meet the family!
| "it's today, it's today!" ellie screamed as she came hurtling down the stairs. "today we're going to see mickey mouse!"
ellie, the youngest of the 4 children, and probably the most excited, was the only one awake- but she had packed her case, and was all ready for her trip to florida. her and her family were spending christmas at disney world, and she couldn't wait
it was lauren's idea. lauren, who was the children's mother, wanted a diffrent christmas- she wanted to take the hassle out of everything, and wanted the kids to have an experience they would never forget. she had also commented, she was doing it for ellie, as it would be her first trip abroad- and she was old enough now to apreciate disney.
now, sitting in the lounge shivering, ellie was thinking about all the things her and her family were going to get up to in america. seeing mickey mouse, peter pan, eating breakfast with pluto.. their was a lot to think about. it was far too exciting, and ellie couldn't sleep all night just thinking about it.
just then, their was the sound of someone on the stairs, then the sound of the door opening. ellie looked in the direction of the sound to see her older brother joshua walk in to the lounge. unlike ellie, jjoshua did not seem to be carrying his case, though he was fully dressed and seemed to be smiling.
he sat down on the sofa next to ellie, and gave her a hug
ellie, meanwhile, was paying no attention to her brother- she was more interested in her case, and the fact that joshua didn't have his.
she knocked on her case several times, then looked at joshua.
joshua laughed. "oh, the case?. it's upstairs. lauren will bring it down with the others later".
just as he had spoken, the door flung open and in walked a rather hurried lauren. she had a very anxious look on her face, and she was carrying the remaining cases
"we're late!" she explained. "i obviously slept through my alarm..... god dam it!. the taxi should be with us in half an hour!. ellie, go brush your teeth, joshua, for christ sake.. why are you sitting down here?. go wake your siblings....". her voice trailed off as the other 2 girls, lucy and diana, skipped in to the room giggling.
"we were ready all along!" laughed diana, as she jumped up and gave her mom a big kiss. " we were hiding in the cupboard.. just playing hide and seek!"
"no time for games," said lauren, not even returning diana's kiss as she ran in to the kitchen to make drinks for the children.
just then ellie returned from her room, proudly anouncing, " all done!" showing her shiny white teeth for everyone to see.
"good work ellie!" said lauren, as she made the last bottle of orange squash for the long taxi ride ahead of them. "now before we go, does anyone need the toilet?"
"what about breakfast?" joshua piped up. " we can't starve!"
" well, joshua, we'll have to eat at the airport" snapped lauren. "if you're really hungry, grab a banana out the fruit bowl"
soon, ellie and the girls had grabbed a handful of fruit from the bowl, bananas, grapes, apples, plums and 3 peaches. they were having a food fight- throwing the fruit across the kitchen making it splat, and when it did, they burst out laughing
lauren tried not to laugh as she reprimanded the girls
"put the fruit in the bin now, most of that isn't any good anymore". she sighed. " and most of that was only baught last week," she mumbled under her breath
soon the doorbell rang. lauren opened it to find the taxi driver standing their
"okay kids" she said, "each grab your case, and let's go!"
ellie paused in the doorway looking up at her mom
"what is it, ellie?"lauren asked angrily
" i want to go upstairs and say goodbye to my hamster," ellie said softly
lauren smiled. "the hamster's fine, remember we've got the naybour from next door coming in to look after the pets"
with that, lauren took ellie's hand, and they went out to the waiting taxi
in the taxi
| it was still dark outside, and still very cold. it was only 4 in the morning- and even though the children seemed to enjoy being up at this hour, lauren was obviously getting tired, and wishing she booked the family on to a later flight
" i know i'm doing this for the kids," she told the taxi driver. " but i'm.... i'm exhausted!. and we're not even at the airport"
the taxi driver nodded. " can't be easy with 4 kids," he said warmly
soon everyone was in the taxi. the children in the back seat, mom in the front next to the driver.
" we're all going on a summer holiday.....". joshua stopped singing after a stern look from lauren.
" joshua, it's december. it's hardly summer. now, be quiet... and let's drive in peace"
as they aproached the motorway, a voice came from the back of the taxi... " want we"
" who's saying that?" said lauren turning to face the kids
" ellie," joshua said.
lauren scowled. " you had your chance to go at the house, you didn't go. now you'll have to wait until we reach the airport. but it shouldn't be long if this taxi driver knows what he's doing. "
ellie persisted until eventually the driver interupted, " it's okay, we can pull in to a garage... i really don't mind. "
lauren sighed and mumbled under her breath something about the kids wanting to buy half the shop/
after the stop at the garage, which turned out to be quite un eventfull, lauren decided to play a game with the kids.
