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Say Good-bye to All Your Dear Kin
Seonag Forbes leaned back in her chair and surveyed her office with disdain. Her pictures were gone, her desk was gone, and the only bit of furniture left to move was the one she was sitting in. She sighed heavily as a burly, slightly sweaty, red-faced man in movers’ clothes entered the room. She stood to allow him to lift her chair onto his shoulders, and followed him out of her office, turning only once to lock the door. As she passed the reception desk, she tossed her keys at the woman behind the counter and raised a hand as she turned her back as a final farewell to the company she had worked so hard to get where it was.
And that was that.
Outside, a valet waited for her with the backseat door open of a company car. All of her luggage was already neatly packed and the valet smiled cheerily at her as she got in and he closed the door behind her. New guy, she thought. She and the driver passed in silence until they reached the airport. There, Seonag unpacked her belongings from the car and waved an unenthusiastic good-bye to the driver before turning to the four people waiting behind her.
There was a tall, broad-shouldered man with strawberry-blond hair and twinkling eyes standing next to a woman in a wheelchair who bore a strong resemblance to Seonag. She was tall (though one could hardly tell), slim built with shoulder-length brown hair that frizzed a little and big brown eyes like a doe. Her cheeks were round and rosy and covered in freckles. Aside from the cheeks and hair (Seonag went to great lengths to keeps her skin tone even and her hair perfectly smooth and straight), Seonag only really differed from her sister’s looks in that Iseabail was a tad more schoolmarm-ish and less executive material.
Behind Iseabail and her husband, Jim, stood two girls, aged eleven and sixteen. Seonag thought that if she had had a child, it would probably have been like Ainslie, the eldest girl. She was tall and slim like her mother and aunt, with her mother’s face and a bit of a red tinge to her hair that must have come from her father. But she also had a cynical, almost sarcastic, look in her eyes that made her especially dear to Seonag.
The younger girl however, was blonde, round, and hyper. Her name was Colleen, and she was the female embodiment of her father. While Ainslie inherited a bit of her father’s hair to make her different from her mother, Colleen had her mother’s round, innocent eyes and freckles, but all else was Jim’s. This girl was simply too much for Seonag. She was the kind of child that, if left alone with her aunt, would have to be locked in a closet while her aunt guzzled aspirin to get rid of the headache she had caused. And naturally, it was she who bounded forward to be the first to give her heartfelt farewell.
“Aunty Seonag!” she cried, pushing past her father and sister and wrapping herself around her startled aunt, “I’m so excited you’re going to Scotland! I wanna go too, but Mom said I can’t because I’ll hurt myself, but you have to bring me back something, k?” Seonag nodded distractedly, trying to pry the overzealous child from her waist without wrinkling the clothes she’d have to wear for the next two days.
“Colleen,” her mother cooed, “your aunt has a plane to catch. We need to say good-bye too.” She held out her arms to her sister. As Seonag bent to hug Iseabail, the injured woman whispered, “I wish I could go with you. It would be so much fun.” Seonag pulled away and glanced down at the bright blue cast that kept her older sister in a wheelchair.
“I wish you could too.” Though what she was really thinking was, I wish you could go instead of me.
The next was Ainslie who, as usual, tried to show her little sister how an adult bids farewell, by gently hugging Seonag, before gracefully pulling away. Then Jim stepped forward and enveloped her in his massive arms. Seonag liked Jim but she could tell by the midriff-bulge pressing against her that he had eaten too much of Iseabail’s traditional Scottish cooking; unconsciously, she sucked her stomach away, trying to avoid too much physical contact.
She pulled away and considered the four people before her; her injured sister, her lumberjack brother-in-law, the child she tried to love despite the fact that they could only cohabit for short periods of time, and the only child that she could ever imagine adopting. This could be the last time she would see them for at least six moths, or until Iseabail’s leg healed. Then they’d visit but the girls would have to go back to school and Seonag would be left virtually alone again. Not that she didn’t love her mother, but it was a daunting task.
With a sigh of resignation, she heaved her luggage into the teeming airport. She stood in line for over and hour, inching her way closer to the counter behind which four smug-looking beckoned people forward at their leisure. Finally, one of the waved her forward imperiously with an expression that said, “I’ve got a nametag and I’m better than you.” She sigh yet again and handed over her passport and tickets and watch his face intently. She considered her name both a curse and a blessing; a curse because no one could ever pronounce it correctly and a blessing because it brought self-satisfied people down a few pegs. And such was the case now. He opened her passport and began, “Okay, Miss…uh…” his face fell as he squinted a little, then recovered, “Miss Forbes.”
“It’s pronounced ‘Shoh-na’” she said, sounding condescending on purpose.
“Uhh, right,” he said, passing back her things. “Everything looks like it’s in order. You can take your things right over there. Next!” He waved arrogantly at the next person in line as he pointed her in the vague direction of a set of make-shift walls further on.
The men that took her bags from her were apes. Luckily she didn’t have anything breakable in her luggage. A bit disgusted and frustrated with the world at large, she moved on to her terminal and sat. For four hours.
She sighed once more, the general expression of her exasperation with the situation and boarded the plane bound for Miami. She still had a long way to go.
From Miami, she caught a plane for London, where she sat next to a man named Bill who wanted to know everything about her. When she told him she was going to Scotland, he tried to say, “Ahhh, Scotland” in a Scottish accent as if he knew what he was talking about, but choked and needed a glass of water. Effectively shamed, he remained silent the rest of the trip.
The final plane was from London to Edinburgh. She was first off the plane because she travelled light --only a book (The DaVinci Code) and her purse—and went through the long tunnel leading to the main lobby of the airport. She scanned all of the names on the taxi drivers’ cards: MacAidie, Mackenzie, Gordon, Sanchez. A bit flustered, she turned away, then stopped. There it was again; her name. She wheeled around the see a tiny woman hobbling toward her, waving stiffly.
“Seonag, dear,” the old woman called again, but softer this time, seeing that she’d been noticed. “I don’t suppose you’d remember me? I came to visit once. Your aunt, Margaret?”
Seonag shook her head slowly, trying to understand this strange woman’s thick accent.
“Oh well,” the woman patted her hand and turned away, in the direction of the luggage claim. Seonag followed her.
“How do you know who I am?” Seonag asked. The woman turned and grinned at her. Seonag saw that, despite the woman’s bent spine and shuffling steps, she was far from senile. She could tell that, in her younger years, this woman must have been quite the character.
“Your uncle Andrew said it would be improper to let you take a taxi all that way, and you look just like your mother, dear.” She giggled. “Andrew’s in the car. I’ll give him a ring so he can come help you with your bags.” And to Seonag’s shock, the old woman pulled out a cell phone, dialled, and began talking.
“Andrew, dear…yes, I’ve got her. She’ll need some help. All right. Goodbye.” She pulled the phone away from her ear, squinted at it a moment and poked a button decisively before restoring it to her pocket. “He’ll be just a moment, dear,” she said, and patted Seonag’s hand again. What kind of place is this? Seonag thought.