Corina Karakasi 2018
Skylarking Creative Response
Even under a light cotton sheet I was radiating heat like a brick under the hot summer sun. The hot and cold chills were running up and down my body, like waves crushing me little by little on rocks. I took the cup from the bedside table and brought it to my lips, they were dry and chapped, after I took a small sip I placed it back and sank into my pillow. Everything hurt, but coughing was the worst part of it al. The coughs were coming thick and fast now, it was like cold water was pushing me below the surface and I was struggling to get enough air. Drowning. It felt like I was drowning, and I couldn’t go anywhere but deeper in the water.
It was hot in the room, the sun streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows; for a moment it felt like I was back. Back to my home. Back with my mother in the kitchen while we prepared her mouthwatering breads that tasted sweet. But all I tasted now was bitter medicine, that did me no good, I was getting sicker by the day and Thomas wouldn’t allow himself to believe that we were close to our finish line. I cannot blame him, he’s been nothing but a good husband to me- looking after us from day one. Who would have thought that I, Kate Gilbert, would settle and start a family; maybe mother was right, I became a proper lady after all.
Throughout the day Thomas would come and make sure I’m okay, when my temperature was too high he would call the doctor. The last time he called him it was night time, the doctor advised him that it would be best to assure everyone had said their goodbyes. I’d never seen him so angry, but I was fine with it, I made my peace with dying. My head was heavy and my throat dry but I could not get up at this point, not even for a sip of water. I opened my eyes but everything was blurry. Sharp pain lanced through my head and colorful spots flashed in front of my eyes, it felt like my whole body had been beaten and every movement caused some muscle or bone to ache. I stayed still, it was not worth moving.
“Kate,” said a voice but I didn’t move “don’t tell me that you fell asleep again.”
The voice was sweet, I’ve heard it before- it felt like a melody you get stuck in your head and can never forget but I couldn’t identify who it belonged to.
“Well up you go! Kate Gilbert, I’m talking to you.” someone wrapped their hands around my arms and started shaking me gently.
“What- What is it?” I asked and sat up from the bed.
A strand of long golden hair fell in front of her face but she tucked it behind her ear and smiled, “Harriet?” I asked and my eyes started to water.
I leaned in and pressed my arms around her, holding Harriet close. At last my mind was at peace, “You are one strange creature” she muttered. Her face was as pretty as the last day I saw her, her eyes kind and blue. Not the ordinary sky blue. Harriet’s eyes were blue like the sea, crystal clear blue- shimmering and crashing and churning, striking yet soft.
“Now,” she escaped my grip and sat up from the bed, “we’ve already wasted enough time, shall we go?”
“Oh Kate, you really think you are amusing don’t you?” she sighed.
Before I had a chance to ask anything else, Harriet dragged me out of bed and out the door. She had already packed a basket with food that was sitting by the door. I daren't ask how or why I was there, because if that was a dream I did not want to wake up. I rather smiled and followed her lead as we walked further and further away from home. Harriet walked and her hair fluttered in the air, then sun rays made them seem golden.
Fear sat heavy on my heart, as I recognised the path that lead to McPhails hut. The noise. The thump. The thick liquid. The feeling of drowning. It all came back and I felt my face heating up, “Harriet no!” I yelled and pulled her by the arm.
“My goodness Kate, you almost gave me a heart attack,” she exclaimed.
“We can’t go there.”
I was given a second chance. A chance to change the fate and keep her with me, rewrite our tragic ending and have Harriet forever by my side.
“Then where should we go?”
“Anywhere. Anywhere but here!”
She faced me and nodded her head slightly still unsure, but accepted my wishes. Harriet proposed to go to the beach, and I agreed. We walked down the narrow path that lead to a small opening we had discovered when we were younger, we used to spend hours upon hours here. Together. Away from the rest of the world. The sand was gentle beneath my bare feet. The fresh airs salty smell tickled my nose,
“I forgot how good it feels.”
“Forgot what Kate?”
“The sand. The sea. The salt in the air,” I whispered, “You by my side”.
I felt the warm liquid rolling down my cheeks, I didn’t control it. I couldn’t stop it.
“Why are you crying Kate?” Harriet asked me, but I didn’t have an answer. I wasn’t sad, for the first time in a while these were happy tears. I feel the muscles of my chin tremble like a small child and I bit my lip.
“I’m just happy to see you again.”
“Me too.” she replied.
