Heal and Grow by Jake Kendall

The photographs have not done justice to the cottage.

Sarah recalls the website thumbnails: that vibrant red door; those shells, set between the bricks framing the windows; hanging baskets that are an eruption of life and colour… Gorgeous. She’d sent jubilant screenshots to her mother from the train. Yet photographs can’t capture the true allure of this place – the remoteness, the quiet. The trains had taken her only to the nearest village. For the last two miles, Sarah’s taxi was the only vehicle winding down narrow country roads.

They pull into the drive. Sarah pays the driver, her contentment permitting him the change. She takes her bags from the boot and waves him off.

She walks the garden path. The cottage door opens to greet her. Helen barrels out, screaming with excitement. Sarah giggles as she is grabbed in a manic embrace and forced to bounce on the spot. They speak simultaneously; tripping over each other’s enthusiasm as Sarah wonders just how long it has been.

“Two years,” says Helen, “give or take. Since the Bristol move actually.”

Helen pulls away. She hasn’t changed at all: she wears the same baggy tie-dyes and harem pants; her hair pushed back by the same bright hand band. Familiarity pleases Sarah. She pulls Helen close and beams as she raises her phone. Helen has just enough time to smile before the selfie is taken. Sarah thanks Helen for getting in touch again, and for suggesting this therapeutic coastal weekend retreat.

Helen takes a bag and leads the way. The cottage is full of rustic charm. The living room comes furnished with a sofa, big enough for two to recline in. A large TV is provided. The garden is pretty and offers a sea-view. Upstairs two large bedrooms come with private bathrooms and four-poster beds. Sarah falls like a starfish on hers, and writhes elatedly, from one side to the other, as Helen goes downstairs to finish dinner.

This is perfect, Sarah tells herself, a weekend in quiet paradise, with absolutely nothing to do. Tonight, she will sleep with the window open, the cool sea breeze counteracting the humidity of summer, the gentle sound of the hypnotic waves lulling her to sleep. The prospect fills her with an emotion she hasn’t felt in months; an alien sensation called happiness that rushes seemingly from her soul, up through her heart and lungs, into her throat and mouth. All of a sudden, she feels like laughing.

With bed suitably enjoyed, Sarah produces the two bottles of sparkling wine she has brought with her and takes them downstairs to a kitchen that smells earthy, like home-cooking.

“I’ve made us an Orzotto,” declares Helen, taking the dish from the oven, “and baked for a nice, crispy top.”

“Lovely,” Sarah replies, popping a bottle and pouring out two glasses. “Oh my god. It’s so good to see you again,” she adds, giving Helen’s shoulder an affectionate squeeze. “Dinner smells incredible!”

“The great defamation!” Helen declares, smiling. “Vegan food is called dull only by those who cannot cook. These are probably the same people who go to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Me? I went to India.”

Helen recalls trekking the Himalayas, she reminisces about chickpeas and lentils and the majesty of the aubergine. Sarah half-listens, holding the first mouthful of wine, letting the bubbles tickle the roof of her mouth, savouring the crisp, clean, flavour.

Sarah is uploading her selfie to Instagram and Facebook by the time Helen is explaining that Italy’s true holy trinity is the coalescence of garlic, basil, and tomato.

“…and not a single innocent creature abused or sacrificed on the altar of my satiation,” Helen finishes with a wink as she places the plates on the table.

Sarah photographs the food before tucking in. As they eat, Helen explains her new business venture. “Well, not so much a business per se, more a spiritual endeavour which hopefully can pay some bills.” The endeavour involves making knitwear, dream catchers, and handmade jewellery, to be sold online, at markets, and, hopefully, music festivals next summer. “Who knows,” Helen signs off “maybe you could get involved. I could use some extra capital and well, you’re a free woman now.”

“I suppose I am,” replies Sarah, fighting back an inclination to smirk. Truthfully, Sarah can hardly imagine a less appealing prospect for her new-found freedom than making dreamcatchers and flogging them to teenagers for pocket change.

After dinner, they retire to the sofa. Helen sits first, legs outstretched as she beckons for Sarah to lay across her lap, patting her thigh invitingly. Sarah giggles. She would sometimes lay on Helen’s lap back at University, after experimenting with weed; they listened to music then, while discussing life, love, and politics.

