I wake up, dizzy and grumpy. I have never been fond of sleeping on planes, my neck always ends up hurting. I sit up and look around. Eva is still passed out, dad is up but mom isn't, and it seems like the majority of the plane is asleep. I look over to dad and wave, trying to catch his eye.
"What?" He whispers.
"What time is it?" I ask.
"6:30 a.m." He replies, "Should be landing soon."
I dig through my bag to find my phone. I turn it on and check the notifications.
Remi: Miss u 2!
Kathryn: Have fun in London.
I text them back and then put my pillow away. I look out the window, down to the city. We are passing over the river and can see most of the city. I spot the ferris wheel everyone's always talking about, I believe the name is the "London Eye". It certainly doesn't look like an eye. I pull out my journal and looked through the list some close friends and I wrote. It was a list of things they wanted photos of, things to make me happy, things they'll send me pictures of. First one was an overhead view. I snap the picture and send it to all of them. I hope it makes them happy. I cross it off the list.
"Good morning passengers. We will be landing at Heathrow Airport soon, better wake up!" The pilot says.
"Pssst, Quinn," Dad whispers, but quite loudly, across the isle.
"What?" I say.
"Wake Eva up for me." He asks.
I look at Eva and flick her forehead. She doesn't wake up. I flick it again and again. She doesn't wake up.
"We're going down..." I whisper in her ear, then shake her.
She bolts up, "Wha...What?!"
"I'm just joking!"
"You jerk!" She says, then wacks me with her pillow.
"I tried flicking you, it didn't work! We're nearly there, put your things away."
"Flicking me isn't a good thing either."
I chuckle, then look down at myself. Leggings and a Yankee jersey. Do people over here know who the Yankees are? I hope so, or else choosing this shirt was a mistake. The plane starts to descend as an airport comes into view. It's huge, bigger than the ones in New York City. I wait, watching out of the window, for us to land. I see my mom, hovering over the chair, trying to be the first one out of the plane. After three minutes, we touch down onto the runway and they bring the corridor to us. I text my friends, "We have landed :)".
"Get ready to run." Mom says.
I give her a thumbs up and Eva nods. As soon as the doors open, we bolt up and get out of the plane. The sun shines brightly into the airport through the windows, and it hurts my eyes. The airplane was so dark compared to this.
"This way. Uncle and Aunt Williams will be waiting for us with their kids!" Dad says.
"The two nutballs?" I say. I didn't know they would be there! "I'm going back on the plane."
"Sean and Ian are not nutballs!" Mom yells, "My sister told me they are quite civilized."
"That's because she's their mom. You've lied about us to Aunt Lilly, too."
"She refused to have you over if you weren't potty trained. It was a simple lie."
"Look, do I have to share a room with either of them?" I ask. Please say no, please say no.
"No. You and Eva will sleep in the attic where they have set up two cots."
"Phew!" I say aloud.
We walk down to the conveyor belt and grab our suitcases. I put my backpack on my shoulders and pull my suitcase behind me.
“We need to check our passports,” Dad says. “The line starts over there.”
Dad starts walking to the line and we follow. The wait is shockingly quick and we are out of the passports zone by 7:00 a.m.
“Can I at least buy a coffee if I have to see those psychopaths?” I say, pointing to the airport Starbucks.
“Quinn! Stop being so mean to your cousins!” Mom yells at me. “You can not get coffee, we don’t have any money yet.”
This is going to be a truly, awful vacation. I follow my parents and Eva to the gate, where I can see Aunt Williams holding up a sign. “Welcome D'Amicos!!”, it reads in big purple letters. How I hate that woman. She was a jerk to my mother as a kid, abusing her emotionally and physically. For some reason, their relationship is fine now. The years before I was born, Aunt Williams was in prison for two years for drug use and armed robbery. Then, as soon as she was freed, she married an alcoholic. Uncle Williams claims he isn’t addicted anymore, but if you see their liquor cabinet, you know that’s a lie.
“Lilly!” Mom squeals, running to give Aunt Williams a hug.
“Caroline!” Aunt Williams yells.
“Hey, Quinn,” Dad bends down to whisper in my ear, “Be nice to them OK? I know they’re crazy, just deal with it.”
“But!” I try to say, but dad has already walked off to greet Uncle Williams.
