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Authors: Nicci Cloke

Someday Find Me

BOOK: Someday Find Me
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Nicci Cloke
Someday Find Me

DEDICATION

To Mum, Dad and Dan, with love

The sun always shines on our house. It shines all day every day, even when it’s raining and even when it’s dark. We stay up late at night and soak it up, talking for hours and hours about nothing at all. We like to hold hands when we’re finally falling asleep, because if we do, we’ll be together even in our dreams. When we go out we go to the park and walk in circles with people smiling and the sun shining and the world stretching out around us. We sit in the grass and make chains of flowers and then we lie down and look up at the clouds.

People say we’re made for each other and maybe they’re right. It seems like we’ve known each other for ever and life before seems dusty and faded, like old memories that belong to other people. Like we only really began when we found each other. We tell each other our secrets and our fears and everything that happens to us each day. When we’re at work we’re always thinking of each other. We finish each other’s sentences and speak each other’s thoughts. We’re not great minds but we always think alike.

We love to go out and catch a high and dance. We like to put the music up loud and dance together until the sun comes up. We dance on the furniture and we find each other’s fingers and we hold them tight.

We’ve both been in bad places but we don’t look back. Everything in the past has faded far into the shadows and when we think about everything ahead for us together we laugh and dance and sing. And then we look at each other and we smile and it’s just the two of us sitting in the sunshine looking forward.

There are certain rare moments when it is possible (or so it might seem) to leave your body behind. It might be in a moment of pure joy, with love in your heart or a new life in your arms. Or a moment of desperate sadness, with bad news in your ear or a loss weighing heavy on your soul. A moment of boundless passion, of uncontrollable rage, of icy shock. At these moments in these lives, one thing is true. They are moments when it is suddenly irrevocably clear that things can never be the same again; that a feeling or an action has changed the landscape of everything believed and lived in. It is a window out, but there is no way back in.

I watched myself that day, lying helpless on the bed. I watched them bend and lift me, pulling clothes over my cold body. I watched him watching too, from the corner of the room, a bag of my things in his hand. I watched his eyes meet mine, in a moment that stretched on for ever, in a moment when the light between us flickered and died, and then I watched him turn away, tears falling down his face.

‘I’m sorry,’ was all he could say.

I still remember the first night I met Saffy clear as day, like it was yesterday. It was at some knobhead’s party – someone Alice knew or someone she wanted to shag or someone she had shagged was having a bit of a do and she dragged me along and I said yes even though I really didn’t want to. It’s not like I don’t like parties but I’m not exactly the life and soul and I get a bit weird with new people I don’t know and it takes me a few drinks to warm up and have a giggle so it’s not exactly my idea of fun, going off to some posh git’s Notting Hill pad when I know Al’s gonna sack me off the minute this toff’s waved his cravat at her. But she really wanted to go and I love her to bits, as a mate I should stress, so I said yeah and I went along and to be fair to her she did buy me a little bottle of voddy as a thanks, and you gotta hand it to her, she knew how to get me out of a funk cos I was made up with that and swigged it all on the way there.

So I was a bit happier when we got to the place, feeling a bit more limber and not like I was going to spend the whole night crouched in corners like a total leper. Anyway, when we got in the house I was buzzing a bit and she slipped me a couple of lines in the downstairs bog, and I was thinking how I’d given her a bit of a rough time, poor old Al, and so I had a little dance with her and then I went and got her a drink out the kitchen, but I was right after all cos when I got back to the lounge with two
beers making my hands cold she was nowhere to be found. So I drank both the beers and stood at the side and watched people dance for a bit, and then I realised I still had Al’s wrap in my pocket so I did a bit more, knowing she wouldn’t mind, and secretly hoping someone would ask for a bit cos bag is quite useful like that in awkward social situations, and then I wondered what to do with myself and I thought I should probably bite the bullet and have a chat to someone instead of standing there like a right plum.

Yeah, that’s when I saw Saf the first time. I’d just stood up off my perch on the windowsill and was daddylonglegsing around looking for someone to chat to and not getting far, they were really twatty this lot and I’m easygoing me but even I didn’t want to chat to any of them. And there she was, leaning up against a bookcase and sipping at a drink instead of talking, up and down the cup was going to her lips, clink-clink-clink with the ice. And I don’t mean it in a wet way or anything but the room did stand still for real, just me and her looking at each other and that was it. We spent the whole night there leant up against the bookshelves, not really saying much just being together being special, her fiddling with the edge of my T-shirt and me twiddling a bit of her lovely yellow hair between my fingers. She was like a cartoon, Saf, big Bambi eyes and loads of big knotted beddish hair all falling down around her. Behind us the rest of the party were yelling out that they were our friends and that we’d never be alone again, and when I looked down at Saffy in her sequinny sparkly top and her little shorts and her biker boots, I did think, You know what, I reckon they might be right. About that last part anyway.

