It felt so good sleeping on a mattress after the hard ground, even if the guy in the bunk above me snored. I only slept a few hours though, because all I could think of was that I would be living on the other side of the world soon. If my parents didn’t show up I would go all the way to China, as far away from everything I knew as possible.
Early in the morning, the intercom came on and asked for Alice Mclean to come down to the lobby immediately. The other guys moaned at the interruption and went back to sleep. I quickly and silently got out of bed and left while still wearing the pyjamas that they had given to us. As the elevator door opened I saw Ali standing there.
She smiled when she saw me and I noticed she hadn’t bothered changing either. “I wonder what they want me for.” She asked casually but she was beaming. “I guess we’ll find out.” I replied just as casually. I let Ali get out first so that I wouldn’t draw too much attention to myself. I pretended to be interested in a magazine in the lobby as Ali approached the front desk.
“You called for me?” She said, leaning on the counter. “Yes, we have your Mother on the line.” The receptionist replied, and Ali paused for a while. The receptionist handed over the phone and Ali took it with a shaking hand. “Mum?” She said almost inaudibly. From where I was standing I could hear a frantic voice coming from the phone.
Suddenly, Ali burst into tears and sunk to the floor. “No, I’m fine Mum I promise.” She managed to say. “I- I don’t know where he is. I haven’t seen him since…” She trailed off. “Okay Mum I’ll see you soon. I- I love you too.” She sniffled and hung up. I walked over to her quietly and sunk down beside her. She wasn’t sobbing but she couldn’t seem to stop her tears. I decided it was best to say nothing.
Instead, I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and waited for her to recover. After a few moments she wiped her eyes and shakily said, “I’m going home.”
“What- when?” I asked astounded. “This afternoon,” She smiled and I was reminded that her leaving was a good thing. “That’s great.” I faked. I felt like a horrible person to fake my joy at her getting to go home. I forced myself to come to terms with it. Today will be my last day with Alice Mclean. I thought. A tall dark man coughed from the other side of the room.
We both jumped and he stepped closer. Crouching down, he handed Ali a plane ticket and I saw he had a big bright smile. “This is your ticket home for 2:30 this afternoon.” He explained. “Luckily, the airlines are offering free flights to people caught in the disasters.” He continued. He looked like a businessman in his suit, but he emanated kindness.
That’s when it clicked. 1:30 was only four hours away.
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