Authors: Rebecca Sherwin
you find the girl who makes your heart
a new rhythm, the girl who becomes your sun,
moon and all the stars in the sky, don’t ever let her go.
“Here you go, Dad.”
“Ah, gracias, querida.”
I hand my dad a glass of whiskey and sit next to him
on the sofa, leaning my head on his shoulder. It’s Christmas night, and we’re
settled down in front of the TV. I stare out at the harbour covered in a thick
layer of snow and the ocean in the near distance, the waves crashing against
the beach, lit by the moon and a few street lights. It feels good to be home.
After a tough term at university, I caught the train home with my brother Jonas
and childhood best friend, Deacon in time to spend the holidays with my
I tear my gaze away from the tranquillity of outside
and look at the family I miss so much. My sister, Jade is cuddled up with her
husband Steve and they’re both resting their hands on her swollen stomach.
She’s due to give birth in February but she looks like she’s just about ready
to pop. My mum is snuggled up under a blanket in her armchair by the window,
sleeping after the mammoth Christmas dinner she prepared for us all today.
“Hey, Jen?” Jonas calls as he comes in the room from
sneaking a cigarette outside, “I’m going to The Duck if you wanna come?
Everyone will be there.”
I contemplate staying in and drinking some more
Baileys in front of the open fire and watching whatever panel show Dad has put
on. But I know I won’t.
I hand Dad my drink, knowing full well he’ll drink
it and head out to the front door to wrap myself up. Winters are harsh near the
sea; the breeze is bitter and the moisture from the sea air settles on the
snowless patches of ground in a sheet of ice.
I pull a jumper over my head, then my hat and coat,
pulling the zip right up. Jonas hands me my new scarf and glove set. We all got
one from Great-Aunt Olivia; lovely garments, but not something two uni-students
and a mother-to-be would put on their Christmas list. I’m grateful none the
less and snuggle into the scarf as Jonas opens the front door. The cold hits me
like a tonne of frozen bricks and I catch my breath. Stick with the Baileys and
“You alright, sis?” Jonas calls, waiting
for me at the end of the path.
I nod, unable to speak past my lips freezing up and
the involuntary shivers wracking my body. I take the deepest breath I can, grab
on to the door handle and step on to the floor outside. I catch up with Jonas
as we walk along the harbour to The Duck on the Harbour.
The pub is empty apart from the couple in the corner
we’re on our way to meet. Coming from a town as small as Folquay, everyone
knows everyone and my siblings and I were lucky to find the Reid’s. There were
five of us, although with Jade being married and pregnant she isn’t interested
in hanging out any more. So now there are four of us, who all grew up together:
Deacon who’s a few months older than me, and Bradley who is the same age as Jonas.
“Hey!” Bradley shouts as we enter the pub, “The
gang’s all here!”
I shiver as the warmth of the fire by the bar hits
me, and wave to Sue the landlady. I make a beeline for the amber warmth, but
before I can get close enough to thaw out my face, Bradley jumps up and wraps
me in his arms. He’s warm and drunk and I hug him back, realising how much I’ve
missed him in the six months since we all met up last.
“Check you out.” He holds me at arm’s length and
examines me, “Look at baby Jenna, all grown up.”
I roll my eyes and walk towards the table, taking my
coat off on the way. Deacon slips out of the booth and pulls me into him,
squeezing tightly. I sag into his tall, lean body and accept the warmth he’s
sharing with me.
“Hey, buddy.” He says, letting go and putting his
hands on my cheeks, “I know you don’t like the cold. It’s not this bad in
London. At least the buildings block the wind.”
I agree and shiver again, warm and relaxed. I slide
in the booth and Deacon follows. Jonas and Bradley head to the bar, and I
realise I’ve forgotten my purse. Hell, who am I kidding? They never let me pay
for anything; I hadn’t needed to remember my purse.
One drink and I’ll go
“So, are you enjoying being back, Red?”
I’ve called Deacon ‘Red’ since I first
started talking; I couldn’t say ‘Deacon’ when I was little - Red just stuck and
I think he’ll have that pet name forever.
“I don’t know. I was enjoying the city. There’s no
night life here. Just open fires, fishermen and beer.”
He stretches, putting his arm on the back of the
seat behind me.
“I love coming back. It’s relaxing.”
“Mm hmm.” He smiles, and strokes the back of my hair
like he always does. It sends shivers down my spine and I’m frozen in one spot,
afraid to move in case he stops.
“I got beers and vodka.” Jonas interrupts, carrying
trays of beer and vodka shots.
He puts the tray down.
“I don’t like pints, J.”
He laughs, “Which is why, little sis, I got you two
halves. You can keep up and keep your femininity.”
“What femininity?” Brad erupts into a bellowing
laugh opposite me, “I remember when baby Jen used to run rings around us with a
This is what I love. Being at home, with the people
I’ve known my whole life. I love uni; I’m studying business management so I can
open up my own cake business when I graduate. Deacon is in most of my classes,
we’re pretty much inseparable but nothing beats coming back home.
“Okay, vodka first.” Deacon announces and I watch
his lips as the words roll off his tongue. I quickly grab the plastic shot cup
of vodka and we all slam them at the same time. I make quick work of my beer,
preparing to go home.
“Oh no you don’t.” Brad challenges as I stand and
prepare to wrap myself back up, “You so grown up? Prove it.”
“I need to go home,” I slur, swaying as I protest,
“I have to bake a cake for Mum in the morning.”
It’s late. Really late, and Sue is waiting to close
up. But it’s down season so she’s happy so sit behind the bar watching the TV
and take in as much money as she can get.
“I got a trick to show you, Jen,” Bradley
grins and wiggles his eyebrows, “I can pin a glass of water on a wall.”
