Forever Autumn

She really didn't enjoy rock climbing much but she had made a promise and she is determined to keep it. She spun the rope around her leg, reached forward with one hand and pulled herself up.
"Merlyn, how you doing?"
Her step mums voice drifted up towards her. Merlyn's body screwed up at the sound of her high pitched screech.
"I m ok" Merlyn shouted back.
"Have you seen these lovely flowers" Kate empathised the word "lovely", "if I had a spare had I would pick some for your father"

Merlyn's father had met Kate two years before but to Merlyn it seemed like two decades, Merlyn unwillingly recalled the meeting. She was fifteen and having lost her mother in a terrible car crash the year before, Merlyn wasn't coping. She respected her father's feelings and if this pathetic excuse for a woman made him happy, then she would have to grin and bear the humiliation. Rock climbing wasn't Merlyn's favourite pastime; she only pretended to enjoy it to please her father. Kate was the one to blame for this hobby as her whole family had been climbing enthusiasts, and when she met Jim, he keep the tradition going by sending Merlyn to climbing lessons and organising camping trips in the middle of nowhere. Merlyn believed that he did this to keep her happy

"Are you sure you're alright, darling?"

Kate had somehow over taken Merlyn while she was in her daydream and was hanging expertly on her rope, looking down at her.

"Yeah, super, mega and absolutely fantastic!!" Merlyn replied sarcastically.

"Glad to hear it, by the looks of it your father has managed to get to the top before us"
Kate said cheerfully oblivious to the snide remarks.

"Oh god, why wont you tack the hint!!" thought Merlyn. She pushed herself up and started her journey up the cliff side at a steady pace.

Merlyn got to the top first despite little problems with her rope. "I swear it has a mind of its own" she had told her father and he laughed at that comment.
It had started to get dark and all three were seated around a roaring fire. A black pot sat smugly in the middle and the vegetable stew bubbled within it.

"Yummy, that was soooooooo gorgeous, sweetheart; I knew you had a talent but you've never seemed to show it!!" squealed Kate in delight.

Merlyn had had enough. She stood up and went into her tent to bury her head in one of her favourite books; The Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table or Celtic Myths and Legends.

"Are you going to bed, darling?" questioned Jim "if you are, come and say goodnight"
Merlyn stopped in her tracks, turned on her heals and walked back to the fire. She unwillingly bent low and kissed Kate on the cheek. As she pulled herself back up to straighten herself Kate's arms rushed out and collected her in a fierce hug.
Merlyn waited patently to be let go and when she was she took in a deep breath and shuddered. Her father kissed her forehead and gave a sharp but tender warning; "now you sleep well, dear, Good night"
Merlyn turned and quickened her pace to her tent. She opened the flaps and looked in. there on her sleeping bag was her most prized possession; her mother's patchwork bag. By first glance you would think that it wasn't capable of holding anything being that small, but it was big enough to hold her personals in it. Merlyn zipped the flaps together and started to tip the bag out onto the bed.

"At least dad had the sense not to go through this" thought Merlyn as she pulled Celtic Myths and Legends from under the pile " but I wouldn't put it pass that bimbo."

Merlyn didn't quite know why she hated her step mum; it just came like an instinct like not to stand to close to a fire or you'll get burned. Her friends put it down to missing her mum and that another woman has come into the family. Merlyn's best friend, Storm, understood that Merlyn is only trying to protect her dead mums' position in the family. Merlyn herself would put it down to her knowledge of Kate, as the only thing she knew was that she is a blond headed, rock climbing ex model who hated cheese ( and meat!!). She had tried to talk to her but when she did Kate would always change the subject.

Slipping a night light on her head, Merlyn settled in her sleeping bag and started reading. In her mind, the Great Queen Boadicea rode high on her steed with her flaming waist length hair flying in the wind behind her. Merlyn spun her own fingers in her own waist length hair and sighed, it was late and her eyes were sore. She turned the light out and placed it back into her bag with her book and fell soundly asleep.

Merlyn didn't sleep long, as the howling wind out side awoke her from her sleep. The wind blew stronger and this encouraged the rain to fall. But it wasn't a calm, gentle fall but the rain was so powerful and heavy her tent buckled under the weight shook, a thin stream of water seeped in through the tents jointing. Merlyn gathered her sleeping bag around her away from the walls and placed the patch bag on her lap.

The tent shook some more and the rain pounded. A flash of lighting lit up the sky and roar of thunder shook the very earth. Merlyn shivered, the air around was misty and cold. The rain began to hit the tent harder.

"It isn't rain" thought Merlyn "its hail stones"

There was a loud crash and Merlyn feared for father's life and strangely for Kate's. Merlyn decided to confront the weather and see if they were alright. She slung her coat around her shoulders, climbed out her sleeping bag and opened the flaps. One slung back and whacked her in the face. The impact forced Merlyn flying back into the tent. Some how her patch work bag had caught her ankle, but Merlyn was aware of this. She pulled herself back to her feet and made a dash out into the night, but the bag tripped her up and sent her flying across the harsh ground, landing at the foot of a wind battered tree. She looked up, dazed and watched the branch fall.



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