HOLLY - the loneliest girl in the world
Jayne Sharratt


On the other beach, at the other side of the rocks, a boy was sat under the cliffs as far away from the sea as he could possibly get. He wore beige trousers and a check shirt. A baseball cap was pulled far over his eyes. He had a book in his hands, but he wasn’t reading it. He looked miserable. When he saw Holly he yelled and threw the book in the air.
“Hi,” she said, and seated herself down next to him.
“Hey,” he said. He sounded confused, but he had been taught to always be polite.
“I’m Holly,” Holly said grinning, and extending a hand, somehow sensing she was in polite company.
“Um...I’m Max,” he said, taking the offered hand. They both felt unsure what to do next, and made a feeble attempt at shaking hands before letting go with relief.
“Is it a good book?” Holly picked it up from where it had fallen.
“Kind of.”
“So what’s it about?”
“A kid who’s an orphan and brought up by some pretty horrible relations . Then, he finds out he has magical powers, so he gets to escape and have adventures. I haven’t got too far just yet.”
Holly seemed excited and her eyes were gleaming. “That sounds just what I’d like. I wish I could read it.”
“It’s by an English lady. I thought I should read it if I had to come here.”
Holly nodded, and didn’t seem to need to ask questions. She let the pages of the book fall over her fingers dreamily.
After a minute Max said; “I don’t mean to be rude but...”
“Yes?” Holly blushed a little beneath her freckles.
“Who are you?”
“Holly Denver,” she repeated, smiling kindly as if she thought he was a little slow.
“Yeah but...where d’you come from?”
“The cliff path, down the steps.”
“The cliff path, at the other side of those rocks?”
“Well, I came down those steps to the beach, and I came around the rocks to this beach to read my book, but then the tide came in and I got cut off. There’s no way back, I looked. I was sure I’d have to wait above the high tide line until it went out again.”
“Yes,” Holly said again. She was still holding the book, hugging it to her chest.
“You weren’t here before the tide came in. How d’you get through?”

“Well there is another way, of course,” Holly’s sudden smile lit her face.
Max couldn’t help but laugh. “So are you going to show me this mysterious route?” he asked getting to his feet. “I’ve pretty much bored of this view here.” He was quite a bit taller than Holly, his eyes were brown, and so was his skin from the sun. The hair beneath the cap was dark, and like Holly his smile would generally get him out of most trouble.
Holly picked herself up too.
“Of course, this is private property, you know,” Max pointed out.
“Oh yes, but...Oh!” Holly went red. “Do you live here?”
Max nodded.
“” She faltered.
“My mom and dad have sent me to stay with my grandmother for the summer.”
“But I didn’t know!”
“How could you? I only arrived two days ago.”
“Yes, but I usually know, I usually know about things.” Holly sounded upset. They continued to make their way back towards the rocks.
“If its any consolation I don’t want to be here.”
“Nobody does,” Holly muttered.
“So you’re from the village?” Max tried, wanting to make her smile again.
She nodded. “My family live in an old farm house further up the lane from the village. But they don’t farm.” She paused before asking, “You’re American?”
“Yes. But my mom was English. She lives in Hollywood now.”
“Is that where you live?
“Sometimes. Sometimes I live with my dad in New York, though. But I don’t fit into their schedule’s this summer. Mostly, I’m at school. So, you gonna show me your magic trick then?”
“How you got here?”
“Oh yeah. My friends are here too, at the other side.”
Max shrugged. “It’s ok, I don’t mind you being here. New friends would be cool.”
Holly got suddenly excited again. “You know, in the olden days, there used to be smugglers here. They’d use these coves. And, there were caves...”
“Caves!” repeated Holly with relish. Swiftly she pulled back the fronds of a tree to reveal a small gap in the rock face. Max followed Holly inside.
“Does it go far back? Are there passages?” he asked.
“No. At least, there might have been, it’s all blocked up at the back now. But this passage just goes far enough along the rock face...” She pulled him through the darkness by the sleeve of his shirt, “To bring you out on the sand at the other side of
the rocks.”
They emerged into the sunshine once more, on the other, smaller beach. Then they heard Sam’s cry of recognition.
“There she is! Nic!” he yelled, running towards them. Arriving he demanded, “Where’ve you been?” Then, suspiciously to Max, “Who are you?”
“This is Max.” Holly said. “He’s from America.”
“America!” exclaimed Sam.
“America?” repeated Nic, running up, eyes shining at the sound of a more civilised place than the Devonshire countryside. “What are you doing here?”
“He’s spending the summer with his grandma. She lives in the big house in the woods here,” Holly explained before Max could. She was scowling, trying to signal to them, ‘be nice’.
Nic did not need to be told to be nice. She liked boys with brown eyes who spoke like movie stars and lived in mansions. “How old are you?” she asked.
“Oh, same age as me!” Nic was pleased. “ I’m Nic, and this is my brother Sam. He’s only eight,” she added, suddenly remembering.
Sam was scowling now. He didn’t want another person to leave him behind and treat him like a kid all the time. At least Holly was nice and didn’t forget he was there, but now even she was paying all her attention to this new boy who seemed to have suddenly appeared from the rock face.
“Where have you been?” Sam asked again. “We looked everywhere for you.”
“Yes, where have you been?” Nic asked. “It’s not fair to go off places and leave us behind.”
“I’ve been on the other beach, rescuing Max. He was cut off by the tide and couldn’t get back.” Holly couldn’t help showing off a little.
“You didn’t exactly rescue me,” Max pointed out. “I could have just waited till the tide went out again.”
“But you said there wasn’t a way through when the tide was in,” Nic pointed out.
“Well Holly seems to have been here exploring a whole lot more than any of us. She found her own secret routes through these rocks,” said Max.
“Secret passages?” Sam was suddenly eager. “Where? Let’s see!”
Max showed them the opening in the rock face which was hidden by another rock jutting out in front of it like a curtain.
“But why didn’t you tell us?” Nic almost wailed. “Mind, Sam, let me see!”
Holly and Max waited laughing, while Sam and Nic jostled to see inside the cave, and be the first to go through to the other side. In a minute they reappeared.
“It’s not much of a secret passage. Just a cave that leads somewhere,” said Nic.
“It’s awesome,” said Max. “It was really neat to find it. We have a secret beach
now, when the tide’s in no one will find us. We can all meet here whenever we want.”
Nic became more cheerful. “You don’t mind if we come here?” she asked. “I suppose it’s your beach, after all.”
“No. I’d get lonely on my own.” Max said, and grinned. “I guess there must be lots more caves for us to find, Holly? There if these coves were used by smugglers.”
“Oh yes. there are caves. They always end up being disappointing though. They’re blocked up, or don’t go anywhere, or you can’t get at them. Maybe we’ll find secret passages used by the smugglers, though. They wouldn’t be secret if they were easy to find would they? We just have to explore, that’s all...”
“I’m tired, and hungry. Nic!” Sam was feeling weary just talking about more exploring.
Nic looked at her watch. It did seem a long time since they had set off, but it was only half past four. “Mum doesn’t want us back just yet, Sam.” She found that she was stifling a yawn herself. “Aren’t you tired Holly?”
Holly shook her head.
“It could be good to have a rest and a snack,” said Max. “Why don’t you come back to the house with me?”
They all thought this was a good idea and made their way towards the steps. Nic had already fastened her sandals on again.
“Where’s my other trainer?” asked Sam, looking about him. In his eagerness to get in the sea, he had flung them barely clear of the waves. They all scanned the shore but the only sign was a speck of white bobbing in the waves too far out for them to wade in and get it.
“Oh no!” Sam wailed, kicking at the sand. “My favourite trainers....”
Nic frowned. “Mum’s going to go mad,” she warned.
“Mad at you, too. Mum said you had to...”
“Oh come on, let’s go!” Nic didn’t let him finish. She was already marching away, and had begun to climb the steps back up the cliff path.
“Wait for me!” Sam yelled. “What can I do? I can’t hop!”
“Take your other trainer off, you’ll just have to go in your socks,” said Holly helpfully. “Here, lean on me a minute.”
“And watch where you put your feet,” added Max, pulling Sam along with them.
Nic was already waiting at the top of the cliff when Sam slipped. Holly managed to grab him before he fell too far.
“Yowww! Owww!” He yelled, trying hard not to cry.
“Sam! Are you OK? What are you doing?” Nic called out from above, straining to see.
Max pulled Sam to his feet. “It’s all right Sam, we just have to get to the top.”
“There’s blood,” Sam exclaimed, stumbling up the remaining steps.