Those days rushed past in a big fizzy blur. I woke up every morning thinking of her little face and the way she laughed, how her eyes creased up and how she held on to her sides with her arms wrapped around herself in a hug, and anyone around would laugh too, because she was catching, she was like happiness
in a lovely little bottle, opened up and spilling out. I’d spend all day long wondering if I should call or text her and the best thing was I felt like maybe she was in a room somewhere else in the city, thinking just the exact same thing, just the two of us sat there with our phones in our hands, like the matching bookends my mum had when I was a kid, but with buildings in between us instead of books, just waiting to be stuck back together. I’d go to bed and the last thing I’d think about would be her, and the way her voice would speed up when she was excited, all the words all squeezed together as they flew past you like lovely silver birds. I’d spend all my time thinking about her, and all the time I was with her staring at her, soaking her up and drinking her in and trying to remember exactly how she looked and how she sounded and what she said and the way she stared back at me, because I knew after she left I’d never believe that last bit was true. But it was. She stared at me with her big eyes and I’d feel like I didn’t want to breathe or move a single muscle in case the spell was broken and she looked away. Sometimes she’d touch me, really gently, when I was in the middle of saying something stupid or trying and usually failing to be funny: she’d reach out and stroke my hand or touch my knee and it would be like all my fingers and all my toes wiggled and all the hairs on my arms jumped up and did a little dance.

Not long after we met, she had to go away for a week, on holiday with her family; her parents and her three sisters. She didn’t like her parents much, you could just tell, not by anything she said but just by the way her face changed the tiniest bit without her meaning it to or even noticing when she talked about them. It’s funny the things you see when you’re watching someone, really watching them. The smallest silly things that seem like these amazing secrets. Now I know that it’s the things you miss that fuck it all up. The big fuck-off-in-your-face things that you just don’t notice until it’s too late. Seeing is a funny thing like that – it’s not straightforward like you think when you’re a
kid. Sometimes the only things you see are the things you really really want to see.

That week was like the longest week ever invented. Every day seemed like a million days all shoved together and stretching on for ever. We sent messages when we could and I felt like those few words were the only place I could breathe, like I’d open a text on my phone or type one out and send it to her, and I’d take a big gasp of air because that was like popping your head up above the surface when you’re swimming deep down in a dark scary sea. I thought to myself that I’d never be without her again if I could help it, and I guess she must’ve felt the same because the day she came back she asked me to move in with her.

I felt like my head might pop right off with happiness. She said it all shy, like she thought I was going to say no, and in the end I didn’t say anything, I just picked her up and swung her round and round and it seemed like by the time we’d stopped spinning I’d packed up all my things and plonked myself right in her life, like I’d always been there.

Life with Saffy was the best thing in the whole world, like living in the kind of picture you drew when you were a kid of a little square house with smoke swirly-whirling out of the chimney and a girl stick-figure and a boy stick-figure holding hands in the garden. Not that we had a garden, or a house, just a basement flat near King’s Cross with a strip of concrete at the bottom of the stairs off the pavement, but you get the idea. It was like a made-up happy dream that could never be true, except that the very best thing about it was that it was. She pottered about all day in her pretty dresses and her big fluffy socks, making me tea and big fat sandwiches and sewing things and putting up pictures and pretty paper-chain things around the flat, and she’d do this really cute thing when she was doing the washing-up or putting things on a shelf and she’d blow all the blonde hair out of her eyes and it’d go up
whoosh
and then fall straight back down onto her spiky black lashes.

The whole place was full of things she’d drawn or painted or made and even though I could never let on how properly bowled over by them I was, because she got all embarrassed and shy, I’d sometimes end up just staring at them, just completely done in by them, at how someone I knew and talked to and woke up next to every day could do something so beautiful and special that made you feel something she wanted you to feel, or see a story she wanted to tell you. I didn’t know much about art and she tried to explain them to me properly sometimes but even I could see that there was something big behind them, something real.

Al was pretty knowing about all that stuff and once she came round and saw something Saf had left up to dry and she said it was the best thing she’d seen in a long time and Al wasn’t really one for false compliments, especially seeing as Saffy wasn’t even there to hear her.

