By: Bruce Levine
Friday seemed like it would never come. If the time was distance and it was measured in lightyears it would still be incalculable. For Wendi Blake time had definitely stood still. The reality was that it was only three days between Tuesday and Friday, seventy-two hours, but reality didn’t matter, only the paralyzed hands of the clock on her bedroom wall as she watched and waited.
Easter vacation began as soon as the school day ended on Friday and her parents had promised to take the family on a special vacation. They’d refused to say what it was or where they were going and all of her guessing proved fruitless. It was as if her parents had suddenly become deaf and mute or, at least, certainly unresponsive.
She’d tried all of the usual guesses: Disneyland, a cruise to the Caribbean, a variety of theme parks, a week in London to see all the shows they could cram in or even a resort in Fiji. Nothing she guessed or said had any effect on her resolute parents.
Her siblings tried multiple assortments of suggestions, but they too were met with the same mute response.
Now all Wendi could do was wait.
Another problem was that all of her teachers seemed to have piled on the homework in anticipation of the week away from the classroom. She always wondered if there was some sort of conspiracy among teachers and that they secretly met to compare notes on how much homework each assigned during that previous week to make sure that every student was sufficiently loaded with work. She’d hoped that at least in her senior year that wouldn’t be the case, but now that graduation was only a couple of months away she discovered that there was no such reprieve, but, actually, almost a sense that her teachers had redoubled their effort to inflict as much pain as possible in the final days before freedom. Wendi even wondered if her teachers would assign a reading list for the summer following her graduation. Maybe, she thought, they’d each been in contact with her forthcoming college and acquired a list of assignments that the college expected completed as a precursor to entry in the freshman class.
She looked at the clock and then at the pile of books on her desk. Both seemed overwhelming in their own way.
Her new conclusion was that, if she did the homework, time would pass. It was inevitable, a law of nature, but that didn’t help her sense of anticipation.
At last! The last class of the day. Now there were only fifty minutes remaining and the four-mile drive home where all the suitcases were packed and awaiting her return before departure time. Her mother had told her to pack a minimal wardrobe which made the secrecy even more difficult to understand. On past vacations, she’d always included a wide assortment of clothes ranging from super-casual to super-stylish evening attire. This time her mother had been very explicit about leaving out both ends – “Just take some jeans and tops,” her mother had told her. What kind of special vacation included such a dearth of wardrobe? Maybe her parents had finally lost it, she thought, and that the new idea of some place special was an apple farm in Vermont.
Wendi had dutifully packed as her mother instructed, but, as the seconds ticked away during her last class, her mind drifted and, again, she ran through the entire list of possibilities. It didn’t help that this was her least favorite class of the day and that her teacher remained relentless in using every last minute until the bell rang. She guessed that there was no reprieve for the wicked, and not focusing on the class, in her teacher’s eyes, constituted wickedness. Wendi didn’t care.
Her parents and siblings were already assembled and waiting along with an array of suitcases Wendi had never seen before. Now, she realized, that the reason her mother had told her to pack so little had nothing to do with the sparsity of what she’d need, but that by some miracle her mother had packed for her. She wondered what was in the suitcases, but the anticipation of learning what the trip was overcame her curiosity.
“We have a six o’clock flight,” her father announced. “Let’s go.”
Everyone grabbed a couple of suitcases and headed toward the car. Her parents lagged behind and watched as Wendi looked at the tag attached to her suitcase.
Welcome to Dubai, it said. The home of the rich and famous.
Wendi screamed with joy, hugged her parents, and ran to the car.
“I guess we did it,” her mother said as she and Wendi’s father followed.