The Long Way Back

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Chapter 17

After several hours on that clammy, cramped coach, most of which passed by without my notice having slept them away on Colby’s shoulder we arrived.

The entrance to the forest park was marked with a large and carved wooden arch.

It was beautiful. Driving into the forest wasn’t anything like i imagined it to be, i was completely speechless.

The sun shone down upon the trees, covering them in a beautiful golden glow. Oranges, fiery red’s and browns were scattered everywhere creating a perfect autumnal landscape.

The forest lay upon a mountain and so trees rose all around us higher and higher until they were nothing but specs of mossy green far in the distance. Surprisingly there weren’t many people around, several clusters of two’s and three’s walking towards the forest were all i could see.

A picture perfect paradise it seemed to be, one free to everyone but whose beauty was hidden to most.

I was brought back from my admiration of the park by the supervising teacher’s instructions.


“Listen up everybody!” He called us to attention. “When we arrive at the cabins, everyone must wait outside to be given a room number which is YOUR room. This is the ONLY room you are to stay in and as usual girls are to stay away from boys rooms and vice versa okay? Okay.”

“Whatcha think so far daisy?” Colby whispered.

“It’s beautiful.” I replied honestly. “Told you it wouldn’t be so bad sweetheart.” He winked cheekily.

“Maybe it won't be after all.” I whispered under my breath. Colby chuckled.

At this point i’m not even surprised he heard, I’ve learnt I must be truly terrible at whispering.

The cabins we stopped at were also much fancier than i imagined, they were completely wooden, roofs and all made up of long logs laid together, A little balcony sat on the front of each cabin, meaning there must be at least two floors in each.

They created a cosy, rustic atmosphere I wasn't even scared to experience anymore. Well mostly wasn't scared.

It looked amazing.


I was so jumpy and fidgetey when we finally got off the bus I didn’t even know whether it was from nerves or excitement.

My mind was racing a mile a minute. Suddenly I flinched away when a hand came to rest on my lower back. “Don't worry daisy it’s just me.” Colby said gently. “Calm down, it’ll be fine, I promise.”

I surprised even myself when I accepted Colby’s comfort, I leant back into his chest and he wrapped his arms around the front of me.

Colby looked down at me with a warm smile.
I could definitely get used to this.

The teacher whose name I couldnt even remember started calling out our cabin numbers one by one, the cabins swapping in girl, boy, girl, boy order.

“....cabin 33. Emma cabin 36, Melanie cabin 36...”

I mentally cheered in sheer relief of knowing at least one person I was to share a cabin with for the next few days.

More names were called one by one until eventually Colby’s was called. “...Cabin 39.” Right beside mine.


He smirked down at me, with a mischievous expression.

The teacher went on and on until eventually all the cabins had been called and we were free to go explore them.

Me and Colby headed off to our cabins right beside each other before splitting up to set up. “See you soon Daisy.”

“Bye Col.” I laughed.

—————————

Emma was already in the cabin and the second I got through the door was bombarded by questions. “How?, wait ...What on earth happened between you and Colby?” “When did that happen?” She said grabbing me by the shoulders dramatically.


“Wow..” I laughed. “Give me a minute.”

“Sorry.” She apologised sitting down on the sofa. “just...what? I thought you were just friends because that was not JUST friendly behaviour!” She laughed, nearly exploding with excitement.

“We are just friends.” I blushed and sat down warily beside her, “nothing's happened or anything, we’re just close friends and well... I see him a lot. That’s all.” I shrugged.

“Sure you must be suuuper close friends.” She winked suggestively. “Nooo.” I whined, “we’re not like that i promise, please don't go on about it, we’re just friends.”

“Okay fine.” She chuckled, giving up. “I’ll leave you and your secrets alone.”

Me and Emma headed up the creaky, old wooden steps to the room we shared six other girls (that not through any fault of theirs I planned on completely avoiding while I was here.)

Me around that many gossiping girls was just asking for an anxiety attack and this week needed to go as smoothly as utterly possible without the drama my anxiety would add.

The room was entirely like the rest of the cabin; unbelievably rustic and cosy. It had a massive shaggy woolen carpet in the middle of the room and all of the walls were covered in paintings of wide wooden landscapes and adorable portraits of wildlife.

The balcony was connected to the end of the room with a large double door and opened up to the rest of the forest park.
We opened the doors wide and The wind flowed in freely and filled the room with a gentle autumn breeze.

The upstairs was one big room with four sets of bunk beds, one of which me and Emma quickly claimed as ours, me having the bottom her, the top.

“It’s beautiful here.” I breathed out in awe.

