall, the long hand pointing to the one and the short hand cutting off the nine.

“Must have dosed off,” I commented aimlessly.

“I’m sorry,” Belle said sadly.

“It’s fine,” I replied, “Just tell me what’s going on.”

“I can’t.”

“Remember when we used to tell each other everything, to the point of brutal honesty?” I said, “Why can’t it still be like that?”

Belle shrugged,


“’Cause why?”

“Things have changed, Drew.”

“What kind of things?” I probed.

Belle slowly struggled up from her lying position on the sofa. She propped up her petite body on her elbows and leant slightly towards me.

“Because,” she said in a whisper, I leant in closer to her face, “I don’t want you to change your opinion of me.”

“I could never do that,” I replied, “You’re still the same stubborn, annoying, overly confident girl that I always knew and fell in love with.”

Belle closed her eyes and shied away her face from my own.

“Don’t say things you don’t mean,” she said quietly.

“But I do mean it,” I replied.

Belle buried her head in her hands, a poor attempt to block out what I was saying. It was so unlike the Belle I used to date. One year ago she would have told me I was an idiot and completely arrogant and moved on, but not now. Now, she was on the verge of falling off a very steep cliff and I had no idea how to stop her.


She looked up. It was the first time I had used my nickname for her since I had arrived. When we broke up Belle had asked me to stop calling her that name, and I had obliged. But now, I needed her to see that although we both had different lives now, things could still be the same.

“What?” she asked.

“Talk to me,” I said simply.

Belle sighed and sat up on the sofa. Her feet curled up underneath her; there was now room to sit beside her. I stood up from my plastic chair and sat down again beside her, the cushions sinking under by weight.

“I – I -” she began unsurely, “I’m ashamed.”

She didn’t look up at me as she spoke, instead she began to pick at an invisible loose thread on her top.

“I can’t cope anymore.”

I reached out my hand and placed it on her shoulder but she shrugged it away.

“There was an accident. I got hurt. I used painkillers to get over the pain. Everyone had thought things had returned to normal. I was my usual self, except it was a lie.”

She looked up at me, her brown eyes swimming behind her tears.

“I used the drugs to get back on my feet and now I can’t let go,” her tears spilled over the rim of her eyelids, “I tried Drew, I really did. But I just can’t.”

Ignoring her protest I put my arm around her shoulder and pulled her in against my body for a second time without saying a word.

“Nobody knows,” she said between her tears, “And you can’t tell anyone.” Her voice was strained and pleading with me.

“I won’t,” I replied, as she nuzzled her face into my shirt once more.

We sat in silence as I let her cry. Her small body shook under the pressure as her world appeared to fall down around her. Her cheeks glistened under the dim lighting, catching the water droplets at different angles. Her brown orbs appeared to stand out from the rest of her face, captivating my attention wholeheartedly. I wasn’t noticing her gaunt appearance or the fact that I could feel her ribs beneath her shirt as I hugged her tight, but just the sadness behind those hazel eyes. She was a scared little girl again, and at that moment I was her only friend.

Belle sniffled and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She looked over at me, catching me staring.

“You’re looking at me differently,” she said sadly.

“Yes,” I replied. Belle’s face fell once more.

“I’m wondering how, after all this time, I still feel this way about you,” I said.

Belle let out a hiccough and looked into my eyes. My sudden honesty catching us both by surprise.

“Don’t say things like that,” she replied quietly.

“Why not?” I retaliated, “A year is not long enough for me to stop caring about you. I don’t think I ever will stop thinking about you, wondering what you are doing, what you are thinking, who you are dating.”


“Why? It’s the truth. We may have been over for a while now, and I accept that. But what I won’t accept is you tearing yourself apart thinking that you aren’t good enough, because that is crazy. You’re the one who told me I was an idiot for dropping out of school.”

“Stop it,” she said again.

“You’re the one who hit me with a wooden paddle so I would take the hint and get lost while you were with Lucas. You’re the one who forgave me after all the sh*t I put you through with Amanda. That was you, Belle, no one else. Don’t ever tell yourself you are second best, because you changed me Belle. Whether you want to admit it or not, I grew up in the Bay, because of you.”