Sarah loves traditions, and so she lowers herself carefully and looks up to the face of an old friend. She is too polite to say anything, but Helen smells a little, like musty clothes, and a moral stance against antiperspirant. Helen strokes Sarah’s hair. She seems tentative. Sarah interprets this wavering as if Helen is assessing how appropriate it will be to broach the elephant-in-the-room.

“I’m doing okay,” says Sarah, deciding for her. “Of course, there were days… days at the beginning where I felt like I’d fallen through a trap door… Times where the sadness choked me… Mum, bless her, Mum brought food, made sure I ate. And I have friends still… so many texts and phone calls… At times, I was drowning in good intentions when I needed alone-time. God, how ungrateful! Still, I took great comfort knowing I’m only as alone as I choose to be.”

Sarah’s speech flows naturally by now. It has been drafted and refined a hundred times over.

“Oh,” replies Helen.

She seems genuinely surprised.

Sarah blushes.

“Sorry – absolutely didn’t mean to… I thought you wanted to talk about it.”

“Of course, I want to talk about it. In time. Trust me – if you want, we can go to town on it, until it is picked as clean as a desert carcass… I just didn’t expect you to jump in right away.”

“Sorry. You were staring at me… I assumed you were gearing up.”

“No… I was working out if red suits you, or not.”

Sarah’s need for change had manifested in the addition of red streaks to her hair last week. Helen does not make her verdict on the colour change known. She instead clears her throat and sings.

“Ain’t got no home. Ain’t got no clothes. Ain’t got no money. Ain’t got no class…”

Sarah lingers in her friend’s lap, unsure of what to do. It has been a while since they’d spent significant time together, long enough that Sarah had near forgotten her singing habit. As Helen reaches the lines “I got my hair, got my head,” she begins bopping Sarah on the according body part. The climax truly tests Helen’s vocal cords. She strains out the proud declaration “I got the life” with heartfelt passion as she leans closer downwards.

“You’ve still got your life, Sarah,” she whispers.

Sarah nods. She has her life. She wants her wine.

“He was wrong for you,” begins Helen. It isn’t a tentative assertion either. “Everyone thought so.”

Everyone is hyperbolic Sarah reflects, silently. Ollie wasn’t universally loved, that was true. He was a private person, usually absent from parties, and bad at them when he arrived. He was prone to mood swings and preferred drinking at home. Sometimes Ollie would barely leave the house all weekend, insisting that he preferred novels and music to her friend’s gatherings. Those predilections aside, in eight years Ollie had never once been unfaithful, had always been supportive, even loving in his way. He had also shown warmth towards most of Sarah’s friends and family, those ones he had liked anyway. The issue between him and Helen had been simply that she had fallen into the other bracket… They had clashed over something trivial – a song skipped on Helen’s pre-made playlist if Sarah recalled correctly – since then, everyone disapproved of Ollie, everyone could see he was rude and arrogant, and, not to mention, something of a playlist Nazi too.

Sarah does not quibble aloud.

Helen asks how it ended exactly.

“It was mutual. Maybe.” Sarah pours more wine as she falls gladly back into the oft-expressed. “I was born broody. He wasn’t. He doesn’t really – I mean, maybe, one day, always one day. But there’s never any urgency with Ollie. He’s just… I’m thirty-one now. I still love him, always will. But I’m done waiting for him to grow up.”

“Did you make the choice clear?”

“No. I shouldn’t have to. I gave him eight years and a million hints, Helen. Wasn’t that enough? Every time children came up, he’d say – the world is bad, and getting worse. Why bring life into it? I told him, because I need to. I need to have children.”

“That’s a bit sad. Don’t you think?”

It is not quite the empathetic response Sarah anticipates. She gropes blindly for another topic, Sarah asks a question, knowing the answer already.

“How about you, are you seeing anyone?”

“Oh god no. Honestly, I’ve gone off men completely. There’s one, of course, orbiting my life like some sad little satellite: showing up at dances groups and slams, sending texts asking how my day was. He sent flowers to my house last week. Can you imagine?”

Helen snorts incredulously. Sarah finds herself laughing along, for reasons she doesn’t quite understand.

The conversation regresses shortly into banality. Sarah reaffirms that it is so nice to catch up again. She checks their selfie on Facebook. It has fewer likes than she’d hoped for. Just six. She shows Helen, telling her their old housemate has commented with three heart emoji’s.

Helen does not care in the slightest.