“Fuck off.” I roll my eyes and shake my head, my
choice of language earning disapproving looks from Jonas and Bradley.
Deacon is used to my expanded vocabulary since
discovering what life outside Folquay or Grandpa’s house in Spain is like and
is sat smirking, his fingers returning to the back of my neck.
“Come on, I’m twenty years old, get over it. Show us
the trick, smart arse.”
“Sue?” Bradley calls to the landlady, “A glass of water
and a drawing pin please.”
She slides it to our end of the bar, with a pin and
Bradley places the glass on the wall next to me. I squint, wondering how he’s
going to make this trick work. How can you pin a glass?
He fiddles with the pin as he presses it to the wall,
but it slips from his fingers and lands by his feet.
“Shit,” He curses, sighing in exasperation, “Jen,
get that please. I’ve got the glass in position.”
Jonas and Deacon are watching intently; obviously he
hasn’t shown them yet either. I lean down from the booth and pick up the pin.
At exactly the same time that Bradley pulls the glass from the wall and I’m hit
with half a pint of cold water.
“You idiot!” I shout, shoving him in the chest,
embarrassed for being stupid enough to fall for it.
Jonas and Bradley erupt into a fit of drunken
laughter while I shake as much water from me as possible.
“If I die of pneumonia, I’ll haunt you.”
He raises his hands in defence, laughing so hard
tears stream from his eyes. Deacon’s face is dead straight, his brows furrowed
under the blond hair that flops across his forehead and I’m grateful he’s on my
side, although I can see the funny side of the trick. If it was summer. Or at
least not snowing.
“I think it’s time to head home.” Jonas looks at his
watch and then at me as I wring out my hair.
“You guys go.” I say shaking my head, “I’m gonna sit
by the fire until I dry off.”
Jonas and Bradley prepare to leave, knowing Deacon
will stay with me. Deacon is always there for me when I need him. He’s often
left looking after me when the boys bail. He’s like my own personal Superman.
Bradley and Jonas continue to chuckle to themselves as they get ready to go
“Make sure she gets home, Deac.”
He ignores them, more pissed off with the trick than
I am, but he leans over and puts his coat on the floor in front of the fire for
me to sit on. I sit as close as I can to dry my hair off, shivering as the icy
air from outside gushes in as the door closes slowly behind the boys.
“Sue, can we have two cocoas please? When she’s dry
“Sure thing, Deac. Glad someone stayed with her.
It’s like an ice death-trap out there.”
I can tell by her walking off and rubbing her
backside that she obviously fell on it during her last cigarette break. I laugh
and turn back to the fire. Deacon places my cup of hot chocolate and
marshmallows on the floor, and sits cross-legged next to me with his.
“That was a shit trick. Dry off and I’ll walk you
“You wanna sit on the sea front for a bit?” Deacon
asks as we’re walking home.
“Seriously, Red? It’s like two in the morning.”
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” He teases.
“I think I left it down the road with my frost
He shakes his head, smiling.
“Come on then. But just for a bit.”
Even in the darkness, I can see his smile, and I
mirror it before I realise. I link my arm in his and we head to the beach - a
handy five minute walk in the summer, an agonisingly cold voyage in the early
hours of Boxing Day.
“Even in the cold, it’s beautiful out here.” I whisper
looking out as the violent waves swirl around each other in their battle to hit
Deacon snorts, “So London hasn’t got to you at all,
living there for the last two years?”
I shrug. It has, but I’m homesick most of the time; I
love being back the two or three times a year that I can get here.
I realise Deacon is looking at me, and I frown,
“I’m going to do something,” He clears his throat,
“If you don’t like it, forget it ever happened, okay?”
I nod. I haven’t got a clue what he’s talking about,
but I agree anyway. He presses his hands to my face like he did in the pub and
I’m grateful again for the warmth. I close my eyes allowing the warmth to
spread and wonder how I’ve got half a sheep knitted around my hands and they’re
still numb as anything, yet his are –
Whoa. Deacon’s lips touch mine, so gently I’m not
sure if it’s real. I want to look but I’m stunned and can't open my eyes. He presses
his mouth to mine with a little more force, asking for my permission. I pull my
frozen hands out from my coat pocket and wrap my arms around his neck; the heat
radiates off Deacon as he takes a step forward and our bodies touch. I’ve never
admitted to myself that I’m attracted to the man who holds my hair back when
I’m drunkenly sick everywhere, who’s held me when I’ve cried over boys; the
same man who dried my hair for me when I had a broken wrist a few months back
and couldn't do it myself. But now as his lips caress mine, and he licks along
my bottom lip asking for my approval to deepen our embrace, I can admit that
I’m attracted to my best friend. He smells like his favourite shower gel and
pure masculinity. I’m melting, scorching hot, sitting by the sea in the snow.
An hour later, we’re still by the sea, Deacon’s arm
around my shoulder, as I lean into him and link my fingers with his. I don’t
know what happened; we haven’t said anything since we kissed. But something’s
changed, and I don’t think our friendship will be the same. All I can think
about is the feel of his lips on mine, the sound of his ragged breath as he
held me to him with his hands on my lower back.
“What are you going to do when you graduate?” I ask
him, braving the subject. He never seems to know what he wants to do, but I‘m
wondering if he thinks we’ll have a future together.
“I’m gonna go travelling for a while, I think. Come
back and open up my own place in the city.”
“Yeah. I like it there.”
I nod, feeling a stab of pain in my chest.
“I don’t even need to ask you, do I?”
“Why don’t you?” I ask, taking the force of another
“Come on, you're the biggest country bumpkin I know.
My bet is you’ll be back here, and you’ll open up a bakery in the town.”