“Just cut it out, Drew!” she exclaimed, but she made no effort to move from her position on the sofa, “I’m not the same person that I was when we were dating.”

“I’m glad,” I replied, “You’ve grown and changed, and that is fine. I would be worried if you were exactly the same as when I dumped you.”

“Hey,” Belle said, “I dumped you, remember?”

“Minor technicality,” I said with casual wave, causing Belle to let out a small hiccough followed by a sigh.

She looked over at me once more, her eyes finally dry. Her cheeks were flushed and her lips were pink. They stood out against her pale complexion, as the blood pulsated beneath her skin. I leant in slowly, hearing the steady inhaling and exhaling of her breath beneath my chin.

Our noses touched first, sending a shiver up my spine. Then, our lips touched, as though we were both barely there. There was no fire or passion beneath the kiss, rather just a familiar scent and comfort from an old friend. It was like being welcomed home after a long time, but we both knew it wouldn’t last.

Very slowly, our lips parted and the cool night wind swept the through the open window on the far side of the Diner. I held my breath as I listened, my eyes still closed, for her heart still beating steadily inside her chest. The steady beat radiated out of her small frame as I increased the distance between us. She still had her eyes closed as she whispered,

“I’m in love with Aden.”

“I know,” I replied in a hushed voice.

Her eyelids fluttered open and she stared at me intently. Her eyes scanned my expression in the hope of some solution to the current situation. What I said next was inevitable, but not something she wanted to hear,

“You have to tell him.”

Belle nodded solemnly.

“If he loves you, then he will stand by you.”

“I know,” she replied.


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A/N: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed. Ready for the last chapter? Reviews = Love!

Chapter 6

I heaved my one travelling bag onto the passenger’s seat of the Ute and slammed the door closed. I turned around to face Leah, her cheeks glistening from the tears she had already shed since last night when I announced I would be leaving in the morning. She had also cried during breakfast that resulted in her spilling her coffee over the kitchen bench, which Ruby was forced to clean up. She gave me many evil glances while she mopped the floor and Leah recomposed herself.

I had never intended to stay for long and now that the school had decided to take an annual camping trip in memory of Dan I had no reason to stay. Leah seemed pleased with the outcome of the vote taken by the school council and proudly handed over the check the Mr Bartlett.

It was 36 hours since I had seen Belle. We left the Diner that night together, but I did not see her at all the following day. Yesterday morning Leah had asked where I had got to after my surf, I carefully explained that I caught up with some old friends for a drink at the Surf Club and time had escaped us, and thankfully she didn’t ask any more questions.

I spent the day mooching about the house, having free run of the television and the contents of the fridge. I used the time to hang out with VJ, who I hadn’t seen since I had arrived because he was staying at Stella’s, and kept my mind occupied with thoughts other than Belle.

I sighed and gazed back at the house from where my car was parked at the end of the driveway. I felt uneasy leaving, but the thing about this town was that once you arrived it was always going to be difficult to leave. It had a way of sucking you in, and before you realised it, months would have passed and you would still be here.

“Here,” Leah said proudly, pulling Dan’s surfboard into view, “I want you to have it.”

“No Leah, I can’t,” I replied, shaking my head.

“Drew, it’s okay. I know Dan would want you to have it.”

“No, I mean, you keep it here. That way I’ll have something to use when I come back and visit.”

Leah’s eyes widened,

“So you’ll be back?”

I nodded,

“Somehow I don’t think I can stay away forever.”

Leah let out a small laugh and came towards me, holding out her arms for a hug. I pulled her into me and spoke quietly into her ear,

“I still miss him.”

“Me too,” she replied, before pulling away.

At that moment there was a loud yelp and VJ came tearing out the front door of the house.

“Drew!” he called.

“What’s up mate?” I yelled back as ran across the front lawn.

“You can’t leave yet,” he said panting when he reached me.

“Sorry, little man. I have to,” I bent over and gave his blonde hair a ruffle.

“Quit it!” he exclaimed, reaching up with both hands and flattening his locks. “You’ll come back and visit, right?”

