Emeralds and Pearls
by C. Spencer-Upton
Synopsis:I've spent seventeen years being a wallflower. Seventeen years, watching people live their lives, while mine stood still. I was happy for those years, nothing new happened because I never let it, every day was the same and predictable.
When my parents told me we were moving...to another state, I freaked.
I spent the first week, after the move, wishing I could move back. But then something changed. I became a someone, and to begin with I enjoyed it, but I soon learned, some things aren't always as they seem.
I have two lives now. Both of them are testing me, pushing me to my limits.
I was lost. I had no idea what was happening, or when I would stop. I felt like I was flying at the speed of light – only through the ocean – with a brick wall behind me and a steel bar across my stomach, pinning me too it. The only sound was the voice of the angel, keeping me calm. Telling me “It's okay. Don't panic Chel’s.” Dying didn't feel that bad. My eyes remained squeezed shut, and I continued to hold my breath, just in case there was still a chance that I'd make it.
I was quickly whipped round, and was shooting towards the surface, that tiny glimmer of hope latched onto my heart. Maybe I would make it, and all of this would be like a bad dream.
My head broke the surface water and I gasped the biggest breath I could. I was panting uncontrollably as I tried to regain my composure, oxygen never tasted so good. Or did it?
It was eerily quiet, there was no wind, no atmosphere and the sea air smelt damp and musty. I slowly tried to ease my eyes open, rubbing them with the heel of my hands. Peeking through my lashes I found darkness. I rubbed my eyes again and opened my eyes wider and still, it was just darkness.
My mind wandered back to the bar that barreled into my stomach, not long after the pain had subsided. It was still there, pushing me against the wall. I calmly moved my hands and placed them on the bar, preparing myself to break free. As I adjusted my hands on the surface I felt... skin.
My breath hitched in my throat, goose bumps bubbled up under my skin, out of fear. Who or what was it? I was unable to remove my hands, too scared to move.
“Are you okay?” The male voice asked from nowhere. It wasn't threatening or scary, in fact it made me feel calm. Calmer than I was a few seconds ago.
I took a deep breath, trying to keep my voice calm and steady. “Yes. I think so,” was all I could muster.
“Good. I need you to do me a favor.” His voice was closer to my ear than before, it made me jump slightly, surprised by its proximity.
I wriggled slightly, to see if I could break free. I couldn't. Instead, the grip tightened. “Sure, anything.” I wasn't in the greatest position to reject a favor.
“I want you to hold onto this.” The 'bar' removed itself from my stomach, and two hands carefully grabbed my hips, spinning me around and lightly pushing me against a hard, slimy surface. “Hold on here, I’ll be back in a sec'.”
My hands gripped tightly around something, like a protruding rock high above my head. The water splashed in the darkness a couple of times before silence fell again.
His voice in the darkness startled me. “Close your eyes. It'll sting if you keep them open.”
I gulped loudly and nodded, which was pointless because whoever was there, couldn't see me. I squeezed my eyes shut, clamping them together, before burying my head under my arm. My baggy shirt was clinging to my body and my hair was dripping a slow river down my back, I was getting colder by the second and wanted nothing more than to shower, bury myself in my pajamas and dive into bed.
The sound of something scraping against rock, brought me back to my current dilemma. There was a click and suddenly I could see light creeping in through my closed eyelids. I raised my head slowly at the sound of more scraping.
The water splashed a few more times, then two warm hands gripped my shivering body, around my waist. I instantly stilled. I felt my body being dragged away from the wall, reluctantly I released my grip and allowed whoever or whatever was holding me, to move me. The light became brighter the more we moved, but I was too scared to open them. I didn’t want to confront this nightmare.
I felt a stone-cold wall come in contact with my abdomen, shocking me yet again. The hands slowly turned me, so my back was pressed up against it. My breathing was slowly becoming more erratic, my heart was close to beating out my chest and I wanted nothing more than for all this to be over with.