“Ino I told you you’d love it here.” Emma laughed.

“Ha ha.” I replied sarcastically. “Well thank you for forcing me to get on that coach anyway.” I laughed.

“Anytime.” She winked.

All of a sudden a knock on the cabin door stole our attention before one for girls I was still yet to meet called up, “Um, Mellie? Your brothers here.”

I walked down the steps and surely there Blake was leaning casually against the doorframe.

“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute Mel?”

“Sure, wanna go for a walk?”

“Yea, c’mon.” Blake said before we both headed out.

——————

“So...what’cha want to talk about?” I asked as we walked down the empty stone pathway that led around the cabins.

“Nothing much, I just wanted to check up on you and make sure you weren’t finding it too terrible.” He chuckled. “I know you didn't really want to come.” He looked over to me almost apologetically.

“Thanks. I’m fine though.” I shrugged, he looked at me with raised eyebrows and a look that seemed to say ‘but?...’.

“t’s just a bit overwhelming.” I admitted. “With so many people sharing cabins and stuff and I don’t really know any of them, well I don't know any of them to be fair.”

“Not that i'm planning on getting to know them.” I whispered under my breath.
Blake chuckled, “well no offence Mel but I’m sure they won’t mind much or at all if you just don't talk to them if you don't want to. I’ve met some of the girls in your cabin and well… girls like them normally never shut up. Honestly they must love the sound of their own voices. Trust me if you just let them keep talking they’ll probably not even notice you’re not one bit interested in what they're talking about.”

I laughed, “ That sounds like your talking from experience.”

Blake looked guilty, “well is it more rude to just ignore them all straight up or look like you’re listening?

“Hah hah I guess so.”

“Thanks anyway.” I said genuinely. Honestly, i was so great full for a brother like Blake. I knew for a fact most teenage boys wouldn’t prioritise checking up on their little sister all the time.

Maybe he just knew I really needed it.

“No problem I’ll just be in the cabin beside yours anyway if you ever need me.” Blake smiled.

“Oh, you're in Colby’s cabin?” I asked stupidly, realising only after how suspicious that sounded that i knew it was Colby’s and not my own brothers.

“Oh so you knew it was Colby’s and not mine?” Blake put his hand over his heart fakingly wounded.

“ummm… just remembered his name got called near mine?” i said more like a question than a statement.

“uh huh sure you did.” Blake said, clearly not convinced by my more than horrible lying.

“So what's actually going on with you and Colby then?” he asked, “you two looked pretty cosy earlier on the coach.”

“Nothing we’re...we’re just friends.”

“Yeah well ‘just friends’ or not I’m gonna talk to him when I get back to the cabin. I’ll kick his ass if he tries to pull anything with my little sister.”

“No, no, no, don't scare him away yet.” I said half seriously, i didn't think Blake could really scare Colby very much even if he did try in all honesty. “Anyway, it’s not like we’re boyfriend- girlfriend or anything.”


“Uh huh, we'll sure looks like you are, maybe just without the title.” Blake said, still frowning.

“Thanks for worrying but don't worry about Colby, he's a really good guy.” I smiled as I thought about it.


“Urrrgh, you’re getting all mushy gushy already about him. I cant watch it.” He said dramatically.

“Haha very funny well I’ll see you later,” I said as we had done a look around the cabins and were already back in front of ours.

“Bye Mel.” He replied, “see you later. I'll be watching for any funny business between you two.” He warned.



________________________


“Don’t squish it that much Daisy. “ Col laughed. “You’re making it go everywhere.”

“What the heck else should I do? It's already everywhere.” I giggled. “C’mere.” Col beckoned me over. “I’ll help” I shuffled along the bench a little to get closer to Colby.

“Aww.” Col cooed teasing me. “You’re all sticky.” He brought his hand to my face and gently using his thumb wiped off all the melted marshmallow from my cheeks. I leant into Colby’s palm completely disregarding the sticky marshmallows all over me and smiled up at him.

“Huh huh hum.” Blake coughed very deliberately, ending our moment. Colby just chuckled before leaning in to whisper coyly in my ear.

“I have something I need to ask you tomorrow Daisy.” He drew back casually as though he hadn't just left my mind reeling.

I looked away blushing and my eye caught Blake sitting across from us who had a permanent scowl etched upon his face.

Whoops…

I tried my best to ignore the lingering attention from so many people who now had my heart racing from so much unwelcome attention.

I distracted myself by making more s’mores, trying yet failing at not getting marshmallows all over me, much to Colby’s amusement.

Needless to say the rest of the first night here was full of laughter and I was truly content around so many people for the first time in a long time.
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