Keisha opened the door of the suite, struggling to hold onto both her luggage and the key. After a while, she got the door open and shoved in her luggage, relieved.
Tess and Leesh’s faces made perfect ‘O’s as they gazed at the suite. They dumped their suitcases to the side absent-mindedly and explored. Keisha quickly put her bag to the side as well and put her sunglasses on a small table near the door.
She started walking around the suite.
It was pretty big. The girls had entered what looked like a living room, with flower-print armchairs, a coffee table and bookshelves lining the wall, all sitting on a beautiful, flower-print rug. To the left was the bedroom with three single beds, each with golden sheets. The bathroom had a luxurious-looking bathtub with bottles of bath bubbles and bars of soap to the side. The shower was huge and the toilet sparkling white.
To the right of the living room was the dining room and small kitchen. The kitchen had a microwave, a pantry full of treats and basic ingredients, a fridge full of juice, soda and water and drawers full of plates, cutlery and bowls.
Beside the kitchen was a dining table of glass and chairs of wood. In the middle of the table was a vase containing primroses and daisies.
The final surprise was the balcony. The three girls were very lucky that they didn’t get a room below deck because the balcony looked out towards open sea. Wind made the soft white curtains flutter. Tess, Leesh and Keisha leaned on the railings and let the wind caress their faces. The view of the sea made Keisha feel happy and relaxed. She could spend hours on a deck chair, just lying there.
Principal Ivory’s voice came from the corridor outside. “Everybody, meet in the ballroom! I’ve slipped a map under your door!”
Keisha walked back to the door and grabbed the map which Principal Ivory had, indeed, slipped under the door. It was quite a detailed map of the whole ship. There were many function rooms and activity areas, as well as restaurants and the rooms.
“Guys, we’ve gotta go to the ballroom,” Keisha said.
Tess pouted. “Just when I was thinking about getting a deck chair and sitting there forever.”
“I was thinking exactly that!” Keisha gasped.
Leesh giggled and said, “Same!”
The girls made their way down the corridor, struggling to move quickly in the big line of seventh-graders also making their way to the ballroom. The girls were pushed and squashed like innocent pancakes. Somehow, Leesh, Tess, Keisha and the map survived and found the ballroom.
The seventh-graders swung open great, oak wood doors. The ballroom was just as enchanting as the ship. A huge crystal chandelier hung from the roof and round tables with white tablecloths lined the edges of the ballroom. There was a stage at the front where Principal Ivory was standing, microphone in hand.
The girls took a seat on the floor near the back of the seventh-grade group. They looked expectantly at the principal, patience wearing thin. They couldn’t wait to experience and explore the ship.
“Today’s Day One of our five-week excursion. We expect you to follow all instructions and abide by the rules, or we can call a water taxi to bring you to the nearest airport. Curfew is eleven o’clock and it is forbidden for any passengers to go into the control room, store-room or engine room without permission from the crew. You can go to any activity or restaurant for free but if you wish to shop at the stores, you’ll have to pay for that yourself. Have a good time on June, everybody!”
Keisha grinned and ran out of the ballroom with Tess and Leesh.
“Oh, my God, where should we go first?” Keisha squealed. “We could go rock climbing, or swimming-”
“Or go to the spa, or the shops-” Tess suggested hopefully.
“Or the library!” Leesh said finally. Tess and Keisha raised an eyebrow at her.
“I reckon we should unpack our suitcases go visit everyone first,” Keisha said, not waiting for an agreement.
She linked arms with them and pulled the two back to the area where the rooms were. They swung the suite’s door open and took the things out of their bags. To Tess’s relief more than anyone else’s, there were three large wardrobes with golden, fake gem-encrusted hangers.
“C’mon, who should we visit first?” Keisha asked.
“We’ll come across everyone sooner or later. For starters, I want to go shopping,” Tess said airily.
“How much money have you got?” Leesh asked.
“Twenty dollars,” Tess sighed, pouting. Keisha laughed and scanned the map.
“Hey, why don’t we visit the kitchen?” Keisha asked suddenly. “It’s not listed as an activity, of course, but it doesn’t say you can’t visit. It’ll be interesting to see.”
Leesh shrugged but Tess scowled and pointed to her short, yellow, spaghetti-strap dress.
“I don’t want to wreck this. Besides, who wants to watch creepy guys with big hats and big knives chop up random stuff?” Tess said.
“We do,” Keisha chuckled. “You can stay here, if you want.”
Tess flopped down on one of the armchairs and picked up a magazine. She grinned and agreed to stay.
Leesh and Keisha slipped into their thongs and walked down the corridor, eyes glued on the map.
They bumped into a few walls and people on the way and Leesh almost fell into the remote-control boat racing pond, but they eventually made it to the grey doors of the kitchen.
Keisha pushed open the door into a small space between the doors to outside and the doors to the kitchen.
“Weird…” Keisha mumbled, referring to the fact there were two doors you had to pass through to get to the kitchen.
A man burst out from the kitchen doors, a furious expression on his face. In his hand he held a shining steak knife and held it high, ready to lodge it deep into one of the girls’ hearts.
Keisha gave Leesh a “goodbye” look. It would be goodbye forever.