Sarah says she is tired and observes that they have all weekend together. She asks if Helen minds the TV on. Helen shrugs and produces her guitar; strumming and humming over the programmes. Sarah keeps her phone out, scrolling and drinking until the wine runs out.

Sarah awakes to two things. First, the sound of someone beating on a door. Then, the full force of a hangover.

She isn’t at home. She isn’t at Mum’s either. She’s in a strange four-poster bed. She is about to panic when it all comes flooding back.  

Helen shouts through the door. Sarah’s phone suggests it is six-thirty in the morning. There must be an emergency. She moves groggily to crack the door ajar. Helen is not wearing her usual attire. She is wearing running shorts and a crop top. Sarah can’t help noticing how flat and muscular Helen’s stomach is.

“We’re running this morning,” Helen informs her, “the coastal paths are beautiful. No arguments! You’ll feel good for doing something proactive, it will invigorate the endorphins, and besides, we want to do something about this don’t we?” Helen rubs Sarah’s stomach.

It wasn’t that big these days. Some weight was lost during the break-up. Nevertheless, Sarah is given ten minutes to dress for the run.

She has with her some TV slob-out trousers and an old tee shirt. Her mouth is arid and foul. Yesterday’s wine. It would seem Sarah neglected dental hygiene before sleeping last night. She brushes her teeth, drinks greedily from the tap, and trudges downstairs.

The village of Great Tew is six miles west. They will make their way there from the beach before ascending the cliffs. Helen assures there would be peaks, troughs, and lovely views of the sea. She sets off at pace. Sarah follows, her body rebelling against every step. She doesn’t have running shoes or a sports bra. Her stomach is unsettled, her saliva glands push out stale wine. By the time she reaches the steep incline, she has a stitch.

Helen waits ahead, jogging on the spot, throwing in occasional star jumps and shouting encouragement. Sarah drags herself up the path at walking pace, flailing her arms, hoping to convince them both she was still running. When she reaches the top, Sarah bends double, catching her breath.

“Come on” Helen urges. “Mind over matter”

“I need a breather”

“The body is the bitch. It does what you tell it.”

Sarah nods mutely and pushes on. She feels a stab of pain in her diaphragm. It becomes gaseous. It becomes a belch, forcing itself upwards. When it arrives, it is pure alcohol. Sarah falls to her knees, her face on fire. She fights back the nausea briefly and valiantly, but it insists. Soon, Sarah is on all fours, watching bitter liquid spraying from her.

Helen stands a way off, looking elsewhere.

“All done?” she asks as Sarah takes to her feet.

“Think so.”

“Well, upwards and on.”

“I can’t Helen. That’s a sign – I’m done.”

“You’ve managed five minutes.”

Sarah wonders if Helen didn’t just see the consequence of her attempts to make her body her bitch. She tries to make her friend understand, but Helen waves her away.

“Fine Sarah. So you know, you’re letting us both down.”

Helen turns and runs quickly into the distance.

Sarah returns to the cottage and enjoys a long shower. She snoozes in front of Saturday morning TV, drinking five cups of tea consecutively. Around half eleven she stands, anticipating Helen’s return.

Sarah wants to make amends; she wants to make lunch. On the train, Sarah had received assurances that Helen had stacked the fridge.  

Inside she discovers tofu, aubergines, chilli, and garlic. In a cupboard she locates packet egg-fried rice, and soy sauce. Sarah slices the tofu and marinades it in the soy, along with chopped chilli and garlic; she halves the aubergines and bakes them.

Helen enters through the front door and heads straight upstairs. It is forty-five minutes later before Helen appears in the kitchen, washed and changed.

“Hope you’re hungry!” Sarah offers, finding herself making wild jazz-hands. “I started lunch.”


“You know, I used to love cooking. Don’t do it enough anymore – not much point alone! These days, its beans on toast, ready-meals, Pret salads – that kind of thing.”

Helen takes a pint glass from the cupboard and fills it with water. Something twigs in Sarah’s memory, safe ground to retreat to. She softly clears her throat.

“Speaking of dining solo, you know, on Valentine’s Day, I participated in the world’s most tragic three-way. By which, I mean I gate-crashed my parent’s evening out, forcing them to split their food three-ways.”

Sarah pauses for a laugh that never comes.

“Hm,” replies Helen. “So, you’re quoting your own Facebook posts now?”

Helen tips the entire glass of water down in one gulp before pouring out a second.

Crestfallen, Sarah turns on the grill.

