Alice went to take a shower after she had recovered. I didn’t let the news of her leaving get to me right away. I didn’t want her feeling bad for going home. It was strange though, even if I should’ve guessed it. It wasn’t like both I and Ali would find our parents at the exact same times. It wasn’t like I was likely to see her again either way.
I went and took a shower too, scrubbing off the grime from the events of the last weeks. I searched the drawers and found a blue t-shirt and jeans in my size. I pulled them on and searched the closet for shoes. I hadn’t worn shoes for about four weeks and it felt weird putting them on. I frowned at the other guys, still asleep. The clock on the wall said it was 11:30am.
Sighing, I headed down to the lobby again. Ali was already there, in a purple dress and sandals. She was discussing something with the man who had given her the ticket. As I stepped closer I started hearing the conversation. “Please can we wait for him?” Ali begged. “I’m afraid we’re going to be late. You don’t want to miss your flight do you?” The man replied. “No, but he saved my life. I can’t go without saying goodbye.” She explained. Was she talking about me?
I cleared my throat to make my presence known. “Sam! You’re just in time.” Ali grinned and took my hand. I was hoping the drive to the airport would take a little longer, but it was only about 20 minutes. We were silent the whole time. I wasn’t sure what to say. Security was surprisingly easy-going. I could tell they were just being sympathetic, even letting me go right to the gate with Ali.
“Don’t forget about me.” She finally said after we had been sitting for a few minutes. I laughed, “I couldn’t if I tried.” I admitted. She smiled and then got serious. “This isn’t the last time I’ll see you.” She stated. I nodded. “You’re going to be reunited with your family soon, I just know it.” She said, patting my arm. “Thanks.” I said vacantly, but I really thought, Do you? Do you really know they aren’t all dead? At least you have your Mother.
The boarding announcement came on and Ali reluctantly stood up. When I stood up Ali hugged me tightly. “Thank you for everything.” She said, still clinging to me. “You- You’re welcome.” I stuttered, and she let go. “Goodbye Sam Casey.” She said, wiping her tears and turning around. “Goodbye Ali Mclean.” I mumbled as she disappeared in the small crowd of people getting on the plane.
Suddenly, I felt empty. All that was left was me. Louis didn’t need taking care of; in fact we were in the same boat. I slowly backed away from the gate and started to walk back towards security, where Mr. Alan, who was the man that handed Ali the tickets, was waiting for me. I wondered who he really was as I got closer and closer. He was a businessman with a big heart. What was he doing helping kids while wearing a suit? Maybe he’s the hotel manager. I thought.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I heard an all too familiar voice. “How the hell am I supposed to give you ID? It has literally been washed away!” I automatically rolled my eyes at Nora’s nagging voice before gasping. Nora. I swivelled around and searched for the origin of the voice.
There she was, complaining to the poor security man just a few metres away from me. “Nora!” I shouted in disbelief. She stopped talking and stood a little taller, looking around. I ran straight past Mr. Alan and tore through the security line up to get to her. “Nora!” I continuously shouted. She recognized my voice as I got closer. “Sam? Is that you?” She shouted back. Now the long line had parted, knowing I wasn’t cutting. They watched both of us stumble towards each other.
We finally reached each other, and Nora pulled me in tightly. She’s a little shorter than me, but she pushed my head onto her shoulder and stroked my hair like Mum would. Right then I knew that I was no longer the caretaker, but Nora would be taking care of me.
Being strong and acting like I was okay was no longer an option. As I held tightly onto Nora I folded completely. She stood still, saying soothing things to me as I sobbed on her shoulder. Mr. Alan came up to us and gently pulled us over to a seating area so that we weren’t interrupting the line-up anymore.
I rubbed my eyes as we sat down and looked at Nora properly. She looked as if she had just stepped out of the flood and into the airport. The red summer-y dress was the same one she had been wearing when I last saw her. She had her hair up in a messy bun and she was covered in dirt. I knew Nora was dying to interrogate me. I could tell by the way she was eyeing my clothes.
“I can explain.” I said before she opened her mouth. “I can too.” She laughed. Nora and I never got along. We had what you would call the classic brother-sister relationship. Mr. Alan came and sat in the chair beside me when he saw we had calmed down. He said that Nora could come back to the hotel with us. His phone beeped and he checked it. “Wow, 20 kids have already gone.” He said to himself.
Nora shot me a suspicious look. “The hotel is accommodating all kids affected by the flood and helping them get back to their family.” I explained. As soon as we got back to the hotel I took Nora up to my room to see discover that all of the boys in my room were gone. “Do they have showers here?” Nora asked as she inspected the room. “Yeah, there’s one right behind that door.” I replied, “And I think there are some girl clothes in this chest of drawers.” I knocked on the piece of furniture.
After Nora had showered and changed into clean clothes we just sat on the bed for a while. “Have you heard anything about-anyone?” I asked. Nora shook her head and looked at me, “So, how did you get to the airport little brother?” She asked. “It’s a long story.” I sighed. “I’ve got time.” She retorted, crossing her legs on the bed. I scratched my head and began. I told her about everything. I started from the beach to Ali and her injury, the hospital, the children’s centre, and how I was at the airport to say goodbye. I even told her about Louis mother’s truck.
When I had finished, Nora let out a low whistle. “So is Louis here?” She asked. “Yeah, he’s around.” I said. “Leave it to you to only find a girlfriend in a flood.” She chuckled and I rolled my eyes. “Okay, your turn.” I huffed. “My story isn’t so amazing.” She sighed and started.
“Me and the other girls were at the movies and didn’t know what was going on outside. Suddenly, the power cut off and a man with a flashlight told us to calmly exit the theatre and wait inside. We could all see the rain coming down through the windows and people started panicking as it came through the doors and made its way up the stairs. It stopped after a few hours, but no one could go anywhere because the water was most of the way up the stairs. We waited in there for days, sharing popcorn and candy until the rescue teams came. They told us we needed to dive under the water and through the doors to get to them though, so that’s why I’m so gross.
We then travelled through the valley and then drove out of it. I travelled in a group of other minors until we got to L.A which was supposedly helping us. But when I got into the airport they didn’t believe I was a minor and you know the rest.” She explained. I was confused, “What happened to your friends?” I asked. “They were all lucky enough to find their family.”
“So why did you go to the airport, were you going to fly to China by yourself?” I asked dumbfounded. “What? China, why would I go there?” Nora scoffed. “That’s where Aunt Judy lives.” I said. “Don’t you ever listen when Mom talks?” Nora said, and I shrugged. “Aunt Judy moved to Ireland like three years ago.” Nora explained, giving me a disapproving glance. “I was trying to catch that flight going out today.” My mouth gaped open.
“You couldn’t have said that when I was telling you about Ali?” I retorted, standing up and bumping my head on the bunk bed. “All you said was that she lived overseas, idiot.” Nora spat back and for a minute we were back to our old selves.