Chapter Five

It might be a little difficult to grasp the context not having read the first few chapters, but I’m particularly happy with this one and don’t really want to post my book up chapter by chapter…. So here’s a little snapshot. Let me know what you think!

Kimberly smiled as Cassidy opened the door to the taxi, “So,” she said, sitting down, “What happens once we get there?”

After directing the driver to the international airport she replied, “Well, we take another cab to our hotel, rest for a day then meet with Mr. Smith on Thursday. Though I have very strict instructions.”

They passed through the gate to Cassidy’s property and headed for the motorway passing an array of elaborate estates as they did.

“What instructions?” Kimberly enquired curiously.

“Well,” her Aunt began glancing briefly at the driver so as to ensure that he wasn’t listening in too closely. “We’re not to meet them as one would normally, per se, but rather, it’s more of a secretive thing.”

She paused for a moment then went on, “We’re to go to an office, of which I have the address, only Mr. Smith informed it shall be empty. He said this would somehow deter any followers, god knows why anybody would be following two entirely average Australians though.”

They were now speeding down the motorway and were less than twenty minutes from checking in.

“And what then?” Kimberly said. “Obviously they won’t be in an empty office, hence the very definition of empty.”

Cassidy laughed. “No, they won’t. But we have instructions for that too.”

“Which are?”

“Upon finding the empty office we are to appear ‘bewildered’, as he put it, then, he said we should wander aimlessly along the street as though we are lost. As though we have no idea why on earth nothing was there.” Cassidy paused for a moment to look out the window at the passing desolate landscape. “Apparently it’s vital that he ensures the whole ordeal is inconspicuous.”

“That’s weird.”

“Isn’t it,” she said, “But oh well. I suppose we’ll find out soon.”

“What next?” Kimberly asked.

“Well, apparently, and between precisely 10:03 and 10:11, one of Mr. Smith’s associates will find us and lead us where we need to go.” She hesitated for a moment to wind down her window, frowning slightly as she did. “Though he did say we were to be especially cautious here.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m not sure exactly,” Cassidy said, “But I assume it’s got something to do with not knowing what on earth this person looks like.”

“He didn’t send a photo or anything? How the hell are we supposed to know who to trust?”

“I guess we don’t.”

“Well that’s just great isn’t it,” she said, suddenly nervous about the next few days. “What do we do then?”

“Well, exactly what Mr. Smith said…We wait for a women named Rose Elliott, apparently she will have a red silk scarf tied to her bag.”

“Because that’s so unique.”

“Don’t be a smart ass.”

“Ok, well then what?”

“We simply wait, and wander, until she asks for directions to a local deli.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. Apparently there’s a little place around the corner from there that sells the most incredible blue Danish cheese.”

They both laughed and the driver slowed to shift into the departures lane. Billboards lit the way towards the terminal. Soon enough they had checked in and made their way through security. And although their flight didn’t leave for an hour and a half, Kimberly didn’t mind. She had always found airports to be quite enjoyable.

“God, I hate flying.” Cassidy announced as they followed the waiter to a small table overlooking the tarmac.

“I love it.”

“Why?” She replied, placing her coat neatly on the back of the chair before taking a seat.

“A lot of reasons. I love the fact that within one day you can be almost anywhere. Ok, maybe more than a day for some places, but it’s still incredible don’t you think?”

“Not if you’re dead,” she replied firmly.

They perused the menu for a moment then gave their order. It was an Italian place with an adjacent bar, perfect for those looking to settle their pre-flight nerves. Much like herself in a moment, Cassidy thought.

“Relax,” her niece said. “It’ll be fine. Surely you’ve flown lots before?”

“Not really. And it doesn’t make it any easier dear. You can watch a Stephen King movie ten times but you’ll still never be completely prepared. I just can’t wrap my head around the whole technology of it all, and all those crashes we hear about? By golly I do not want to die like that.”

“Yes, but the chances of it actually happening to you, Cass, are extremely slim.” The waiter returned with their order, placing the dishes of freshly made ravioli before them. He then poured two glasses of wine and left silently. “You have nothing to worry about,” she said, taking a bite of the steaming pasta.

“Everybody always thinks that though, that’s precisely the problem. That we believe we’re invincible, but we’re not. Death is all around us Kimberly and until we start to recognise that, then life is merely a waiting game for the grand finale – our last breath.”

Kimberly smiled, she loved the types of conversations that sat dangerously close to quarrels. “Yes, but it’s beautiful none the less right? So I suppose I’m going to have to disagree with you Cass, if we live our lives focusing on how mundane it all is then what’s the point? That mindset is simply depressing. You just cannot live like that.”