“I’ve marinated the tofu, saw you had soy and…”

“You did what?” Helen charges over to inspect the bowl. “Have you ever cooked tofu before? You don’t wet it. How the hell is supposed to crisp off now?”

Helen wants answers. She stares unblinkingly into Sarah’s eyes, silently demanding a reversal of the laws of gastro-physics.

Sarah has no reply. She mumbles an apology, picks up the mistake and walks it towards the bin. Helen stops her, gripping her shoulders tight.

“You’d put food in the bin now?” she demands, nostrils flaring.

Helen takes the bowl from Sarah’s hand and takes control of lunch. She remains wordless, letting the crashing and clattering of plates and cutlery convey her emotions.

Sarah leaves the kitchen. She sits on the sofa. She discovers she is crying. As she hides the evidence of her weakness behind her hands, she does not see Helen following her tentatively into the room.

“Something wrong?” Helen asks, sitting beside Sarah.

Their lunch is frosty. Sarah makes a few attempts to fall back onto old anecdotes, but nostalgia is of little use to them now. Their afternoon is shared isolation. Sarah volunteers to wash up. Helen takes to meditating in the garden. Sarah finds herself texting other people, the TV playing rubbish quiz shows in quiet defiance in the background. Helen returns to the living room, picks up her guitar and returns to the garden.

The stalemate lasts three hours. Sarah knows it is up to her to break it; Helen never concedes, for she is never wrong.

Eventually, Sarah makes her peace offering, taking two cups of black coffee to the garden. She occupies the seat next to Helen. They watch the sea awhile. Sarah apologises for not completing the run. Helen forgives with a sharp shrug and tells her, it’s her body. Sarah waits for a counter-apology. She waits in vain

Helen takes her coffee with both hands, blowing on it before she sips.

“Why do you think human beings like to watch the sea?” she asks.

Sarah flinches, as if there was one definite answer, one she should have revised thoroughly before the weekend.

“I think it’s because the sea is the opposite of everything we are,” Helen continues, “vast, cold, indifferent, beautiful, dangerous, without ego, eternal. Our instinctive selves understand this. It’s why we pause. Why we build near it – it’s as close as we can get to seeing time itself.”

“Huh yeah,” Sarah interrupts, offering her very best cynicism. “And what do we do there? Coconut stalls, chips and curry sauce, nudey postcards.”

“We’re murdering it too of course. The waters, the earth, the sky… All of it. Ollie and I didn’t agree on much, but he’s right: overpopulation, carbon footprints, global warming, the ice caps, the bees… If you ever do manage children, God knows what sad approximation of the world they’ll experience.”

Sarah gasps. She puts down her coffee dumbfounded. She turns fully in her chair to face Helen, her mouth wide open. She wants to know how Helen can be so thoughtless as to poke at such a fresh wound, but the words don’t quite form in time. Helen takes her guitar again and sings.

“Come gather round people, wherever you roam. Admit that the waters around you have grown…”

Helen had sung for as long as they had known each other.  In house party kitchens, around campfires in the summer, open nights at pubs, at the tail ends of dinner parties… Inhibition does not concern her, nor invitation. She always took deep offence with anyone who talked over her voice, and anyone who walked away from her performances.

Sarah sits smouldering, arms folded. She spends the next three minutes privately refusing to listen, while conceiving of an escape route for the evening.

“Shall we go to the pub?” Sarah suggests, seconds after Helen finishes.

“What pub?” Helen snorts. “It’s only us here. Was kind of the point.”

She was right, that had been the pitch.

“I saw a nice-looking pub back at Little Tew. Just two miles away. We can taxi”

Sarah is aware that her insistence is almost an admission of the weekend’s failure. She knows too that the pub can’t fix all their problems. Nevertheless, it must be better than festering here all evening. Helen resists the notion at first, proclaiming alcohol to be quite the dreary drug, stating that only the mind-expanding qualities of hallucinogens held any great appeal to her these days.

“Come on,” Sarah urges, “it’ll be fun. Like student days – a few drinks, meet the locals, dinner on me to thank you for the weekend?”

Helen assents, either sensing Sarah’s desperation, or because she also does not relish continuing as they had all afternoon. Sarah phones the taxi and arranges their collection for six; she books a table with the pub, just to be certain. With that, it feels organic enough for Sarah to take the coffee mugs and excuse herself.

