“W-what?” Keisha cried, burying her head in her hands. She looked back up at her mom. “Hang on, I thought we changed companies and you worked it out with Mrs. Munson…” she said suspiciously.
“I know,” Keisha’s mom said between snorts. She undid her neat, auburn bun and grinned at the girls. “Darling, you’re definitely going! I need a little work rest, anyway. One less to look after will be good for me.”
Keisha screamed and jumped up and down, then strangled her mom in a tight hug. Her happiness overwhelmed her anger at her mom for making a joke that was so crushing it hurt.
Leesh tittered and grabbed Keisha’s Ray-Bans which were sitting on the table. She folded her arms, puckered her lips and said, “Let’s go cruising.”
After Leesh went home, Keisha had a sleepless night. She tossed and turned, twisting her bed sheets as a dry washing machine would do and she groaned, grumbled and drooled with tire. It was unlike Keisha to stay up so long. Usually she fell asleep deeply within ten minutes and she snored. Tonight she seemed to be a completely different person.
It was midnight when she decided that trying to sleep wasn’t working at all, so she sat up and read a few chapters of Harry Potter. Then she just listened to her iPod and sung along to a few songs, soon realising that being tiresome showed in her voice. She made up dances and did crunches out of boredom. Parched, Keisha made her way down to the kitchen, poured herself a glass of water and tip-toed back upstairs.
She tried out one casual hairstyle she could use when she’d go on the excursion with all the seventh-graders. The only light came from a crack under the door and her torch, so she lit a candle that cast a dim light around the room and made the shadows dance. Then she could try out more hairstyles with better light.
After that, she opened her curtains, carried her chair to the window and sat in it, staring out at the millions of tiny lights like stars in the darkness of night. She just sat there, waiting until the little line of orange light appeared over the horizon when she could drag herself out of the cushioned chair and start the day.
At five-thirty in the morning, Keisha practically crawled out of her room, down the stairs and into the kitchen. Her mom was, of course, still sleeping. Dark bags had formed under Keisha’s eyes. She hadn’t been given a wink of sleep.
She threw some cereal into a finger bowl and splashed milk on. It overflowed and spilled out onto the kitchen bench. Keisha was oblivious and sat down on the living room couch, which was a forbidden eating zone. She nibbled her cereal lifelessly, like a robot, and left her bowl on the couch.
She walked, hunched over, up to her room and flopped onto her bed. Sleep greeted her as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Six hours later, Keisha rose from her slumber and waddled back downstairs. Six hours were sufficient for her – when she was little she’d always get up at five to watch the sunrise, so she was used to it.
Her mom was up, just putting some bread in the toaster, a fluffy salmon-coloured robe wrapped around her. She chuckled at Keisha.
“I see you’re really embracing vacation,” she said, pointing to the clock and getting out the butter and jam.
It was eleven.
Keisha shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. I mean, I’m gonna be away from this house for five weeks. Better embrace vacation.”
Keisha wasn’t so excited about the cruise because she was a tired, but she was still excited.
“Oh, that reminds me, I paid online last night and printed out the things-to-pack list,” Keisha’s mom said cheerfully, passing her daughter the sheet of paper.
“Thanks,” Keisha said. She wasn’t going to have breakfast because she’d already had it.
Keisha scanned the list. At the top it said that everyone had to meet at a certain place at the docks on Monday. Then it said all the essentials, like a toothbrush and underwear. It then told Keisha what type of clothes to wear and to bring a torch. Lollies weren’t permitted but jewelery was, and so were valuables. The note said in bold print that they wouldn’t be responsible for the loss of valuables.
It also had a big, boring paragraph about what to do if you had medication, but Keisha wasn’t interested in that. It said to bring a lightweight but pretty large suitcase and a smaller backpack, a pillow if Keisha wanted and a camera. Keisha decided she’d also bring her iPod.
Keisha ran up to her room and grabbed her suitcase and epic black backpack. She started to stuff everything in.
After her packing was done, Keisha looked at herself in the mirror. She had straight, brown hair which she didn’t really like but everyone else seemed to. Her face was pretty, but only a little, and her dark blue eyes were like the ocean, swimming with thoughts and expressions. Keisha rubbed her face with a little oil and started to work on her arriving-at-docks look.
She swished her lip gloss over her lips and spread it. Keisha hated all other make-up. She tied her hair up in a casual, loose bun and slipped into her favourite top and black skinny jeans. Struggling, she grunted and groaned until her black boots came on. Deciding it was too over-the-top, she stepped into thongs and put her fluoro green Ray-Bans on top of her head, enabling her to still see her eyes.
Keisha sighed and looked at her glossed lips. She remembered the day when her youth was taken from her. It was the first day of middle school, where she was introduced to all things teenager. Including make-up. Keisha hated most types of make-up because it reminded of her youth-stripping and it made her face look fake and plasticky anyway.
She waited for Monday.