“Slowly open your eyes. You don't want to make them sting.” The mystifying voice was so close, and yet beginning to sound so familiar, minus the echo.
Slowly but surely, I peeked through my lashes, sure enough the bright light stung as my eyes readjusted after seeing the darkness for so long. I tried again, opening gradually and allowing them to adjust before opening any wider. My vision was still slightly blurry, but eventually, everything came into focus. I skimmed over the cold, damp cave, fear gripping at my body. I noticed the ledge that I’d been gripping onto, it being the only thing that protruded out the walls, everywhere else was smooth and slimy. Then I noticed the light. It was perched on a shelf in the cave, like a little dugout. It was a cheap, plastic looking battery lantern that you'd probably buy a child, camping for the first time. Lastly, I looked at the person holding me.
My heart pummeled against my chest, as I took in the bare chest, the strong muscular arms and strong hands that were gripping tightly at my waist.
His bright smile had my breath catching in my throat. It had been so long since I’d seen it “How you feeling?”
“Cory?” the question a mere whisper as it left my lips
He chuckled. “In the flesh. Now seriously, how you feeling?”
My room was my safe haven and my prison by choice. It had everything that made it a home, but, outside the door was the realization that it wasn't, and I hated that reality. I missed my friends, the people who knew me and the people who accepted me.
My parents had moved us to Saco, Maine, just a week ago. I had hated the idea from the get go. I had screamed, shouted and protested until I was blue in the face. I should have realized from the start it wasn't up to me; my opinion wasn't required, needed or valued.
I closed one of my bedroom windows, shutting out the sea's crashing waves, the distant roar becoming almost mute. I stared out at the street and watched as the couple from next door made their way over to our house. From what I had heard, they had helped my dad with the decorating, and now we were all here and settled, my parents had invited them over for a thank you meal, which I declined to attend, instead opting for another night of misery by myself.
Climbing onto my bed and shuffling into the middle of the fluffy white comforter, propping myself up on the pillows behind me and grabbing my laptop, I logged into Facebook, checking out all the latest status updates. I felt strangely sick, reading about life going on without me. Holding my stomach didn't help the feeling go away, either.
I could hear my parents getting louder downstairs. It was a mixture of laughing, shouting and talking – clearly the bottles of wine they had bought were being consumed and their little party with the neighbors was at full swing, before even sitting down to eat. The telltale sign that dinner was being served echoed up the rickety wooden stairs, pots and pans banging and cutlery clanging, creating horrendous music to my ears.
Reluctantly, I grabbed my jacket and tiptoed downstairs, as quietly as possible, to try not to disturb the adults. Each step created a creak or a dull moan, something that had previously gone unnoticed. The sounds highlighted my escape and I didn't want them getting the impression that I was easing into my new life.
The house smelt like home cooking mixed with a hint of fresh paint. Tomatoes, herbs and mince. Lasagna, if I’m not mistaken.
Making my way outside, I sat on the steps that lead up to our side porch. I had to admit that, although I hated the idea of moving and technically still did, I did love this house. It was so clean and refreshing. The cladding on the outside was painted off-white, giving it an airy beach feel. There were gazillions of windows, okay, maybe not that many, but still quite a few. The inside had apparently had a major face-lift. Mom had mentioned that before, there were more patterns in the house than in a knitting shop.
Mom was a clean and contemporary person, dad had decorated the house in earthy browns and creams; lamps, cushions, and candles were everywhere, giving it a warm, cozy feel. The only rooms they had left to tackle were the kitchen and main bathroom. Rooms that could wait for a couple of months, while his funds increased.
I feared, the first time I walked into my room, that the whole earthy feeling would flow in there too, but surprisingly it didn't. Much like my old room, my dad had given me cool blue walls, a white wooden floor and a white ceiling.
The only thing we had to do was build all the furniture. Something I’d insisted on doing. Even though the room felt cold and a bit sterile when I first entered, I knew as soon as the big white four-poster bed was in place and my dressing table was constructed, it would start to feel homely, more like my home.