I extended one arm, reaching for her hand. Her icy fingers intertwined with mine as I pulled her close to the water.
“Kate no, it’s cold.”
“Since when are you afraid of the cold?” I laughed and she followed.
With every step the sand shifted. With every motion forward there was some backward and down, just like walking in fresh fallen snow. The waves roll in white tipped, spreading themselves like fine lace over the beach after they crash in their soft way. We went in deeper and deeper into the water, started diving and splashing each other as we laughed our hearts out. But before I knew it, we were in too deep, I couldn’t feel the sand under my toes but I didn’t say anything.
“Catch me if you can!” I yelled out and started swimming away.
“Kate wait, be careful. The waters are not calm and the tide-”
But I didn’t listen to her, I was so caught up in the moment that I felt like I was flying. Harriet tried to catch up with me but I was too far away, I could listen to her screams, desperately calling my name. I felt needed, like she was afraid to lose me. I wanted to feel needed by Harriet.
The first time my head bobbed beneath the waves I wasn’t worried, but my clothes were starting to tighten around me. I tried to fight back, keep my head above the surface, but the heavy fabrics were making it hard. I had this drowning feeling again, coughing. Feeling unable to breathe. I was slowly dying. I began to fall. I was falling further and further into the darkness until it threatened to swallow me whole. In the end it wasn’t dying that scared me but pain, but I didn’t want to disappear just yet. I couldn’t waste the second chance the universe gave me to make it right with Harriet. But the water was getting colder and everything was getting darker. I gave up.
“Wake up! Please wake up, you can’t do this to me, you cannot leave me!” I woke up coughing up water as Harriet was by my side shaking me violently.
“Kate!” she cried once I fully opened my eyes.
She hugged me tight, she was cold and water was dripping from her golden hair that were now I dark shade of blonde. She squeezed her palms against the damp fabric on my forearms and she helped me stand up.
“Oh Kate, I thought I lost you forever,” she cried, “ I don’t know what I would do without you. Promise me, that you’ll stop acting foolish. Promise me!”
“I-I promise.” I said and wiped away the silvery tears that were rolling down her cheeks. Her pale lips curved upwards into a small smile.
“Harriet, you have to promise me to.”
“That you will never leave me, promise me that you’ll never die.”
She let out a small laugh and stood closer to me, “I promise” she said.
I closed my eyes and titled my head backwards facing the sun; I feared that it was a dream. I feared that she’d disappear. I feared that my Harriet would be lost forever in just a few moments. I opened them again, hesitantly, scared that I’ll be back to my room. To the body that was sick and weak. But I was still at the beach, and Harriet was standing by my side.
As the days went by I thought best not to question what had happened or how I got back to the cape. I wanted to believe that the universe gave me a second chance, for the future I really wanted. By her side, next to Harriet, the beauty with the forever young ocean blue eyes.
In my creative response I chose to write from Kate’s perspective, and the scene takes place during the epilogue. In my version Kate marries and has children but falls ill at the age of 27. She is feverish and delirious so she transfers herself back; moments before her friend’s tragic death. I decided to alter the ending that the author chose to give to the characters and allow Kate to find closure, through a different outcome.
Throughout the text I decided to use repetition to emphasize some of the important phrases Kate says and the feelings they carry. For example, when she lays in bed and then sun comes through the window, it brings back memories. “For a moment it felt like I was back. Back to my home. Back with my mother in the kitchen,” by deliberately using the word back a numerous of times, it indicates how much Kate longs to go back to her old life, when everything was simple and her worries weren’t as extensive.
Imagery is another one of the main techniques I decided to interpret, along with simile to imitate Kate’s Mildenhall writing style. For example when Kate describes her chills as “waves” crushing her little by little “on rocks” to connect to the sea based similes the author uses. Similarly I described Kate’s coughing as drowning as she struggles to get enough air. Lastly I chose the coughing scene to highlight the ending of the piece, when Kates falls into the water and is close to drowning but instead she is saved by Harriet. It also symbolises that as Harriet saves her, Kate lets out her last breath in the real world and finds forever peace along Harriet’s side.
I chose to give the story a different ending and have the two girls interact for one last time because in my opinion Kate saw their relationship as something unfinished. I believe the had all of her affairs in order, her husband and kids, but she didn’t have the chance to have closure with Harriet. I wanted to show that Kate needed to see her happy and living the life she deserved before passing away.