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Chapter no 9

Then She Was Gone

THEN

“What shall we do this summer?”

Theo, whose head was in Ellie’s lap, turned his face up to her and smiled. “Nothing,” he said. “Let’s do completely nothing.”

Ellie put down her paperback and rested her hand on Theo’s cheek. “No way,” she said. “I want to do everything. Everything that isn’t revising and learning and studying. I want to go paragliding. Shall we do that? Shall we go paragliding?”

“So your plan for the summer is basically to die?” Theo laughed. “You are so weird.”

She punched him gently against his cheek. “I am not weird. I am just ready to fly.”

“Literally?”

“Yes, literally. Oh, and Mum says we can use Grammy’s cottage for a few days if we want.”

Theo beamed at her. “Seriously? Like, just us?” “Or we can take some friends.”

“Or maybe just us?” He nodded, eagerly, playfully, and Ellie laughed. “Yeah, I guess.”

It was Saturday afternoon, May, a week before GCSEs. They were in Ellie’s bedroom, taking a break from revision. Outside the sun was shining. Teddy Bear the cat lay by their side and the air was full of pollen and hope. Ellie’s mum always said that May was like the Friday night of summer: all the good times lying ahead of you, bright and shiny and waiting to be lived. Ellie could feel it all calling to her from the other side of the dark tunnel of exams; she could feel the warm nights and the long days, the lightness of having nothing to do and

nowhere to be. She thought of all the things she could do once she’d finished this chapter of her life, all the books she could read and the picnics she could eat and the funfairs and shopping trips and holidays and parties. For a moment she felt breathless with it all; it overwhelmed her and made her stomach roll over and her heart dance.

“I cannot wait,” she said. “I cannot wait for it all to be over.”

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