The latest Broadchurch short story, from Erin Kelly, focuses on the intriguing character of Claire Ripley and is set in her home town of Caerphilly in Wales shortly before she moved to South Mercia and met her husband Lee Ashworth. It provides a lovely insight in to Claire and her personality before she was tangled up in the Sandbrook case. It also features a nice back story to one of the key elements to the TV dramas plot, the heart pendant necklace, which was a vital piece of evidence in the case against Pippa Gillespie's killer.
The action centers around Claire's relationship with Gethin Gerrard, a guy she knew from school who she begins dating when they meet up again by chance in a pub. Gethin is from a hard knock family, the men are in and out of prison and the women are as rough as nails, but Claire's not looking for marriage and commitment. She just wants a good time. She fun and flighty and definitely not up for becoming a wife and mum before she's even 30.
Claire is living with her Nain while she saves up to buy her own hairdressing business, the pair have a great bond, and Nain isn't judgemental of her granddaughter's antics, so when Nain warns her to be careful of getting entangled with the Gerrard clan Claire does pause for thought.
It's only as her relationship with Gethin progresses that Claire starts to really consider what she's got herself in to. Gethin is the local drug dealer and is making a his living by handing out sweetie style pills to teens in the pubs and clubs of Cardiff. At first it seems an exciting and almost glamourous lifestyle. Claire is giving the VIP treatment wherever she goes and quaffs champagne in darkened roped off corners of heaving clubs. But doesn't he want more than this? Doesn't he was a business or a career he can be proud of?
Things come to a head after Gethin takes a huge stash on a night out to try and off load the most 'stock' that Claire has even seen him with. As the club throngs and the music blares out Claire adds up how much cash her lover must be raking in, she reckons he'll clear £500 that night. As she pops one of his special pink pills in her mouth he lunges at her and violently prises it out from under her tongue with his finger. Half choked Claire realises with horror that there must be something wrong with the pills and Gethin confesses that he doesn't know what they're cut with or what sort of a reaction they may cause. Looking at the young teenage girls on the dance floor triggers something in Claire, how could he risk something happening to one of them? She grabs the plastic bag stuffed with pills and rushes to the loos where to Gethin's horror she flushes them away. They can't harm anyone now.
Claire hopes that is the last she will she will see of Gethin, but he and his thuggish sister Ceri turn up at the hairdressing salon she's managing and demand she gives Gethin £600 from her savings to save him from a beating. Claire refuses claiming she's done him a favour by removing the potentially lethal pills from circulation.
As Claire is locking up the salon she gets a call from her Dad who tells her that her beloved Nain is in hospital. She's been attacked, no one knows by who, and is in a terrible state. Her fragile, elderly body blotched in bruises, with broken ribs and a potentially broken hip. It break Claire's heart to see her in such a state.
When Claire gets home from visiting the hospital she find the odious Ceri waiting for her, she makes it clear to Claire that she was behind the attack on her Nain as revenge for Claire not coughing up the cash for Gethin. Claire runs up stairs and comes back with £600 in cash that she's been saving, but it's not enough to appease Ceri. It's gone too far and she wants Claire out of town, in fact out of Wales for good and if she doesn't go then next time Nain won't be so lucky.
Claire knows what she has to do, she need to protect her family, and so that night unable to sleep she scours the internet for possible jobs to apply for. In just two clicks she finds a business up for sale in South Mercia. It'sa hair salon and the owner is moving to Dubai and selling it for a song. Claire doesn't even know where South Mercia is but it's in England and Ceri certainly won't follow her there and most importantly it means that Nain will be safe. Now all she has to do is break the news to her.
Nain is doing well when Claire next sees her and she's certainly not going to let the vicious thug who attacked her ruin her life, the sooner she can back to normal the better as far as she's concerned. Claire realises it would be better not to tell her who it was who beat her, though she wonders if deep down she knows.
Claire breaks the news to Nain about her big move and the old lady is hurt, but puts on a brave face for Claire's benefit. She directs Claire to a birthday present she's bought her that is hidden on the top of the dresser back at their house, saying she may as well have it now as she won't be there for her actual birthday now.
Back home Claire find the gift and unwraps it from the sweet 'little girl' gift wrap chosen by her doting gran, inside is a black box containing a delicate silver necklace with a little heart pendant. Claire immediately puts it on and feels a mixture love and guilt all in one. That necklace will always be a reminder of the danger she placed Nain in. A strange thought crosses her mind that she will save that necklace forever and will give it to her daughter one day.
Days later Claire arrives at her new salon in South Mercia and so begins her fresh start and her new life, she thinks back to Gethin and his going nowhere life, she feels disappointed in herself that she ever let herself fall for him in the first place. Her next boyfriend will be different. He'll be honest and caring and get a buzz out a hard day's work. He'll earn his fit physique from toiling and grafting not from a gym. Claire falls asleep dreaming of the man she is yet to meet, but has all but given up on.
Broadchurch concludes on Monday 23rd February at 9pm on ITV and 10pm on TV3