In a dirty, littered place in Africa, there was a dirty, littered building at the end of a dirty, littered street. But in that building, a clean, joyful family lived. Their happiness shone all around their tiny flat, making it seem beautiful and bright, despite the black mold and the dampness on the walls.
The family consisted of four people: Kyra, the youngest child, Annabelle, the older sister, Mother and Father. They were very poor and barely survived. In fact, they even had to hunt for food on the streets because there wasn’t enough money for sufficient food for everyone. Father worked in the supermarket, but he didn’t earn half enough money for the family.
On a breezy October day, Kyra and Annabelle set off to look for food. It was the usual routine: Kyra looked in the bins, Annabelle looked on the pavement. As Kyra searched the bins, she saw a crumpled lucky draw ticket nearby. She bent over to pick it up, and saw that the prize was four plane tickets to New Zealand! Excitedly, Kyra put it in her pocket and ran to Annabelle. They both set of to their parents and told them the excellent news. “Now, we mustn’t get our hopes up,” said Mother. Everyone said they’d try not to. But there was still a hopeful look in the girls’ eyes.
A few weeks later, the girls were yet again hunting for food. As Annabelle passed a television shop (she often looked there, not because there was a lot of food, but because she liked peering at the televisions. Her family didn’t even have a radio!) And heard an announcer shout, “And the lucky draw tickets for the small prize – a pair of the latest sunglasses - are: Green number 1, yellow number fifty-four, and green number twenty-three. The final ticket is….blue number thirty-eight! The lucky owner of this ticket will earn four plane tickets to New Zealand! Please go to the Hollywood Movie Recording Studio Hong Kong to collect your prize!” Annabelle’s heart pounded. Blue number thirty-eight was her ticket number! She would be flying! She ran to Kyra, bouncing up and down with excitement and screamed the news to her sister.
Things changed after that. Kyra and Annabelle were told to get anything useful from the rubbish heap, whether it was torn cardigans or metal containers dented so badly you couldn’t tell what shape it was meant to be. Anything would be useful for their trip. Mother packed everything in a worn out backpack – also found in the rubbish heap – and Father’s job was to go deliver newspapers early every morning, so that he could earn a bit of extra money for the trip. Although it ended up as nearly nothing, he still managed to book a dusty attic room for nine days (they were only going for nine days anyway) in a motel that was going out of business.
Finally, after what seemed like years, December the 2nd came and they all went to the airport by MTR, since there was not enough money for a taxi. The family didn’t have a lot of luggage so even though they were late (it was their first time in an airport so they didn’t know that they had to be early for flights) they made it on time. The family watched in awe at the mini television screen and learnt how to buckle their seatbelts, how to store luggage properly and how to blow a life vest. Learning about life vests made Mother worried, but she was determined that nothing could spoil her mood on a plane.
Kyra, the youngest, was more energetic and was fascinated at how flying felt, rather than looking out in the window. So, even though she was the youngest and ought to get the best seat – the window seat, she let Annabelle sit there. The plane’s engine suddenly roared, as if the plane had a life of its own. The family of four jumped in fright, and the man sitting next to Annabelle laughed (Since those tickets were freebies, they couldn’t sit together). “You people act like you’ve never been on a plane before!” He cried. “Well, uh, actually we haven’t. This is our first time, you see,” Annabelle said, trying hard not to show how insulted she felt. The man laughed harder and shook his head in wonder.
Kyra felt an upward swoosh and the plane took off. She dreamed of the day she could fly a plane. Maybe she could be a pilot when she grew up! The plane surged higher as if it could read her mind. Kyra closed her eyes, trying to remember every moment of her flight.
A few minutes later, Annabelle was lying back on her comfortable chair nibbling on a packet of peanuts. She had been shocked when she found out that they would get free food. Annabelle was half expecting elephants to come out and dance. Anything seemed possible now, after getting free food and flying. She peered out of the window and watched Hong Kong getting smaller and smaller; she couldn’t even see buildings anymore! Hong Kong was just a big piece of green – and then it slowly became a tiny dot. Now, all she could see was fluffy clouds. She imagined herself bouncing on them, although she knew that she would just fall through them. It seemed as if she was right up near the clouds, almost touching them. The window seat was so cool! If only her friends could be here with her.
The air hostesses served lunch shortly after take off. Kyra got chicken and gravy and peas and carrots and rice…with a drink and bread and salad. It was called a “child meal” The family next to her (two parents with their fussy toddler) looked at the lunch in disgust. They thought it was horrid. But Kyra savored it because it was much more than what she usually got at home. Again, she started thinking how cool it would be if she was a pilot.
Annabelle felt a bit queasy; she never got used to having a full meal and flying. Flying seemed so unreal, as if it were all a dream. The plane moved slowly but gracefully and Annabelle was very thankful of that. She didn’t want to be sick on the best day of her life! Unlike her sister, she liked looking and enjoying scenery. The time was now seven thirty, and they had just finished dinner. The air hostesses had given her a blanket too, but she didn’t want to sleep yet. There were thousands of movies, songs and even a few games on her little television set! Annabelle didn’t want to wake up and find out that her flight was over! No, she would treasure every moment of it – from taking off to landing. Anyway, she was way to full to sleep properly.
Kyra imagined going on a plane at full speed, turning around and around. Suddenly, as if reading her thoughts, an announcement came. “Please buckle your seatbelts as we are passing through some air turbulence,” said a voice. It boomed through the speakers and soon there was a wave of clicks and clacks. The turbulence was a few bumps, but Kyra pictured it as clouds tall as mountains ferocious winds. She secretly didn’t buckle her seatbelts so she could make the most of this bumpy moment. Luckily, the family next to her was too busy minding their screaming baby to notice.
The next morning, after breakfast they had to land, to their dismay. “It only seemed like seconds!” Complained Kyra. Annabelle was too busy taking in her last-minute sights of the clouds.
Kyra sat eagerly on her seat, waiting for the same swoosh only downwards. “This is the best bit,” she whispered to herself. The plane flew downwards, then forwards a bit, and downwards again…the pattern repeated again and again and again. Kyra memorized it all.
Annabelle peered outside of her window. It was so different from the cold, bitter Hong Kong! Here in New Zealand, a beautiful blue sky hung above grassy, lush meadows. Even the air smelt different; fresher and clearer. The sun shone brightly, almost blinding her. It might be the beginning of a truly fantastic holiday to some people, thought Annabelle, but for me and my family, it is just the end of a truly fantastic airplane experience. And she slowly started walking, exploring the new land that lay in front of her.