“I can’t believe you roped us into this stupid cruise,” Sarah said in a tone of voice that clearly carried her frustration with parents who never appreciated her very important social calendar. She stood in the middle of her parents’ bedroom with her hands on her hips, chin stuck out for emphasis.
“Sarah, we don’t want to hear another word about this. You’re going, and that’s final. Now go pack your bag.” Sarah’s father turned his back on her to walk into his large bedroom closet. She lost sight of him as he turned the corner. The closet, trimmed entirely in dark cedar, was larger than many of her friends’ bedrooms.
Sarah’s mom stepped over and took Sarah’s hands in hers. “I’m sorry, sweetie, but your father is right. We’re all going, and you can’t stay behind. It’s important for your dad’s business that we all be there. But don’t look so glum – it’s going to be fun!”
Sarah knew her mother was trying to sell her on the idea by using her especially chipper, upbeat voice. The annoying one. She rolled her eyes and pulled her hands away. “Oh, please. Like being stuck out in the middle of the ocean with you guys and those loser Buckley kids could ever possibly be fun. Not in a million years, Mom. I’m not in the damn chess club, you know.” The thought of being on a cruise with the two Buckley nerds was too much. Sarah had a boyfriend and a convertible, neither of which was going on this cruise. What was so difficult for her parents to understand?
Sarah’s mom sighed and walked over to the dresser without responding, putting her fingers up to her temples to massage them. Confrontation wasn’t her strong suit, and Sarah used this to her advantage as often as possible.
Sarah’s father, on the other hand, wasn’t one bit shy about going head-to-head. He stepped out of the closet carrying an armload of things for his suitcase. Without even sparing her a glance he said, “Don’t talk to your mother that way, Sarah. Just go pack.”
“But … ”
“Not another word, or you’re going to be very sorry.” He caught her eye, giving her one of his famous warning looks.
Sarah knew what that meant. Either he was going to take away the keys to her car and turn her into a social castaway or forbid her from seeing her boyfriend Barry.
She turned and stormed from the room in a huff. She tried to stomp her feet for emphasis, but they didn’t make a sound on the heavily padded, ultra thick carpeting. It was very unsatisfying.
On her way down the hall she stopped off at her twin brother’s room and leaned in the doorway. Her eyes scanned the sports posters on the wall, the thirty or so perfectly arranged trophies on the shelves, and the small modern metal and glass desk with a computer sitting on it. He was always so neat with his stuff. “Kev, can you believe this crap? It’s total B.S., right?”
Sarah’s brother Kevin was packing a duffle bag he used for rugby. She watched him move back and forth, grabbing things from different places. He always looked so at ease with himself. His muscled arms and back showed how hard he worked out so he could excel at his favorite sport. He was like most rugby players – he laughed at football players because they had to wear pads and helmets. Rugby players had to worry every game about broken bones and ears being bitten off, or so he said.
He continued to open drawers, pulling out wads of clothes and shoving them into his bag as he responded. “Whatever. I’m gonna go to the all-you-can-eat buffets and put them out of business. Then I’m gonna drink beer until I puke. Then we come home. No big deal.” He didn’t bother looking up.
Sarah snorted in disgust, a look on her face as if she’d smelled something bad. “Is that all you ever worry about? Food and beer?”
“What else is there to worry about?” he asked, dead serious.
“What about Gretchen? She’s not going to be there.”
“But there will be other girls, and Gretchen isn’t the only fish in the sea.” He sniggered at his own poor cruise joke.
“I’ll bet she wouldn’t be so thrilled to hear you say that.”
He looked up at his sister to fix her with his threatening look. “She’s not going to hear anyone say that, or else.”
He sounded just like their dad. Sarah was sick of being threatened, but she knew that Kevin meant either he would share one of her secrets or he’d tackle her and mess up her hair – totally not worth it.
Gretchen probably had no clue that her brother was just using her like he did all the girls before her. The only thing he really cared about was rugby – and food and beer, of course. When he went to rugby parties, there was always beer there, provided courtesy of the older alumni of the team who still came to watch matches and party afterwards.
Sarah continued, “Whatever. I’m not going on this cruise and pretending like I’m having fun. We’re gonna be stuck with those Buckley idiots the entire time, I just know it.”
She paused in her ranting to carefully admire her latest manicure. Her nails were a rosy pink with white tips – flawless. Her skin was already very carefully bronzed to match her summer outfits. Her hair was expertly highlighted. All of it was going to be wasted on this stupid business cruise.
Kevin paused in his packing to spare her a glance. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll ditch ‘em as soon as Mom and Dad aren’t around, and I’ll make sure they keep it to themselves and don’t rat us out.”
Sarah stood up straight and took a step into the bedroom. “Ooh, are you going to threaten them? That should be entertaining.”
“No, I’m not going to threaten the twerp or his sister. I’m just going to explain to them that they’ll have much more fun doing things with other kids more their speed.” He stopped, pointing a finger at his sister. “And don’t take another step into my room, or I’m gonna tackle your scrawny butt and mess up your hair.”
She gingerly stepped back, knowing her brother wasn’t kidding. Then she continued, “Awesome. That’s one issue out of the way, at least.” Sarah was picturing Jonathan and Candace Buckley, who she saw from time to time at school in the hallways or at lunch. What is it with those people who can’t even look in the mirror and see what they’re wearing, anyway? she thought to herself.
“Consider it done.” Kevin finished packing his duffle bag, zipped it up with one quick, practiced motion, and threw it over his shoulder.
“Sounds like a plan,” said Sarah, holding her hand up for a high five as he came towards the door.
Their hands met with a loud crack. “I’m outta here. Tell Mom I’ll be back before four.”
“Tell her yourself. I have to pack for this disaster.” She pushed off the doorframe, stepped around him, and went into her room across the hall.
She didn’t bother to answer, other than to slam the door in his face as he walked by. She could hear him muttering behind the door, walking down the hallway towards the stairs.
She reached under her bed, pulled out her Louis Vuitton suitcase and carry-on make up case and put them on the bed. She turned towards her huge closet, throwing open the doors. So, what does a girl wear on a cruise from hell? As her eyes landed on the short, black skirt her aunt had bought for her on their last shopping spree, an evil glint came into her eye. Well, this little number for starters…
Her parents were going to be sorry they forced her to go on this stupid trip. She laughed out loud thinking about her revenge.