Layower once had a pen-pal, back when he was in Mexico. He had lost contact some years ago. Her name had been Harriet.
He preferred New Zealand to Mexico. He’d managed to convince his Dad to cancel the appointment at the school, as he didn’t think it was important enough (they only called him “Stinkower”). Life had become worse since he’d stopped visiting his Aunt and Uncle’s farm though and he’d become incredibly lonely. At least he’d had friends in Mexico.
He rarely got letters. He sometimes got them from his Granny in Mexico, and he had some distant cousins in America who occasionally wrote but that was it.
A month after Van broke her leg Layower’s Dad received a letter. It was from his sister, Carol, who was Layower’s Aunt, and also lived in America. He let Layower read it. It said…
I have recently moved into a new house, so I thought I’d send the new phone number by letter. It’s 82291 831 903 453. I’m also wondering how you are, as I haven’t heard from you since you moved. I would quite like to visit you, because I’ve never been to New Zealand and the last time I saw Layower he was tiny.
I know it’s difficult to move on after Diana, but it’s been 2 years now so I’m hoping life’s getting back to normal.
Dillim I don’t think has ever met Layower, so it’ll be interesting to see if they get along.
I hope you are well, love from Carol.
Dillim was her son, and was roughly Layower’s age. Layower had never met him before.
Layower’s Dad later phoned Aunt Carol telling her a visit would be good and she could use the guest bedroom.
One day when Aunt Bella had come over for tea (Uncle Robert was ill so he couldn’t come) the topic arose.
“How long are they staying?” Aunt Bella asked.
“For most of the summer holidays,” Mum replied.
“It’ll be interesting to meet them,” said Aunt Bella, who’d never met them before. “When are they arriving?”
“They’re arriving at the airport tonight, and they’re staying in a hotel until tomorrow,” Mum explained.
The nearest airport was an hour’s drive away.
Aunt Bella left early to go and care for Uncle Robert. After Dinner they all sat down and watched TV.
“Let’s watch the news first,” Dad said.
“The news!” Layower exclaimed. “I’m off to bed.”
Layower walked upstairs into his room. He got into bed and turned off the light.
In what felt like seconds he heard shriek from downstairs. He got up quickly, banged into his wardrobe, turned on the light and ran downstairs.
“What’s wrong, what happened?” Layower said quickly. His Dad was crying.His Mum was pointing at the TV. Layower looked at it. It had a picture of a half destroyed plane.
“We have found 16 survivors in the wreckage,” the newsreader was saying. “And over 30 bodies. There are over 50 who are awaiting an ambulance. There’s still about 80 we haven’t accounted for but we believe half of them are dead. Firemen are trying to put out the fire before it reaches the fuel, which we think could cause an explosion-” Layower stopped listening at that point.
“That’s the plane Aunt Carol and Dillim was on wasn’t it?” he asked.
Mum nodded. Layower had a sudden rush of fear. He didn’t want another death in the family. He’d never seen Dad cry like that. Carol was his sister after all. He didn’t know what to do or what would happen. He just felt scared.
© Copyright 2016 Mathew Nicolson. All rights reserved.
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