" right, let's play a game of eye spie. who first?"
ellie started... " eye spie, with my little eye, something beginning with m"
" a monster?" asked joshua
ellie laughed. " do you see any monsters here?. "
" me!" screamed lucy. " it's me!"
ellie shook her head
" mug" said the driver. "mugs of juice"
again, ellie shook her head
" well.... is it mummy?" asked diana thoughtfully.
again, that wasn't the answer, either
" come on ellie, " said joshua. " we give up... what is it?"
" mickey mouse!" ellie screamed triumphantly. " no one got it so it's my turn again!"
the others started to point out that mickey mouse wasn't in the taxi, but lauren waved a hand at them as a signal to be quiet
" just go to sleep!. this eye spie game's getting old all ready. we've got.... how long's left now?"
" 1 hour" said the driver. " sleep kids, it will pass quicker"
no one spoke. they knew the day hadn't even begun. 1 hour in the taxi was just the start. a couple of hours in an airport, 8 hours on a plain, then another hour to get to the hotel.... it was going to be a long day, indeed.
never the less, the girls settled down in the back seat to sleep while joshua looked out of the window, counting the stars, or sometimes looking for cars, or signs that it might be getting lighter.
an hour later, joshua shook the girls awake 1 by 1.
" we're here, " he said. " we're at the airport"
at once, ellie undid her seatbelt, stood up and clapped her hands together. she was so happy to bee their.
" now then," said lauren. " keep together, because it's a big airport and it's so easy to get lost. josh can get the cases, we'll meet him inside"
| the airport, was indeed, extremely busy. even before they entered the terminal, it was clear that the next few hours were going to be hectic.
when joshua finally arived with the cases, they loaded them on to the trolley, and off they went to find check in.
it wasn't too difficult to find... a large line of people standing by a sign that read florida, was all it took.
" and now, " said lauren, " we wait in line. it's all we can do for now. "
the kids sighed. they hated waiting in line. ever since lauren had taken them to see finding nemo at the movie theater and they had to evacuate the auditorium, waiting in line had been a real chore.
joshua remembered that they had to wait at least 2 hours outside, before being told that they couldn't go back in today, but they would get tickets for another time.
" i hope we don't have to wait 2 hours today", he thought.
but, they didn't have to as very soon, they had made it to the front of the queue
"checking in for florida?" said a friendly, upbeat checking assistant
" yes," said lauren. " all 4 of us"
the check in assistant looked at her computer, then turned back to lauren.
" i'm sorry," she said, " we seem to have a problem. their's plenty of space left on the plain, or at least, 4 seats, but none of them are together. in fact, they are all at diffrent areas of the plain. "
lauren sighed. " i need to look after my kids, i don't know what would happen if i let them sit alone... especially the smaller ones!". pointing at ellie, she continues.. " and this one's never been on a plain, she'll need comforting."
the assistant nodded understandingly but told her that it was impossible to change seats, as all the other seats were booked.
" i suppose once you're on the plain you could try and figure something out, but for now, this is what you have. now... can i have your cases?"
1 by 1 the cases were put on the counter. the assistant tagged them, and then went through the standard questions... did you pack them yourself?. any sharp objects?. etc
once they had past through and they were far enough away from the desk, ellie screamed " you forgot the fireworks!. we've fireworks in our cases!"
" ellie!" joshua was frowning at her. " that's not very wise. what if we get caught?. you could get caught for saying that, you know"
but they had seemed to get away, this time.
" so now for breakfast" said lauren. " their does not seem to be a breakfast bar around here, so it's the choice of burger king, mcdonalds or KFC, i know it's early for any of those... but which will it be?"
" well, mcdonalds do have breakfasts, very good ones at that, " said joshua who was remembering the time he had gone with a few friends to mcdonalds for breakfast when electricity had been cut off in his house
" i want chippies,. " said ellie
" pancakes!" squealed diana. " and i'll have some rice crispies," aded lucy
lauren sighed. " well, we can't have all that.... it's 1 or the other". she finally put her foot down and said, " okay, mcdonalds. like it or not, we're going to mcdonalds"
hearing this, both lucy and diana started to scream, kick lauren, stick their tung out at passing airport staff, and show themselves up, to put it short
after several apologies lauren had to make to passing passengers and staff, she turned to face the girls
" listen to me, " she started firmly. " i'm pretty sure that when you get to america, you can have all the pancakes and cerial you like. but for now, you can choose from some nice delicious......"
she stopped talking just in time to see joshua slip and fall backwards on to the floor.
joshua screamed, " don't push me!"
diana giggled. " well, perhaps if you didn't suggest such a lame idea as mcdonalds...... i wouldn't have. now get up and stop being a baby."
