- the loneliest girl in the world
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 wasnt 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.
Im Holly, Holly said grinning, and extending a hand,
somehow sensing she was in polite company.
Um...Im 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
So whats it about?
A kid whos 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 havent got too far just yet.
Holly seemed excited and her eyes were gleaming. That sounds just
what Id like. I wish I could read it.
Its by an English lady. I thought I should read it if I
had to come here.
Holly nodded, and didnt seem to need to ask questions. She let
the pages of the book fall over her fingers dreamily.
After a minute Max said; I dont 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 dyou 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. Theres no way back, I looked. I was sure Id
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 werent here before the tide came in. How dyou
Well there is another way, of course, Hollys sudden
smile lit her face.
Max couldnt help but laugh. So are you going to show me
this mysterious route? he asked getting to his feet. Ive
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
Oh yes, but...Oh! Holly went red. Do you live here?
But...how? She faltered.
My mom and dad have sent me to stay with my grandmother for the
But I didnt 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 dont want to be here.
Nobody does, Holly muttered.
So youre 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 dont farm. She paused before
asking, Youre 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 dont fit into their schedules this summer. Mostly, Im
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. Its ok, I dont 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. Theyd use these coves. And, there
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
Does it go far back? Are there passages? he asked.
No. At least, there might have been, its 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
They emerged into the sunshine once more, on the other, smaller beach.
Then they heard Sams cry of recognition.
There she is! Nic! he yelled, running towards them. Arriving
he demanded, Whereve you been? Then, suspiciously
to Max, Who are you?
This is Max. Holly said. Hes 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?
Hes 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. Im Nic,
and this is my brother Sam. Hes only eight, she added, suddenly
Sam was scowling now. He didnt want another person to leave him
behind and treat him like a kid all the time. At least Holly was nice
and didnt 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
Yes, where have you been? Nic asked. Its not
fair to go off places and leave us behind.
Ive been on the other beach, rescuing Max. He was cut off
by the tide and couldnt get back. Holly couldnt help
showing off a little.
You didnt exactly rescue me, Max pointed out. I
could have just waited till the tide went out again.
But you said there wasnt 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,
Secret passages? Sam was suddenly eager. Where? Lets
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 didnt 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
Its not much of a secret passage. Just a cave that leads
somewhere, said Nic.
Its awesome, said Max. It was really neat to
find it. We have a secret beach
now, when the tides in no one will find us. We can all meet here
whenever we want.
Nic became more cheerful. You dont mind if we come here?
she asked. I suppose its your beach, after all.
No. Id get lonely on my own. Max said, and grinned.
I guess there must be lots more caves for us to find, Holly? There
must.be if these coves were used by smugglers.
Oh yes. there are caves. They always end up being disappointing
though. Theyre blocked up, or dont go anywhere, or you cant
get at them. Maybe well find secret passages used by the smugglers,
though. They wouldnt be secret if they were easy to find would
they? We just have to explore, thats all...
Im 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 doesnt want us
back just yet, Sam. She found that she was stifling a yawn herself.
Arent you tired Holly?
Holly shook her head.
It could be good to have a rest and a snack, said Max. Why
dont 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.
Wheres 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
Oh no! Sam wailed, kicking at the sand. My favourite
Nic frowned. Mums going to go mad, she warned.
Mad at you, too. Mum said you had to...
Oh come on, lets go! Nic didnt 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 cant
Take your other trainer off, youll 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. Its all right Sam, we just have
to get to the top.
Theres blood, Sam exclaimed, stumbling up the remaining
Oh, dont let him faint, said Nic.
Im 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.
Lets look, said Nic, when he reached her.
Its 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 wasnt.
Youve scraped your knee pretty badly, she said. Mums
going to want to know what you were doing.
Ill say I fell off my bike, said Sam.
Youd better, Nic said, darkly.
Shall we go on? Holly asked brightly. She was the only one
who didnt seem a bit tired. The others just nodded. Green
ribbon, now, she declared.
Did you put the ribbons here? Max was impressed. Id
gotten real lost until I found them.
Havent you visited your grandmother here before? Nic
No. I came to England for the first time two days ago.
Nic longed to ask more questions, but something about Maxs 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
Now what? asked Nic.
Follow me! Hollys 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 didnt 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
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.
Dead people! She couldnt 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
© Jayne Sharratt 2001
email: jayneasharratt at yahoo.co.uk
& Two & -Three
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