The Long Way Back

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Chapter 20.

Nightfall finally befell us, the final moments of the sun's hopefulness disappeared from sight and we finally had to succumb to the fact that today was yet another day gone, another day we used up another grand portion of the already little food in our possession. Another day we survived.

We found a spot hidden from any wildlife beneath a hoard of trees and settled down for the night using our backpacks as pillows and each other’s bodies as our main source of heat.

I snuggled tight into Colby’s chest as he put his arm around my shoulders in a protective embrace.

All the food we ate today consisted of only a cereal bar each and a shared packet of crisps between the two of us. It was safe to say we were starving and the fact that we now had even less to eat tomorrow than we did today made me panic, how much longer could we actually do this before things really got dangerous?

2 days more, 3?

“Daisy, we’re gonna be fine, I promise.” Colby leant over to whisper in my ear, noticing my anxiety.

He began peppering kisses from the shell of my ear down my jaw slowly till he finally reached my lips. Hovering over me he slowly lowered his lips to mine.

He kissed me with a renewed passion over and over again, each kiss silently reassuring me that we were in this together, we would be okay.

He eventually pulled away with a smile, “better now?”
I giggled, “yeah...much.”

“I’m just scared we’re gonna run out of food and stuff.” I admitted, “We really don’t have much left now.”

“No we don’t. But that doesn’t mean we’re in trouble yet we have enough for tomorrow and we’ll probably find camp some time tomorrow anyway, if not after that I’m sure we can find something in the forest. I’m not unbelievably useless with a knife, maybe we could catch something or collect berries and stuff. We’ll be okay.”

“Okay, I trust you.” I thought about it and what he said was right, I’d watched enough nature programmes in my life to have somewhat of an idea how to survive in the wilderness. I hoped at least, this was reality not a movie, things weren’t guaranteed to have a happy ending for us.

We settled down beside each other surrounded by the silence of the forest.

I realised we honestly didn’t know that much about each other, despite having spent so much time together so I turned to Colby to fill the silence, “Tell me something you’ve never told anybody.” I said, sitting up and resting my chin on the palm of my hand.

He looked at me with cautious eyes before he finally breathed a sigh of defeat. “Okay, b-but just..give me time to tell it. I think I’m ready.”

I was suddenly apprehensive about what he was about to tell me but whatever it was but if he trusted me enough to tell me, I would listen.

He grabbed my hand in his shaking one, “So you know my dad?” I nodded.

“We’ll he’s not the best father in the world, he’s a shitshow to be honest, a complete mess. He’s always had an awful temper and when I was younger he always took it out on my mum, in little ways at first I would barely even notice. But, well...after a while it got really bad and um, almost every night mum would hide me in a room upstairs while she dealt with my dad’s temper.”

Colby looked close to tears so I shuffled us so he lay his head back on my chest and wrapped my arms tight around him in a reassuring embrace. He gazed up at me with wide teary eyes and a small appreciative smile.

“E-every night I could hear her screaming a-and I couldn’t do anything about it, I felt so... so weak and powerless to help but she locked the doors from the outside so I couldn’t get out.”

“One night he took it too far, Theo was just born and they were arguing about something to do with him. Dad was trying to get to our room, mum was holding him back as best she could but he was too drunk to care about any caution and shoved her down the stairs.” He sobbed. “She, she didn’t make it.”

He broke down into tears, a river flowed down his cheeks, I pulled him closer to me in some feeble attempt to hold him together, “oh Col I know you’ve probably been told it a million times and it doesn’t help at all, but I’m so so sorry, nobody deserves to lose their mother so young.”

“Thanks,” he whispered meekly, “you’re actually one of the only people that have actually said that to me, except my aunt and uncle, nobody really knows about my mum or her...passing. My grandparents on her side both died when she was little, I never met them and her older sister - my aunt, well she was all she had. She practically raised my mum and she’s the one who’s watching Theo while I'm away. She’s the only one I’d trust with him.”

“She sounds amazing.” I replied smiling gently, “If you don’t mind me asking, how is your dad not in prison?”

Colby looked down downheartedly, “Well the police couldn’t actually do anything about it because dad said it was an accident and there was no proof to say otherwise. All her bruises were just put down to falling down the stairs.”

“Omy that’s so awful.”

“Yup and I still have to live with the bastard.” Col said through clenched teeth. “He hasn’t stopped, the guilt just made everything worse. Half the things he says now’d make you think he was still in love with her. It’s his fucking fault she’s gone. He goes after me all the time and at this point I just let him, as long as he stays away from Theo I'm fine.”

“The minute he drinks himself to his grave I'm taking Teo and leaving, we’ll get our own place and Teo can actually have some semblance of a childhood.”

“Col! you can’t just let your dad use you as a punching bag, no matter how heroic you’re being for Theo. You need to go to the police or something, you’re worth just as much as Theo is. You deserve to get out of that house as much as he does.” I said with determination.

“You know you have me now right? If you ever need anything you and Theo can come to me, you can even stay over at mine whenever, or all the time until you move out.”

Colby finally cracked a smile. “Hah, I bet your brother would love the sleepovers ahah.” he laughed. “He’d try to kick my ass.”

I laughed, “He’s just a little protective still, he’ll get over it soon and see what a good guy you are. And trust me he’s a softy Teo would win him over in two seconds flat.”

“Well thank you. I’m sure Teo would love to spend as much time with you as he can, I think he likes you nearly as much as I do.” Col winked. “He told me on FaceTime he’d beat me up if I was ever a bad boyfriend.”

I blushed, “Awww he’s actually the sweetest little boy I’ve ever met.”

Col scoffed, “Yeah, he’s not the sweetest when he’s throwing a tantrum at seven in the morning to get out of going to school. Then he’s just a foghorn well accomplished at giving me a headache.”

We both burst out laughing.

“Thanks for telling me that.” I said when we had both calmed down. “For trusting me, I know it must’ve been a hard story to tell.”

“Yea, well I trust you Daisy.” Col smiled, lifting my hand up to his lips and peppering kisses over it gently.

“Well, when are you gonna tell me your story?” He asked, nudging me gently on the shoulder. “I know yours must be much more interesting than mine. All those countries you’ve been to…” he mused. “Your life sounds like a fairytale.”

“Yeah well all fairytales have bad parts too.” I said looking down. “How about I tell you my story tomorrow night, I think we’ve had enough tears for tonight.”

Colby looked alarmed but eventually nodded in agreement, “okay,”

We both once again looked to the stars and finding some home side by side under the sparkling fairy lights we fell asleep in each other’s embrace.
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