HIRAETH: A homesickness for a home that cannot be returned to or that never was.
Who is Rachel Amber? She’s an enigma, that much is certain. A perfect student and a hell-raiser both; tattoos of a dragon on her right calf and a star on the inside of her left wrist lend credence to the idea that she has long struggled between her two natures.
Even now – sitting across from Chloe in the Two Whales Diner, Rachel’s thoughts are not her own. Frank is seated two booths from them, unable to resist the occasional glance in her direction despite his love for the beans before him. She knows it’s wrong, what she’s doing to Chloe. She thinks she loves Frank too, or the idea of him at the very least, and she supposes it doesn’t hurt that he facilitates her drug habit too.
“Rachel? You’re acting hella strange again.” Chloe complained, highlighting the awkward tension that had consumed the usual lively atmosphere within the diner, trying to draw out all of her best friend’s secrets. It was lucky then that Rachel had some restraint; the truth would only serve to hurt Chloe and Rachel couldn’t bear to hurt her best friend.
“Sorry, I was lost in thought again. Imagining our life once we get out of here, as usual.” She offered, doing her best to change the subject. It was their dream, their obsession in all honesty, to free themselves from the oppression of life in Arcadia Bay and start anew in Los Angeles. She was ambitious sure but a career in International Law or working as a Model was well within her grasp. As long as Chloe was with her, Rachel knew they would make it.
“If only we had the cash, we could go right now. There’s nothing holding us back.” It’s true, she thinks, for Chloe. Rachel doesn’t know if she can go through with it. It’s neither Frank that holds her back nor Nathan Prescott, despite his brazen pining for her. Not even Pompidou, she joked.
“We’ll get it together, have some faith.” She encouraged, relishing the smile that graced Chloe’s face, “Are we still meeting at American Rust later?” Chloe asked, although it was clear she had some inclination of the answer she was going to get. After all, Rachel had begun to drift ever so slightly from the blue-haired punk.
“I’ve got a family thing, you know that.” She confirms. It’s a blatant lie, they both know it. It’s still better than the truth, Rachel decides. She’s tried – tried so many times – to tell Chloe what was going on in her life. Figured it was better she heard it straight from the source. She’d tried on paper, by text and even face-to-face but she always flaked; always knew what the consequences of the truth would be. Losing Chloe. A price she was unwilling to pay.
“Why don’t we meet up in the morning? We can go there together.” She promises, taking Chloe’s hand in hers and giving it a gentle squeeze of reassurance. Chloe smiles, really smiles and she does too. Chloe would always call Rachel ‘her angel’, but it was always Chloe who saved her.
She waited until Chloe left with Joyce, secret looks and touches between them that assured Chloe that her feelings were real – and Rachel was sure that they were. She stands outside the diner, waiting patiently until she is sure Frank is staring into her soul; desperately pleading with her to return his affections again. She wanted to – maybe even as desperately as he did, finding herself somewhat missing the domestic bliss within his RV with Pompidou on the road far away from Arcadia Bay – and yet she would never allow herself to. He had terrified her, shaken Rachel to her core, after he became violent after taking drugs. Before, she was considering leaving Arcadia Bay with him. Now she knew better.
She strides over to him as cool as you please, unwilling to even stare him in the eyes. “Leave me alone, Frank. I mean it.” She declared, twirling a strand of her hair in her hand. He grunted at her, turning around to kick his RV before throwing the beer bottle in his hand to the ground. She gasped slightly, wary of being around him.
He turned again, forcing her to back off to get distance between them. He followed, backing her up against the RV, “Now why would I do that?” he asked, grazing his facial hair against her face as he leant in as though to claim her lips like he used to. She jerked her head away and cried out for him to get away from her.
“If you think I could ever love you again, after what you did, then you’re a bigger fool than I thought.” She spat out, hoping her venom would hurt him. Unsurprisingly, it did and Rachel sprinted away from the diner as fast as her legs would take her.
Blackwell Academy seemed like a world of its own, Rachel observed, as she made her way to her dorm room. She couldn’t explain it, not that words would have probably allowed it anyway, but Blackwell and everyone that called it home had their own story. Their own secrets too, Rachel joked with a smirk, not that they could top any of hers.
She slipped inside the dormitory, ascended the stairs and would have made it safely to her room had it not been for Victoria Chase. She had always been jealous of Rachel, even if she had more than Rachel ever did. “As if you made it onto the VIP list, I wonder what you had to do to get on it.” Victoria commented suggestively.
Rachel laughed heartily at Victoria, “Jealous much? I bet Nathan wished I did have to do something to get on the list.” She replied, smirking as Victoria stormed off in defeat. Rachel entered room 224, turning on her light and staring at herself in the dirty mirror. Rachel was pretty, she knew it and made sure that everyone else did, and would probably make a good model one day; when she finally gets out of Arcadia Bay.
Adorning a punk shirt and a pair of light shorts, one wouldn’t expect Rachel to be the apple of everyone’s eyes dressed plainly and yet she was – without question. It exhilarated her to no end, spurning her to shake her hips more as she rocked out to the pulsing beats of the music. She tried her best to hide her Vortex Club membership from Chloe, and yet she could hardly help herself from losing control as soon as the music intoxicates her – even before the alcohol.
His eyes were on her, eyeing her as only he could. She pretended not to notice, teasing him slightly. The way he looked at her; she imagined he took shots of her with his eyes, as though she possessed something that he desperately needed to claim. Whether it was love or lust, Rachel couldn’t resist, following him outside to avoid unnecessary attention.
“There’s something about you, Rachel; a gift.” Mr Jefferson declares, taking her into his arms and placing a few chaste kisses on her forehead. “I could take pictures of you all day and they would all be perfect.” It hadn’t been the first time he asked to take photos of her, and she had complied, but he always seemed disappointed, as though they were lacking what he hoped to gain from them.
She wanted him so badly, to be his muse; his everything. “No one can capture me better than you, Mark.” She confirms, kissing him softly at first. She doesn’t care about the risks, not anymore. Mr Jefferson gives her hope, like she really belongs in this world and in his during their stolen moments together. She couldn’t give that up, even if she wanted to. He’d whisk her off again, to a place where they’d have more privacy. He was bold, she thought, but knew that nobody would notice both absences and assume the worst; the truth.
She leans into Chloe and rests her head on her shoulder, soaking in the tranquillity of their hideout at American Rust. “I love you.” Chloe declared, staring intently with fear as though Rachel would reject her. “I love you too.” She smiles, kissing Chloe with the same passion as she had Mr Jefferson the night before.
She needed them both, she decided. Even Frank, to a certain extent. She was doomed, they all were. Eventually, it would come back to bite her in the ass. To Rachel, reality was her prison. She longs to go home, to finally feel as though she truly belongs for more than a brief moment. And yet it is an impossibility. Rachel doesn’t have a home, not really. Who is Rachel Amber really? If she doesn’t have the answer then she is truly lost. Homesick for a home that never really existed. They call it hiraeth, she’d read. Hiraeth.