I wanted that journey to go on forever. Well, at the beginning anyway. We had left Belgium in the morning, all of us reluctant to arrive at our 'final destination', but the day progressed. The atmosphere in the car became tense, and the distance on the map didn't seem to change with the passing hours.
The inhabitants of the car are completely oblivious to the outside world. My parents were thinking only of their petty arguments and minor discomforts. The landscape changed with the mood, as they began to descend into the routine that they would have taken up every hour or so from now on. The tar on the road sizzled; fantasies distort vision and reflect light into a glazed eye. They only thought of themselves.
My little sister, Emma, said "It's my turn on the Game Boy."
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"No, it's mine." I said.
"Just give it to Emma. She's youngest." Mother said.
"Where are we on the map now?"
"I WANT IT NOW!" Emma said.
"I don't know; look for yourself, Mother said, "Now give Emma the game boy Naz."
"Can't you all just be quiet? I'm trying to read." I shouted angrily.
"Don't you speak to me like that young lady"
That was the reaction I got from both of my parents as I asked them to keep the noise down. We hadn't moved from this spot for 2 hours. And it was Emma's turn on the Game Boy. And I only wanted to play it to get on Emma's nerves. I could have told them that, but I would have just gotten the same unreasonable reaction, that because I was 10, I didn't have a clue about anything.
The noise began to settle as we listened to our repetitive music and the toneless instructions of the navigator. Each of us was thinking about an incident vivid in our own mind, but forgotten by others. We only thought of our own importance, and the mark we left on others. We were self contained and self absorbed.
We were heading for Cornwall. For all of us except my dad, it was for the first time in three years. It was understandable that they spent most of the long hours lecturing us on manners while we were caged in the car- we had to make a good impression. They were our family though. Should we really have to make an impression on them? Aren't they supposed to know us better than we even know ourselves? Sometimes things aren't what they are assumed to be though.
They suspect the feeling of awkwardness that undercurrents their arrival. It will be smothered by joyfulness, present giving and drink. Concern for each other's appearance makes them interfering. Hills roll past, and the hateful sun is shining straight down onto the car holding them like packed vegetables.
Slowly the car crawled down the stretch of motorway, which the sun was slowly melting. The car had been a shelter from the heat at the beginning of the journey, but then we could feel the effects of it. The angrier and more frustrated we got the warmer the car grew. As the batteries ran out, everyone's books were finished, and we still didn't look like we had moved all that much further we ignored each other and concentrated on ourselves. I was thirsty, my arms were itchy with sweat, my legs were cramped, and I still didn't see why I was the one that always had to read Emma a story, ever since Emma was 5 years old.
"Why can't she read it herself?" I said furiously.
"Because, I asked you to do it" My mother answered me angrily.
"Then ask her."
"She cannot read. And now just do it."
So I went on to read 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' with as much feeling as I would read a recipe.
Slowly as we got closer and closer to Cornwall we forgot every reason we had for not wanting to get there. A huge proper Sunday roast, which would no doubt be on the table when we arrived, sounded like heaven. It was our cousin Alan's birthday, and the cake would be huge and covered in chocolate. We had had experiences of birthday cakes before in Cornwall. They were always worth the journey.
We had a CD on in the car. It was Robbie Williams. We always listened to Robbie Williams and Van Morrison on long car journeys. Everything seems to merge together after a while though, just drowning out the sound of the car and each other.
We were separated and isolated from each other as though in separate cages. We expected no communication. We gave none. We could only think ahead.
By the time that there was only about an hour to go of this pain staking driving us were all looking forward to Cornwall like it was the 'Promised Land'. Every accident was forgotten. We only remembered the food and drink we would be given, the early Christmas and late birthday presents.
We were just coming up the drive of the house when the door opened and every single relative I remember, some that I didn't remember, and some that I didn't even know came swarming down the drive. Within minutes we were all crowded round a huge dining table, ready to begin.
The accidents were forgotten. They had successfully implanted themselves in this household. They would not let it out of their grasp until they left exhausted and overfed, to return to their ordinary routine of work. Believe that we had had a holiday.
Remember. This is just a sample.
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