I wander over to them, half hiding behind mom. I see Sean and Ian, playing with their remote-controlled cars near the seating area. Sean’s crashes into Ian’s leg, so Ian crashes his car into Sean’s foot. Baffoons.
“Quinn! Come here, girl!” Uncle Williams motions for me to come over. “You’ve gotten so big!”
I give him a quick hug, “I’m only 5’7”.”
“That’s pretty big to me! How have you been?”
“OK, the flight was tiring.”
“Oh, yes, you must be exhausted!”
Uncle Williams taps Aunt Williams on the shoulder, “Honey, we better get the cars ready.”
“How rude of us! Let me take your bags dear!” Aunt Williams grabs my suitcase, but I don’t let her take my backpack.
They gather Sean and Ian, then lead us to their cars. A Volvo and Nissan. Both of them are tiny. Aunt William puts my bag in the Volvo, so I open the door and sit in the back seat. Aunt Williams, Mom, and Sean get in the car with me.
“Hi, cousin!” Sean says, tapping me on the arm.
“Hello, Sean.” I reply, staring out the window.
“Do you want to see my toy car?” He asks.
Sean grabs his car and turns it on, “It can drive!”
Sean proceeds to put the car on the seats and drive it into my leg.
“That hurt!” I say, taking the car away from my leg.
“It’s fun though!”
“It is not!”
I open the window. The airport is behind us now, but you can still hear the airplanes taking off and landing.
“How much longer?” I ask Aunt Williams.
“About 45 minutes, why?”
“No reason.” I look down at my phone. Remi had sent me a picture of some building, while Kathryn hadn’t said anything. I takeout my earbuds and attach them to my phone. This was going to be a long 45 minutes.
“We’re here!” Aunt Williams says, in her overly cheery voice.
I look up from my phone. This is the ugliest house I have ever seen. First, it’s connected to two other houses. Second, the bricks look like they’re made out of crap and the windows look like they could fall apart if you breathed on them.
(Authors note: This is the house I’m basing it off of: https://www.knightfrank.co.uk/properties/residential/for-sale/nutbourne-street-north-kensington-london-w10/QPK180221)
“It’s so nice!” Mom says. I hope she’s lying, how could anyone think this house is nice?
Mom and I grab our bags out of the trunk and put them on the sidewalk. The others pull up to the house and do the same. Uncle Williams unlocks the front door and lets us inside.
“Welcome to the Williams House!” He exclaims.
I walk in and put my bag in the entryway. It is nice on the inside, I have to give it that, but it isn’t my style. It has wood and green everywhere.
“Where do we sleep?” Eva asks, lugging her bag behind her.
“We put two cots up in the attic.” Aunt Williams says. “It should be enough for you.”
“Wonderful,” I say, fake smiling.
“Let me show you the way.” Aunt Williams pushes past me to walk up the stairs. I follow behind, struggling to carry my bag up. When we get to the second-floor hallway, Aunt Williams reaches up and pushes a board in the ceiling. The board falls backward and a ladder falls into its place.
“How am I supposed to get this bag up?” I complain.
“Throw it, push it.” Aunt Williams says.
She leaves us there and walks downstairs.
“Eva, what if I climb up? You can then pass the suitcases to me.” I suggest.
“Yeah, sure.” Eva says.
I climb up the ladder and quickly look around. It isn’t disgusting, but the walls aren’t finished and the carpet has tons of stains. I go backs to the ladder and look down. Eva holds the bag above her head. I grab it by the handles and lift it. I set the bag down beside me. Then, she holds up my suitcase and I do the same thing.
Eva climbs up and looks around, “This place is OK.”
"OK? It's pretty crummy if you ask me." I fall down onto the uncomfortable cot. There's a stack of blankets in the corner, so I grab the ones I want.
"You're just upset you're missing the school trip." Eva says, grabbing the rest of the bags.
She is right. This summer there was going to be a big Junior-turning-Senior trip, right in the middle of July. There would be concerts and friends and... boys. Well, mostly friends, concerts, and food, but you always hear those stories. Everyone in my grade is going, except for me. Even Remi is driving back from Canada to go!
"So what if I am?" I say. I start putting the sheets onto my cot.
"You're in mother-fricking London!" She says. "You shouldn't be upset over some lousy highschool trip!"
"Look, you're not my therapist. Bug off."
"I may not be your therapist, but I can still talk some sense into you."
"Oh, just shut up!"