“That’s that then! See you at six!” Her smile is wide and fake. They both know this. “I’ll knock for you, shall I?” she asks, in the futile hope that a weak joke might suffice to bandage the moment.

In the taxi, everything feels better. Perhaps the two-hour break from each other has helped. Or perhaps it is the sight of watching their lovely little cottage disappearing in the rear-view mirror.

Their driver is affable and talkative. She asks where they are from. Sarah tells her that they were both from Oxford, had met at university in Bath, and lived together a long time ago before Sarah had met her partner. The thought of Ollie threatens a little upset. Helen seems to sense this, she gives Sarah a slight rub on the arm.

The pub is cosy. The bar area is filled with flower vases, seashells, a ship’s wooden steering wheel, and watercolours of coastal views. Sarah buys two double gin and tonics. They take them to a back garden adorned with grapevines and brightly painted benches. Outside, a few village regulars are only too happy to mingle with new conversational blood. Sarah is deeply thankful of the locals. Their jokes and stories alleviate the pressure. They allow them to relax. They begin laughing together again and play off each other, much like they used to. When they finish their first drinks, Helen stands and buys a second round at the bar wordlessly and without hesitation.

The landlord comes for them at seven, apologising that they do not serve food outside. Helen and Sarah wave off the locals and follow the landlord back inside to a beautiful candlelit table. The special that day is a pan of vegetables, sliced potatoes, diced chorizo, seabass and muscles. Sarah can’t wait to order it. First though, drinks? Sarah suggests buying a bottle of prosecco to celebrate their last night. Helen wonders if just a glass is enough, after all, she probably wants only one herself. Sarah nods sagely and declares by-the-glass to be a false economy. She orders the bottle, handing the landlord back the drinks menu to settle the matter.

Helen picks up the food menu. “Only one vegan option,” she says flatly. It is a curry, served with jasmine rice and chapatti. Sarah exhales, a little hard. She wants the fish pan; this warm summer evening does not call for curry.

“What,” snaps Helen outstretching her palms. “Order what you like. Order a beef burger, served raw and fucking bloody; with a side of turkey-torture-twizzlers if that’s what you fancy.” Helen takes a furious sip from her gin before bursting out laughing. “Sorry, that was a little loaded wasn’t it?”

Sarah laughs the maniacal laugh of the relieved. Their prosecco arrives, glasses are poured. The landlord asks their choices. Helen orders one curry and insists that her friend will not be having the same. Sarah smiles back, genuinely grateful, and orders the fish pan.

Sarah watches the landlord depart and looks back to her drink. She wants to ask something honest, but bravery does not come naturally. For Sarah, honesty is like regurgitating razorblades. Clasping the stem of her prosecco flute, she forces her courage forth.

“Helen… Helen. Do you think this has been a mistake? Meeting up like this?”

Sarah takes a long drink. She is unable to look across the table. The reply is some time coming.

“A mistake? I don’t think so. I mean, it’s been great to spend time together. Obviously. But this isn’t old times I suppose. We’ve drifted apart. I spend time with people like me, and you spend time with people like you. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Sarah nods before a wave of affront hits her.

“Why would there be anything wrong with that?”

“Oh, I can see you all, talking about Tom Hardy, the Big British Bake-Off, Love Island… who’s going to get married next…. blah blah, snore. But if that’s what makes you happy, all power to you. I hope you don’t mind me saying but to me, that life… that’s the death of the mind.”

Sarah pours a second glass of prosecco for herself.

“I don’t mind at all. So long as you don’t mind me saying, you grew up to be… to be…”

Sarah’s courage deserts her.

“To be?” Helen asks playfully. “A bit of a bitch, right?” Sarah nods and flinches. “Well, this is not the first time I’ve heard that,” Helen laughs, raising her glass to clink.

Their food arrives. Sarah photographs her pan and uploads it Instagram. They eat peacefully. Sarah asks how the curry is, she learns that it is a little under-spiced. Helen asks about the fish and Sarah dares answer that it is delicious fishy murder. They drink a little more as the plates are taken away. Tipsy, Sarah laughs at a memory.

“What?” Helen asks.

“Oh, nothing. It’s just… it’s funny how you grow up to be more yourself, isn’t it? The way you talked about boyslast night, a sad little satellite. It reminded me of that Andrew guy from halls, remember him? He kept bringing you chocolate bars in English class. What was it you said to him, something about cats?”

