‘Wow, darling, you’re doing brilliantly. You’re doing so well.’
The same could not be said for Mother whose cheeks had lost all their colour and whose eyes were pooling with tears. ‘Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,’ she began. ‘Going on a plane is so exciting,’ she added, her voice tailing off weakly. Clearly her true feelings belied her encouraging words. I could feel the thud-thud-thud of her anxious heartbeat beneath me and her disgustingly clammy hands which were gripped onto my tummy. ‘Get your sweaty mitts off me,’ I yelled, furiously, but Mother didn’t seem to hear.
Otherwise engaged, as she apparently was, with swigging eagerly from a little miniature bottle which Father proffered in front of her. As she took another generous slug I realised that she reminded me of myself when falling upon my first bottle of the morning. I have often wondered what I have in common with Mother – she is annoying and melodramatic and I am pleasant and calm – so I was interested to note this little similarity. I was also interested to note that Father had come prepared for this journey with the little bottle of liquid magic which appeared to be returning some of the colour to Mother’s face.
‘It’s going to be so relaxing. So restful. Just a chance to chill out. Bliss,’ Mother had declared beatifically that morning. But there had been nothing blissful about events so far. Especially not at the airport where Mother had been roundly scolded for over packing, my case apparently. ‘The baby is only allowed ten kilos,’ the lady had chastised Mother firmly. ‘But that’s ridiculous,’ Mother had retorted, furiously. ‘Everyone knows that babies can’t travel lightly.’ I eyed Mother incredulously. I wouldn’t mind if she was speaking in my defence, as she claimed, but I knew for a fact that my so called ‘case’ was full to the brim with her shoes. The woman is a pathological liar, and frequently involves me in her fabrications of the truth. Just the other week she’d overspent on the credit card and had claimed, angrily, to Father that she’d been buying ‘things for your daughter, for your information. Honestly, some people….’ Yet I hadn’t seen many items purchased for me on that afternoon of enthusiastic shopping we’d spent with Grandma when Mother had been waving that piece of plastic about with abandon.
After a brief row with Father over the additional costs incurred by Mother’s overzealous packing – ‘Oh, it’s worth it though, we’re on holiday,’ said Mother, with a shrug to which Father had replied, darkly: ‘You can’t keep using that as an excuse for everything. Especially not that credit card bill,’ he added, clearly not willing to let go of the truth now that he had finally discovered it – we were ready for the off.
Well, we were. But the plane wasn’t.
‘How much longer,’ fumed Mother, running a hand through her hand. She looked rather tense and I suspected that the effect of the glass of wine ‘for my nerves’ she’d had a little earlier was starting to wear off. ‘Bloody missing out on good quality holiday time now. I need to start relaxing.’ I decided to add my opinion to proceedings: ‘Stop moaning Mother,’ I screamed loudly so she would hear. ‘You’re embarrassing me.’ Strangely, my thoughts on the subject didn’t seem to have the desired effect and instead Mother became tearful: ‘And now the baby’s crying. Maybe we should just forget it and go home.’
But it was too late for any about turns now as we appeared to be rather a long way from the ground. Mother took a final swig from the little bottle and her good humour was restored. ‘I’m all right once I get up here,’ she confided to the lady seated beside her, who fixed her with a disapproving stare in response. I didn’t blame her. My parents constantly behave in a way that invites criticism.
I would like to be able to tell you all about the view from those windows, of the clouds and the sky. I would like to tell you what actually happened during the flight and whether or not Mother received a well-deserved berating from the censorious lady beside her. But I can’t because annoyingly I fell into a deep and protracted sleep. It was like being in my car seat, the movement of the aircraft lulling me into a peaceful slumber. When I finally woke up, long after we were back on the ground, I was not happy. The first time Mother and Father take me on a truly interesting journey – instead of just a stroll in the rain to the supermarket – and I had slept through it. This was an unhappy turn of events and I hoped sincerely that this so-called holiday would improve imminently. But I wasn’t holding out much hope.