High school graduate Amelia looks forward to what promises to be the vacation of a lifetime with her parents and younger sister Helen; however, nothing is as it seems to be and something very strange is about to happen!
Written by Samantha James
I woke up to a sun-filled room that seemed to glow as golden as the heavens. The sunlight beamed in through the window offering a comforting warmth that seemed to sing out in joy. Perhaps, it was my mood. Last night had been my high school graduation and I could not have been more thrilled. There was an entire summer of leisure and fun in my present future. I was thrilled for this final goodbye to my childhood friends before we departed this fall to our separate colleges. Plans had been made for hanging out at the beach, taking long hikes, and all sorts of antics.
I yawned and stretched as I sat up in my bed throwing the covers off of me. I chuckled because in that moment my puppy had realized her master was waking up. My dog Emily was enthusiastically wagging her tail and jumping around in circles on my bed; while in between laps crawling up to my face and decorating it with her kisses. She was a tiny white terrier mix. This dog was the sweetness, kindness, and caring pet I ever had. I laughed more as I scratched her ears and gave her some attention she was after.
“Someone is happy today” I whispered half asleep as she turned to give me her belly demanding a tummy rub. I happily obliged my beloved puppy.
When I got out of bed I grabbed my robe and put some slippers to trudge out of my room in search of breakfast with Emily right on my heels. As I climbed down the stairs, I could hear my parents talking in the kitchen. The smell of bacon filled the air and made my mouth water from the fragrance. I had been too excited to eat much yesterday, so I was extra hungry this morning.
I entered the kitchen to find my father at the table reading the morning newspaper and my mother at the stove. She was still in her pajamas, so she must have not been awake for very long.
“I guess you had a late night too?” I asked her as I walked over to the stove to eye the food sizzling in the pan. It smelled delicious.
“It is almost ready, go have a seat, did you have fun at the party?” She asked.
“Yes, there was a bunch of people there, Caitlyn got wasted,”
“I hope there was not too much fun,” My father grumbled.
“Oh Dan, stop, I am sure it was all decent,” My mother chided.
“It was daddy, I only had a few drinks and was home by one as promised” I proudly declared sticking my tongue out in a faux show of immaturity I knew would get a laugh out of him.
“that’s a good girl, I am glad it was fun, your mother and I are very proud of your accomplishments, we have faith now that you will be able to support us in our old age,” He joked.
We all turned towards the kitchen opening when we heard my sister Helen stomping down the stairs. She always walked so loudly.
“Hi” she mumbled incoherently as she sat down rubbing her eyes and brushing the red curly mess of hair out of her face. I stood up and brought her a cup of coffee. She was three years younger than me and had just finished her first year of high school. She was not a morning person.
“Well girls” My mother said giving my father a conspiratorial look as she put two plates in front of my sister and me. I grabbed my fork and dived in to the eggs then took a sip of my own coffee.
“We have a surprise, a surprise for the family” said my mother.
“What” My sister quipped while rolling her eyes.
Don’t you just love young teenagers?
“We are going on a three week cruise this afternoon” she said smiling.
“No Way!” I exclaimed
“No really, what” my sister asked giving my parents dubious looks.
My sister and I both gave each other a look which in volumes said these two jokers are such liars. How could we afford such an expensive vacation?
“We are very proud of you Amelia, graduating high school is no small feat, and you girls are growing up, we want to do something as a family before you two are grown and living your own lives” my mother said.
The entire time my father had just been sitting there smiling. He was a man of few words. When he did speak it was usually a complaint.
“Well hurry and eat, you ladies need to pack” he said.
“Yes, hurry and go pack, we need to stop at your aunts to drop of the dog before we make it to the airport” My mother added.
With renewed excitement and anticipation we rushed through breakfast and went our seperate was to happily pack. This was going to be so much fun!
The evening found ourselves on a massive cruise ship that had ten decks, a gigantic pool, a spa, a live music lounge, a casino, an arcade, a huge theater, and a wonderful dining room that served the best food I had ever eaten. The family suite my parents booked had a tiny living space with couches. It included a separate bedroom for my parents and one for us. The rooms included a small closet and the entire suite had one bathroom to share between the four of us. It was a very nice for being so small and cramped besides who was going to mind? We were not going to be spending much time here. Our cabin was number 236 and was located on the second deck of the ship. There had to be at least a thousand people aboard.