“On the contrary,” she replied, gulping her wine, “it’s the only way to live.” Then reached for another mouthful of the delicious Italian treat.

“Why do you say that?”

“What you’re saying, is that we should pretty much ignore the human condition and live in a fantasy. You think that happiness is simply a matter of focusing on all the beautiful things in life. But the thing is, there’s really not much beauty. Our world is cruel, our lives are short and we’re all following similar timelines. So, my dear, it is rather depressing, but only by realising this can we truly achieve anything with our life.”

Kimberly hesitated before speaking as she tried to take in her Aunts words. “But to me, that idea seems a little cynical. I’d much rather choose to be happy every day than admit the world is depressing.”

“So it would be an admission? Meaning you know it’s true you just can’t bring yourself to say so.”

“Somewhat.”

“Why is it so difficult to say dear?”

“What you’re saying, this whole ideology of reality being a horrible place and our lives mere accidents. It’s the kind of mindset mum had?”

“Oh, not entirely sweetie.”

“Pardon?”

“Well,” she paused, unsure how to quite explain what she had in mind. “You mother was a little more, how do I say it, radical? Yes she believed in the boredom and cruelty of everyday life, but there was more. She seemed to think there were ‘special coincidences’ scattered throughout time. That we are all kind of predestined to follow particular paths.”

“Oh…”

“The problem with this,” she continued, “Is that it puts one in a troubling predicament, setting you up with unreasonable expectations of life. And of course, when reality doesn’t quite meet up to those expectations, then, well, you know what happens.”

“Thanks for making my day. That’s the one thing I wanted to be reminded of.”

“I’m sorry dear, but you asked.”

“Yes, but…”

“But nothing,” she interrupted. “I don’t mean to be harsh, but unless you begin to realise these sorts of things then you’re in great danger of heading down the same unfortunate path. And I love you far too much to let that happen.”

Kimberly wondered if her Aunt would honestly dare bring this up. What happened to human decency and respect? Those sorts of silly little matters that dictate that we ought to treat each other with some sort of courtesy at least. Perhaps not though, perhaps there comes a point in all bonds between people were politeness is no longer required. A boundary that is only ever crossed after a certain amount of trust is reached and a fair amount of time has passed. A boundary between being overly considerate and blunt. Sometimes brutal honesty is needed. Everybody needs somebody to pull them up on particular occasions and point out particular flaws, didn’t they? But that wasn’t really what she was doing, what her Aunt seemed to be doing now was almost unfathomable. It was as though she had no respect for Susan’s death at all.

“Pardon?” Kimberly said, half expecting her Aunt to revoke all she had said.

“I’m sorry dear, but it’s true. I honestly don’t mean to be rude.”

“It’s fine.”

It wasn’t, but she wasn’t going to say so now. They were on the cusp of an adventure. And Kimberly, after all, did love her Aunt so it seemed only fitting to brush aside her comment.

Because, after all, that’s what love does to you doesn’t it? Despite the pain, betrayal and nonsense you always end up right back at the start – stuck with all those silly feelings all over again. Sure that definition mightn’t be applicable to every situation, but the idea of unconditional love goes hand in hand with forgiveness. And true forgiveness means letting go of grudges and giving that person the chance to make things right.

“Dear?” Cassidy said, breaking her thoughts. “We should finish up, we need to be at the boarding gate in fifteen minutes and I need to pop into the newsagency before then.”

Kimberly agreed and quickly finished her meal. They paid the check and wandered down through the terminal. She observed the passing crowd, as they walked, turning all of the strange characters into stories within her mind.

That old man crawling along with his walker was about to see his estranged son for the first time in twenty-five years. The lady followed closely by a trio of rowdy toddlers had just been offered her dream position. The only problem being it was halfway across the country and their father was in hospital with terminal cancer. Finally, she thought, the teenage romance brewing between the young couple interlocking tongues and crying next to gate fifty-two, was still a story in the making. And, she concluded, it was one of those rare passions that, against all odds and societies expectations, would actually last. She smiled, and headed over to where her Aunt was comparing two different reads from the best seller’s wall.

Cassidy soon settled on a personal development book advocating the unused power of the brain and a Warren Buffet biography. Whereas Kimberly picked up a copy of the National Geographic, a Fitzgerald classic and bag of strawberries and creams.

Waiting at the boarding gate they both signed the date, and their destination into the covers of the new books. It was a family tradition, or had been, for Susan at least. Then, they jumped straight into reading and soon enough, found themselves seated on the airplane listening to a robot-like flight attendant repeat the emergency safety instructions to a crowd of uninterested monkeys.

© Celsie Richardson 2015

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