And that was how every day was, just chatting and enjoying this tiny space, these three little rooms – bedroom bathroom living room slash kitchen – we lived in and filled up, and forgetting it had ever been any other way. I’d sneak up behind her all the time and give her these big cuddles and growl into her neck even though if I’m honest I’m not really someone who can carry off a growl, and she’d squeal and giggle and it seemed like we were just laughing all the time. I worked the same hours I’d always worked, which was a shedload, but looking back now it pretty much seems like I was never anywhere else, just floating on my Saffy cloud and spending hours and hours cuddling or dancing or chatting or walking through the park or lying in the grass and looking up at the sky.

You can’t cuddle in parks for ever and we all know that. Sooner or later it’s going to rain or get dark or you’re going to sit in dog poo or get stung by a bee. Even when the sun’s shining on you you’ll get burnt if you try and stay there too long. But with me and Saffy, it seemed like time stopped if we wanted it
to, and if we wanted to stay for ever and ever in the park staring up at the sky or lying flat on our backs on the floor in our lounge talking about the silliest things anyone could think of, we could.

 

I was thinking about those first weeks that night, sitting in my chair with the lappy in front of me, looking at the horses. Lovely smells were coming out of the kitchen, and lovely little Saffy singsong notes as she hummed away at the hob, stirring things and poking things and pouring things. One of her favourite things was cooking, sometimes for the three of us, me and her, and her best mate Quinton, who lived with us too, but most times just the two of us, all special even on weeknights. Quin had gone out, but he was always out, a proper social butterfly was what my mum would’ve called him.

I could hear her behind me at the counter, cooking away, singing a few lines of a song as she turned off the hob and opened the oven and took down plates and ladled stuff and spooned stuff and sprinkled stuff, and I thought to myself how home wasn’t a place, it was a person, and wherever that person was everything could feel okay and warm and magic. In she came then, my little Saffylicious, with a plate as big as her head held out in front of her and a big shiny smile on her lovely face. She shuffled the lappy off to one side and put the plate down and she said, ‘
Bon appétit
, baby,’ because she was good at everything Saffy, even speaking all kinds of languages. Maybe just French and Spanish, thinking about it, but those plus English is three and that’s a lot by anyone’s standards. And she skipped off to her corner of the sofa because I always sat in my chair to eat and then I’d come over to the sofa and snuggle her up until you could hardly see her for cushions and cuddle.

She turned the volume up on the telly as I got my fork and put a little bit of every yummy thing on the plate all squooshed up on it until it was almost too big to go in my mouth. I hadn’t been watching cos I’d been listening to the racing on the laptop
and so it had ended up being on the news, which me and Saf always tried to watch because you’re meant to when you’re a grown-up and living together but we always got bored five minutes in and put cartoons on or whatever girly
Next Best Really Ace Model
and
My Super Amazing Really Expensive Wedding
thing Saffy was into that day. I put the fork in my mouth, and my mouth was so full of food it was hard to chew, but it was so tasty it was okay to just swallow it in big lumps.

The lady on the news had on her serious this-isn’t-a-story-about-the-world’s-oldest-milkman-or-the-smallest-kittens-in-history kind of face. Saffy didn’t turn it over; we both put on our grown-up serious faces too and listened.

‘A university student has been reported as missing in the capital today. Fate Jones, nineteen-year-old daughter of businessman Lowen Jones, was last seen leaving a pub in the City on Tuesday evening. Police are treating the disappearance as suspicious, and urge residents who may have any information to come forward.’

They showed a picture of her on the screen then, with a police hotline number underneath in bold. We looked at it for a bit without saying anything, and I stopped trying to chew, even though there was mashed potato falling out between my lips, because it seemed rude somehow, a bit like accidentally skipping or whistling when there’s a funeral driving past you. She was really pretty, but a different kind of pretty from the kind Saffy was. Saffy made people look at her when she walked in the room and listen to every word she said. Fate was pretty like girls in magazines are pretty, a bit shiny, and hair that you knew would go swish whenever she moved and pink cheeks like she went for lots of walks and played netball and hockey. We waited for her face to go away but it seemed to stay there for ever, so after a
minute I slurped the potato off my chin and chomped up my mouthful so I could swallow it, and Saf hopped back in her seat and reached out with the clicker and changed the channel.

‘Yay!’ she goes. ‘
Top Idol
’s on!’

BOOK: Someday Find Me
13.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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