“Oh, don’t let him faint,” said Nic.
“I’m not going to faint!” Sam climbed faster, not wanting to look down. The climb up seemed so much longer, with so much further to fall, than it had on the way down.
“Let’s look,” said Nic, when he reached her.
“It’s only a scrape,” he said, feeling stronger and braver now he was on more solid ground. He hoped Holly and Max would be impressed. Nic apparently wasn’t.
“You’ve scraped your knee pretty badly,” she said. “Mum’s going to want to know what you were doing.”
“I’ll say I fell off my bike,” said Sam.
“You’d better,” Nic said, darkly.
“Shall we go on?” Holly asked brightly. She was the only one who didn’t seem a bit tired. The others just nodded. “Green ribbon, now,” she declared.
“Did you put the ribbons here?” Max was impressed. “I’d gotten real lost until I found them.”
“Haven’t you visited your grandmother here before?” Nic asked curiously.
“No. I came to England for the first time two days ago.”
Nic longed to ask more questions, but something about Max’s voice stopped her. They walked through the woods in a line, in silence, except when Sam bumped into the person ahead of him and nearly sent them all reeling over like dominoes, because he was too busy watching where he put his feet to look where he was going. After they had been walking a while Holly told them to stop. She disappeared through a gap in a large rhododendron.
“Now what?” asked Nic.
“Follow me!” Holly’s voice was insistent and excited from behind the wall of leaves.
Holly was stood in a small clearing. There was a small lake, mainly covered in reeds and pond weed, with only the occasional glimpse of inky water. At the other side steps led from the lake to a tall, white, round building, with columns all the way around it and a domed roof. It was invisible from the outside world, completely hidden by wood and bushes, and not showing at all above the line of the trees. Even Nic felt a thrill of excitement, and Sam forgot about his hurting knee.
“What is it?” Nic asked, but didn’t notice that nobody answered. They all made their own way around the lake and up the marble steps. They hesitated on the threshold of the building, where heavy black doors stood open, but as Holly showed no fear, they followed her inside.
Their eyes took a while to adjust to the dim light. Max kicked away the skeletons of long dead leaves which had blown into the room over many autumns and winters, to reveal cold blue marble. Then he let his eyes trail over the inscriptions on the smooth walls.
“Look,” he clutched at Nics’ hand, as it was nearest.
She could make out names, and dates. She let the information sink in. She gasped.
“Dead people!” She couldn’t help yelling.
Then she screamed again, and there were other shouts too. There was a creaking first, too quiet to be noticed, and then a loud and horrible slamming sound. The doors had closed. They were stood alone in the complete darkness.

© Jayne Sharratt 2001
email: jayneasharratt at

Chapter Four

Chapter One & Two & -Three

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