“Of course,” I replied, and with a small wave I went around the front of my car, opened the driver’s door and climbed in. I looked though the passenger’s window and saw Leah pull her arms around son and hold him tight. VJ struggled against his mother’s grip, but reluctantly gave in and began waving ferociously at me. I gave them both a broad smile and waved back.

I turned the keys in the ignition and pressed down hard on the clutch. The Ute rattled as the engine struggled to turn over. One thump of the accelerator under my foot and the car roared to life. I pulled on my seat belt before slowly backing out of the driveway. I gave my horn a single toot as Leah and VJ both waved as I disappeared down the street.

Looking in my rear vision mirror I saw Leah wipe away her tears and tackle her only son into a giant bear hug. My chest swelled with pride as I knew they were both going to be okay. I however was uncertain whether I could say the same for someone else I knew.

I chose to take the coastal route out of town as I craved one final look at the waves. I pulled the rattling engine to a halt in one of the parking bays facing the ocean. I turned the ignition off and opened my door. Stepping out of the car, I approached the wooden fence posts, leaning heavily on one.

The ocean was perfectly flat, only a slight ripple forming as the waves touched the shore before flowing back out to sea. Even if I wanted one final surf, the conditions made it impossible. I sighed and began to turn back to my car, however two spots caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. The pair were walking slowly along the shoreline, the gentle waves lapping at their feet. The guy was taller, with blonde hair and had his hands plunged deep into his pockets. As they came closer I could also make out the figure of his female partner. She was much smaller; her thin frame looked fragile next to his broad chest. Her brown hair swung easily at her shoulders, and in the absence of any breeze remained lifeless.

They slowly turned up the sandy pathway which lead away from the beach. The end of the path would put them in line with my parked vehicle. Although I wanted to approach, meet them halfway, I refrained.

As they came closer, their footsteps slowed further so I had time to take in each of their expressions. The girl’s face was flushed pink, her eyes still dark and bloodshot, as though she had been crying. The boy had a grim expression, his lips pursed in a straight line and brow furrowed. They stopped at the top of the path, just before the car park began. The guy stepped in and wrapped his arms around his girlfriend; she stood on her tiptoes and placed her hands around his neck.

She looked up from the hug and saw me standing there, her expression blank. I shifted from one foot to the other, and began to turn away from them, I was no longer needed.

However, as I pulled open my door a voice called out,


I stopped and looked over the roof of my car to see Belle walking rapidly towards me, Aden followed at a slower pace behind.

I walked around the front of my car to meet her.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hi,” she replied, almost shyly, “So you’re leaving?” she said, nodding in the direction of my Ute.

“Yep,” I said, “Things to do back home.”

“Well, it was good to see you,” she said conversationally as Aden reached her side.

I nodded, but didn’t return the compliment.

“Belle –” I began, but she cut me off,

“I told him,” she said simply. I noticed Aden reach down and take her hand. She glanced down at his hand in hers before turning back to me, “Thank you.”

“What are friends for?” I replied.

Belle’s lips turned up slightly as she forced a smile, for my benefit no doubt.

“See you ‘round,” Aden said, letting go of Belle’s hand and producing it for me to shake. I reached out my own and took hold of his.

“Yeah, see you man,” I replied. I then looked down at Belle, “I’ll be back.”

“I know,” she said stepping forward and reaching her arms around my neck for a hug. I pulled my own arms around her body and tightened my grip.

“Keep safe and get well,” I whispered, just loud enough so she was the only one that heard.

We both released our grips around each other and I took a step back towards my car.

“Have a safe trip,” Aden called from Belle’s side as I walked back around the front of the Ute and got into the driver’s seat. The engine roared once more as I kicked it into gear.

I backed out of my parking space and heaved the gear stick into first. I took one hand off the steering wheel momentarily to give the couple one final wave as I drove off along the coastal road. Glancing in my rear view mirror I saw Belle turn to Aden and give him a small kiss on the cheek before they intertwined their hands once more and walked away.

I focused my eyes on the road ahead and didn’t look back.



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