This was going to be the best vacation I had ever had! The four of us couldn’t wait to get settled in and enjoy our time here.
Helen and I had decided to unpack and then we set off straight away to go exploring. There was tons of fun to find for us to do. We promised our parents we would meet them in the dining room for dinner in one hour. As we explored, we learned the theater was not only for movies. There was a large stage for real plays to be held. Helen thought this was lame, but I made a mental note to come back to see the show that would be performing tomorrow after dinner. I was certain my mother would love it.
We walked around the decks; the pool was amazing, so incredibly large it felt like a second attachment to the ocean. There were rafts that swiftly circled around the pool in a separate island that had rushing water; it looked like a blast. The pool also included two rather big water slides and a much tinier kid friendly pool that had sprinklers along with pool toys for young kids to enjoy. Off to the side were dressing rooms that included a sauna, sun-tanning booths, and private showers.
Once we checked out the pool and surrounding bars, we headed up to the fourth deck. This floor had an arcade, a casino, massage parlor, and a comedy club. There were also several fun rides and a large roller-coaster that seemed to glide over the entire ship. We also noticed a large ballroom that acted as a club. We sat watching people drinking and dancing to the latest pop songs the DJ was playing.
After we thoroughly searched the ship and saw all it had to offer we went down to the first floor in order to meet our parents for dinner.
In the dining room we could see them chatting with the steward that had been assigned to our cabin block.
She was an overweight middle-aged woman in a light pale suit. She had her blond hair cut right below her hairs and hand it neatly combed behind her ears. She was nodding at my mother as she fixed her glasses. I heard her speaking as we walked up to them.
“Yes, ma’am, I will personally ensure that your husband has a cup of coffee and newspaper brought to him every morning,”
“Oh girls, there you are! You remember our steward Mrs. Bolzien,” my mother inquired when she saw us.
“Good evening, Mrs. Bolzien” We both chimed at the same time.
She smiled and nodded at us.
“Well, you guys have a wonderful evening,” she said to my parent before adding as she walked away, “please page me should you need anything.”
Once we had all sat down and had ordered our meals we sat chatting with one another about all our discoveries. I told my mother about the play and we both agreed it would be something we would see the next evening.
My mother revealed that the ship offered snorkeling which sounded like lots of fun. I couldn’t wait to get out to sea.
“I am not going out in that ocean,” My sister immediately chimed in upon hearing my mother’s words before adding “You guys go have fun me and daddy will find something to do together,”
“I’m not going in the pool and do not want to hear any of that pop music you kids listen today,” my father grumbled.
My sister smiled at him “that’s fine, we can go to the casino or watch a movie,” she offered.
He nodded his agreement and began to relax. I did not blame him, sometimes; my sister could be trying and could only guess what he was thinking. Probably imagined spending time with Helen meant an impromptu MTV music video. I laughed quietly to myself. I was quite the crack up. The rest of dinner went by and as a family we all went to the Jacuzzi and watched the waves as we leisurely cruised the ocean.
The next morning I woke up quite early and saw everyone was still sleeping. I went out into the little living room and started thumbing through a couple magazines. The clock read 6:01 am. I realized it would be awhile before anyone woke up and really wanted breakfast so I left a little note which read:
NEED BREAKFAST, LOVE YOU, SEE YOU GUYS LATER, XOXO AMELIA
I got dressed and quickly made my way down to the dining hall. It was fairly deserted being such an early hour. I chose one of the outside tables so I could watch the end of dawn showing itself.
What a beautiful sight. The sun seemed to slowly rise and stretch itself out as if it were both bored and seductive at once, the true behavior of a goddess. Once I finished eating, I decided to take my time getting back to the room. Mother and I had planned to go snorkeling around ten so there was still plenty of time. I played a few rounds of poker in the casino and then some slots. When I saw the clock on the table read nine, I figured my family would just be getting up or in the dining hall.
I decided to go find them and made my way back first passing the dining hall again to see if they were there eating already but no one was there and so I assumed they were still in the room.