It was so beautifully peaceful outside. Closing my eyes, I rested my head against the white spindles of the handrail, listening contently to the ocean in the distance. I imagined what it would look like right now, staring out over the horizon, the waves crashing, the sun setting and the sky turning beautiful shades of oranges and reds.
It had only been ten minutes of bliss when a car, with music blaring out, with no regard for the peaceful neighborhood, drove up the street. It passed our house and didn't seem to go much further, before the engine cut out and the music died.
My eyes glanced over the grooves, the knots and general wear and tear on the wooden steps, so enthralled by its natural beauty I almost didn't notice company walking up the driveway, in my direction. I shuffled uncomfortably on the step, still trying to ignore them.
“Hi. You must be the new neighbor?”
Slightly agitated with my new company, I simply huffed.
“I take it my parents are still here? They left a note saying they were here.” Slowly he sat down at the opposite end of the step, creating as much space as possible between us, but still less than I required.
“I guess they are.” My first words to civilization in days. “Would you like me to get them so you can be on your way?”
“No, I’m in no rush.”
It was a shame, because I was hoping he would be.
“So, how do you like it here?”
I inwardly laughed to myself. Is he for real? Did I look happy to be here? If I was giving him that impression, I seriously needed to switch to bitch mode. Maybe then, he'd get the point.
“Listen, I don't mean to be rude, but, I’m kind of out here alone for a reason: to be alone,” I said, turning to face the neighbor kid properly for the first time since he'd walked over.
Sitting with me, was gorgeous in a nutshell: dark brown, spiky/messy hair, olive skin, and although I couldn't see them, he was obviously muscular under that sports jacket and white tank top.
Nervousness took hold and I started to chew on my bottom lip as my eyes gazed over neighbor kid, letting my eyes wander down long legs that were covered with his dark jeans.
“My name’s Cory.” The soothing tone of his voice snapped my eyes back to his face. A simple smile played on his lips, clearly pleased with himself from my unspoken compliment.
Panic engulfed me; I waited for my body to be pushed to the surface, but it didn't. I flailed around, trying to find something to grab onto, but what? I had no idea what. I couldn't see; I couldn't breathe. All I could do was hope and pray that I’d quickly resurface. I ran through my life, remembering my parents, remembering home; I regretted how I’d been with them these last few weeks. I regretted every second I took for granted. In this moment, I realized how precious every second of life was.
That's when the pain started. Excruciating pain spread through my lower body. It started in my toes, and painfully and slowly it crawled up my body, attacking every nerve ending and every cell. My whole body quietly screamed in pain. From all the flailing, I managed to trap my legs; I felt like my body was getting tangled in some kind of net, and no matter how much I tried to free myself, I just made it worse.
It felt like I’d been under water for seconds, minutes, hours – I wasn't sure. I needed to get out, I needed to breathe, I needed a hospital.
The pain continued to travel through my body. My back arched backwards of its own accord and it petrified me that I seemed to have no control over it. I wanted to scratch every inch of my skin, as the pain moved from feeling like thousands of stab wounds, to pins and needles, making my skin feel like it was physically itching.
I wanted to be back in my room, or to just be sitting with my parents having lunch around the dining room table – anything but the pain, torture, fear and cold water.
The pain began to subside and I thought that was it, I thought I was drowning. All I was missing was the bright, golden light.
A calming and soothing voice echoed within my head, sending reassuring messages that they were coming to get me and everything would be okay.
Residing to my fate, I gave in even wanting to fight; I felt my body sinking deeper into the abyss. It was then that I thought that death wasn't that scary. Death was peaceful, calming. Something that shouldn't be feared.
That’s when it struck me. A steel bar crashed against my stomach, winding me and forcing any remaining breath out of my lungs.
As I got my shoes back on, I got the feeling I wasn't alone, like I was being watched. Cautiously, I looked up. Dean was standing at the foot of the porch steps. Every good feeling that I'd gained from the night, vanished. “What are you doing here?” I stuttered.
