Author: Nesbit & Gibley
Our instructions were clear: exit the bus in Tolbridge, walk 11 miles south-east, turn left at the farmhouse and walk to the sea. Bring some beer, bring some board games but don’t tell Mum and Dad.
We convinced our parents we were all going to summer camps, so they were happy to pay for the journey. Following the notes, we exited the bus, made the route, and arrived. Sat on the clifftop, meters from a 300 foot drop, was the cottage.
It belonged to Agnes Howler’s parents. They had enough wealth to gold their belt buckles, silk their shoelaces; this was just one of their dozen homes. It had been years since they stayed, as they forever spent their time in the African sun. Because her parents hadn’t been to the cottage in years, there wasn’t any electricity, nor a single drop of fuel for the generator. There was also a problem with the plumbing, which meant no running water. But we accepted it for the price of an underage, unadulterated party. We cooked in the dark using camping stoves, we boiled water from the sea and we went to the toilet outside.
There were six of us in total. Imogen Tully, the Bradley brothers, Jim and Dick, Marcus Dahl, Agnes and myself. All of us friends from school. We spent days trekking the high cliffs and plodding along the thin beaches, collecting shells and picking up driftwood for the evening fires. We skipped stones and built sandcastles, like we were eight year olds.
On our last day, with the sun clamped behind the clouds and the infamous furious winds battering the clifftop, we remained indoors. We only realised then that we had three copies of Monopoly, two boxes of dominoes, and a pack of cards to entertain us. Although, being as close friends as we were, it wasn’t a problem. We drank the rest of the beer, cooked all of the sausages, and swapped stories from our childhood, shouting over each other as the strong winds contested our voices. We only braved the wrath outside to drain the beer we drank.
We all met up for a coffee last week. It’s been twenty years since our stay at the cottage and twenty years since we’ve spoken. Everyone has come so far. Imogen is a teacher and happily married to a marine biologist, Jim and Dick have their own furniture business, and Agnes is a successful author.
We only spoke of the future; where we all hoped to be in the next ten or twenty years, where we’d like to be living. Of course, it was all an effort to dodge the subject of Marcus, and our memories of him.
We had a laugh, though. Jim and Dick are still jokers and Agnes can really tell a story. We did our best to hold a smile, to let each other know we were all okay.
We never blamed ourselves for what happened. It was summer, and we were kids.