When I reached the second floor deck and turned onto my hall, I noticed something shocking. The doors now read 235 and then went straight to 237. There was no longer our cabin number anywhere. Was this possible? No, I must be delusional. I rubbed my eyes and walked closer but I had seen correct. Maybe I was on the wrong floor! Our suite couldn’t have just disappeared and where was my family? I turned around and saw a cleaning lady walking out of a room a few doors down and ran up to her.
“Is this the second floor?” I questioned eagerly.
“Yes, ma’am” she nodded.
“Where is cabin 236?”
She gave me a confused look before answering in her thick accent “No 236, only 235 and 237”.
What the heck was this lady on?
“No! There was a cabin 236.”
“No 236, never 236” She replied again.
“Yes there was, we have been in it since yesterday afternoon,” I told her rather desperately and annoyed.
“No 236” came out her mouth.
Disgusted I started screaming at her and told her to get the stewardess for this row of cabins. I sank to floor in tears and waited until I saw the blonde lady come up the stairs. This had to be a joke. Rooms don’t just disappear. The maid in a rush of jagged English and some other language spoke to the stewardess. I assumed explaining what I was after. The woman pityingly looked me over. I grimaced and wrapped myself up into a ball. I felt very cold all of a sudden.
“Walk with me sweetheart” She said as she motioned for me to stand up. I slowly rose and angrily questioned her about why the room was no longer there and that she had to help me find my family.
“Darling, I am going to explain something to you and I need you to remain calm,”
“Just tell me where my family is,” I begged.
“Your family died over two years ago in a car accident. You are here in a state program with other foster kids who were awarded this vacation through generous donations. Your cabin is up in 344 next to the other foster teens and your chaperone,” She calmly explained before continuing. “I can walk back with you and show you the room; I think I should have your chaperone make sure you are alright,”
“No, I was in room 236! I know I was! “
Then it all hit me. The day of my fifteenth birthday and how we had all been driving down the highway on a rainy night from a fancy restaurant in the town over from ours; my parents had taken us there to celebrate the occasion. It had been a very wet road and my father had been driving very fast, too fast when he lost control of the vehicle. We swerved out of control and flipped completely over. I remember being in the hospital while they told me I was the only survivor.
I turned to the lady with tears streaming down my face and simply said I remembered and would be alright. I just needed some air. She nodded and asked if I wanted her to go outside with me. I told her no and made way to the very top deck of the cruise ship. I looked around and could see people merrily walking about with their friends and realized how utterly alone I was. I had nobody except an aunt who allowed the state to take control of my life because she couldn’t raise a teenager. I was angry at the world, at my parents, at god, and everything. Nothing would be okay ever again.
That is when I did it.
I leaped from the highest deck of the cruise ship into the ocean. As I was falling, I felt the weight of the world release itself off of my shoulders. I smiled. The pain was no longer there. I could taste freedom from this despair. The second I hit the water I felt a cold shock and relished the sensation. As I lie in the water slowly sinking lower and lower my mind began to drift to my childhood and all the happy memories, my life had carried. I began to lose air and breathing began to be more and more difficult.
I shot right up out of bed in a panic. I looked around to see a sun-filled room that seemed to glow as golden as the heavens. The sunlight beamed in through the window offering comforting warmth that seemed to sing out in joy. I trembled and cried as I regained myself. I had never dreamed such a horrible dream in my entire life. My dog Emily was thrilled her master was waking up, but I brushed her aside as I raced out of bed and ran down the stairs. I could smell bacon in the air and my parents were well and alive in the kitchen.
When I entered the room, I rushed right to my mother and squeezed her tight into a never ending hug.
“Well, good morning my little high school graduate,” She chuckled.
“Mom, please tell me you and daddy don’t have a surprise for us today, do you?” I asked.
“Well, as a matter of fact we do, it is a surprise for the family,”
Horrified, I managed to stutter out “What is it”
Well, you will just have to sit down and wait for your sister now won’t you?” She said lightly.
Just at the moment we heard my sister loudly make her way down the stairs and watched her enter the kitchen
“Hi” she mumbled incoherently as she sat down rubbing her eyes and brushing the red curly mess of hair out of her face.
Well, we would just have to find out. I took a seat at the table.
© Samantha James and Samantha The Reader Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Samantha James and Samantha The Reader Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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