“I was about to ask you the same thing.” His eyes stared at me, hard and angry.
My hands shook and my mouth went dry, I'd pushed him too far now and, contrary to earlier belief, I wasn't sure I would be happy taking the rap for tonight. “Freya and Marie wanted to come, they practically dragged me here,” not a lie, just a slightly twisted one.
I waited for him to respond, but he didn't for a few moments. “You're such a liar, you know that?” He went to grab my hand, but I moved out the way. I hoped someone would need the bathroom, like now, or at least for someone to come check that I was okay. “Don't play games Chelsea, we need to talk.” He marched up the steps and dragged me back down, down the driveway and pretty much chucked me into the passenger seat of his truck. “Don't even think about getting back out, I don't mind dragging you back here in front of the whole party,” he spat.
It had been my plan, but I didn't want to deal with the embarrassment.
When he started the truck, I panicked, no one knew where I was going, no one could help, and I was certain steam was coming out of his ears. I chastised myself for giving up the fight too easily, for not just letting the other two go, Freya knew everyone, she didn't need me, and lastly, for getting tipsy and dancing with everyone in ways I don't think I should have. If I could go back in time, I'd do what I originally planned to, curl into a ball in the corner.
His foot hit the pedal with too much force, we were speeding down the roads and swerving around vehicles, far too aggressively, I silently prayed that when we stopped, he'd have calmed down and would be at least rational and understandable.
As we drove up his street, I mentally thanked the Lord, until I noticed the house was dark and there were no cars parked outside, I'd been premature on the thank you.
Every Tear Is A Waterfall - Coldplay
Smells Like teen Spirit - Nirvana
Wake Me Up When September Ends - Greenday
La La La - Naughty Boy
Shy Girl - O-Town
Anklebiters - Paramore
Tunnel Vision - Justin Timberlake
Wild - Jessie J
I Love It - Icona Pop
Slow Down - Selena Gomez
Ever Enough - A Rocket To The Moon
About the Author
Born and raised in a small mining town in Derbyshire. Caroline (The C in 'C Spencer-Upton') has spent her adult years building a home and a future based on what's in front of her, and for a while, that was all she needed. Family, friends and the dog.
In 2012, that all changed. Her new love of reading became a drug. Living in a fantasy became her happy place to escape from reality. Her imagination came to life and ideas that had laid dormant for years, came rushing back to the surface and Emeralds And Pearls was conceived, her debut novel.
In October 2013, that new chapter in her life started and Emeralds And Pearls were introduced to the world.
Caroline works a normal 8-5 job which has nothing to do with literature. When people discover that she has written a novel, the look of shock on their faces is enough to bring a smug smile to her face, knowing that people underestimate her.
Writing is her escape and she loves reading about her fans enjoying something she loves.
This is the start of a new story of her own and can't wait for new readers to be a part of it.
- November 17- SBM Book Obsession- Excerpt / Spotlight
- November 17- Coffee, Books & Art- Excerpt / Spotlight
- November 17- Spiced Latte Reads- Playlist
- November 18- Vera Is Reading- Excerpt / Spotlight / Playlist
- November 18- Lulo Fangirl- Excerpt / Spotlight
- November 18- Deal Sharing Aunt- Excerpt / Spotlight
- November 18- The Caffeinated Book Nerd- Excerpt / Spotlight
- November 18- Breezy Book Blog- Review / Excerpt / Spotlight
- November 19- Jassy Books- Excerpt / Spotlight / Playlist
- November 19- Literature Litehouse- Excerpt / Spotlight
- November 19- Young Adult Book Madness- Review / Excerpt / Spotlight, Playlist
- November 19- Warrior Woman Winmill’s Blog- Review
- November 19- The Phantom Paragrapher- Review
- November 20- Book Geek- Playlist
- November 20- Books Need TLC- Review / Playlist
- November 21- Land of Stories and Pages- Review / Playlist
- November 21- Kris and Vik Book Therapy Cafe- Review