“Just that sure, when a cat brings gifts and prostrates itself, it’s cute. When a man does it, my skin crawls.”

Sarah snorts. “They’ve always been terrified of you. Poor things. I suppose that’s why…” Sarah trails off.

“Why what?”

“Oh, nothing. Forget I said a thing.”

“I gave you a free hit earlier because I deserved one Sarah. But if this is revenge, getting personal, then sure, let’s get personal.”

“Helen, please, I didn’t mean…”

“You meant; my horrible, bitch, personality is the reason I have always been alone.”

“No, not like that.”

“Sarah. I don’t care. I never met anyone I’ve loved, ever. I still value myself. It’s you who’s never seen yourself as anything more than someone’s girlfriend, someone’s daughter, someone’s potential mother, whatever. You’ve developed into a purer expression of yourself too. Still looking down on anyone who even slightly deviates from a “normal” lifestyle… No, don’t disagree, I saw you smirking at my business idea. You love all this social media crap too, finally you have a way to feast on validation. You’re still lazy; still too fond of the bottle, never doing anything proactive or positive for yourself. Just a tiny bit boo-hoo.”

Sarah pours the last wine from the bottle and stares defiantly back.

“Define boo-hoo.

“You’re just so sorry for yourself. Scared of everything. Scared to miss out. Bullied into a career and a mortgage without questioning if that’s what makes you happy… I cannot stand scared people! You take relationships and try bending them in ways they will not bend. Ollie was never going to be a good father; he wasn’t interested. And me? I invited you here because I thought it would be nice to reconnect as friends; not because I am dying to contribute to the great spiritual recovery of Sarah Roberts. This was not your heal-and-grow. Consider this. You left Ollie, not the other way around. He didn’t cheat. There were no children. Fine, feel a bit down about it – that’s normal. But with you, everything’s a fucking tragedy, there are tears, there are a million posts on Facebook: guys: today the depression felt like drowning, friends; today the depression was like free-fall; today the depression stared back at me through the glassy eyes of a passing Labrador. Honestly? I muted you.”

“You muted me?”

Helen stares back, arms folded, and says nothing further.

The landlord interprets their silence as a readiness to leave. He takes the plates and presents the bill, asking if everything was alright with the food. Helen informs him all was fine and requests a taxi.

When the landlord returns with the card machine, Sarah makes a point of paying only half the bill and passes the machine to Helen in silence. Helen sneers and pays for her curry, telling the landlord to return the bill back to Sarah for the wine, since Sarah drank it all once again. The landlord fidgets among the tension, asking a cursory, you sure you guys are alright?

“It’s fine,” Sarah tells him. “Nothing you’ve done. My lovely friend here decided to mute me is all,” Sarah says, settling the remaining total.

The landlord gladly leaves them to it, telling them he will keep an eye out for the taxi. Helen thanks him once again, thrusting a ten-pound tip his way to apologise for the atmosphere. She then turns back to Sarah.

“Pathetic,” she declares. “Someone says something you don’t like, and now you’re going to sulk like a child, are you? Are you going to be silent all night? What else, will you run away in the morning perhaps? Unfriend me on Facebook? Perhaps write a post to everyone, saying I was mean to you, and how much you value your real friends – friends that closet you in pity, placate your worst tendencies, and never, ever challenge you?”

Sarah stands and moves to a table by the window to keep watch for the arrival of the taxi. She thinks about Helen’s list. She will stay silent all night. She thanks herself for buying an open return home; it makes running away tomorrow a distinct possibility. As is unfriending Helen, blocking her number, and avoiding Bristol like the plague. As for the Facebook post… she has been drafting it in her mind ever since Helen told her that she was muted. However deep-down she suspects Helen might have a point. If so, such a post might just be proving it for her.

Perhaps Helen has more of a point even than that. Beneath Sarah’s anger is the first twitching of self-re-evaluation. Perhaps asking for a dwindling amount of sympathy in public forums and getting drunk at the weekend is a form of wallowing after all.

Sarah makes a promise to herself: tomorrow is a new day; she will honestly appraise her life and attitude; she will try and change for the better. Perhaps she will start tomorrow morning, by hugging Helen, forgiving her, and thanking her for her honesty.

That… or run away, and never speak to her again.

Jake Kendall has finished his Creative Writing MSc at the University of Edinburgh, and is reluctantly returning to reality. Why not cheer him up with a Twitter follow @jakendallox