" enough!" said lauren. " can we go to breakfast now?"
are we their yet?
| if i was to sit here writing everything that happened at the airport on that morning, i'd be here all day. i'm sure you want to know what happened once the family arived in florida, right?.
well, read on
by the time they had all eaten breakfast, passed through duty free, and waited a good hour in the departure lounge, they were all extremely tired. as a matter of fact, the girls had gone off the idea of disney all together. they just wanted to go home now, even ellie who obviously wanted to go, was starting to wish she hadn't woken so early.
" this is the last call for virgin atlantic flight Q Y T 503 to orlando florida. could all passengers please proceed to gate number 12. "
" wake up," called lauren, as she heard the anouncement.
soon, after much hesitation, they were all on their way to the gate. joshua in front, with lauren and the girls dragging behind.
" can i see your boarding passes?" asked the lady at the door of the plain. " you all look so tired!. long journey?. "
" we've been going since 4a.m, " lauren wearily told the flight assistant. " here are the passes, we're off to sit down now. "
" wait a minit," said the assistant. " you do know that their is no seats together, right?. you can't sit together. "" we had this problem at the check in desk, i have to sit with my kids, okay?. they can't sit alone. "" well, " she surveyed the tired family standing before her. " you know what i'm going to do. i'm going to sit you down, and then later, we'll see if we can get someone....."
" no!. " snapped lauren. she was clearly irratated. " you either find us 4 seats together, or we're getting off, and catching the next flight. "
" with an attitude like that, " shot back the assistant, " you probably should. "
they exchanged looks
" how dare you speak to 1 of your passengers like that," lauren began. " are you always this rude?. do you want to be reported?. "
" fine!. " a woman behind them had had enough of this argument. " if it means peace on the flight, i'll move. yes i've got kids, but they are old enough to take care of themselves.... i'll move!."
as she rose from her seat, the kids scrambled in to the row, with lauren sitting on the end.
" you're a gem," lauren said to the woman who had just given up her and her kids seats.
she gave a half smile. " i know what it's like traveling with a family, especially a family like yours. i'm a single mom too, and i've traveled before. it can get tiring. "
" where are you staying?" lauren asked out of curiosity.
" international drive," she said.
" oh, so are we. " said lauren. " we might see you their. "
with that, they waved to each other, and lauren and her family settled back to enjoy the flight.
" you may as well go back to sleep, " she told the girls. " it's an 8 hour flight. plenty of time for you to get a lot of rest. "
the plain lifted off the ground, and they were finally on their way!. after all these hours of waiting, they were off!.
about 3 hours in to the flight, the cabin lights got switched on and around came a rather energetic member of the cabin crew, offering food to the passengers.
when she got round to lauren's row, lauren ordered a meal for herself, but told her not to wake the girls. 1 meal is all she'd be needing.
but, it was too late. at the mention of food, ellie had opened her eyes, and was staring up at the lady who had mentioned it.
" do you want something little girl?. " she asked, smiling at her.
" oh yes, can i have some crackers please?. and a glass of apple juice?"
she smiled again. " yes, you may. "
the flight passed. it was mostly peaceful, but sometimes interupted by the captain's anouncements, or ellie's mouth as she feasted on the crackers.
at long last, came the anouncement lauren was waiting for.
" welcome to orlando, florida!. we thank you for choosing virgin atlantic, and look forward to seeing you on your return journey. "
she gently woke the kids 1 final time, for the last part of their journey.
" are we..... are we their yet?. " yawned diana, as she stretched.
" mommy's now got to get the hire car, and drive you to the hotel. then we'll be here. "
we leave the family now, as they exit the plain, and get the car to take them to their final stop.
their holiday had started well, even if it wasn't totally perfict. they had made it.
| the sun was setting as they pulled in to international drive. the girls had been quiet, since they were tired from the flight. joshua had just been staring out the window, like he usually does.
the hotel room they were staying in was pretty big. their was a double bed, and the rest of the beds were single. but their was enough beds for all of them. their was a tv, a wardrobe, and a small, but nice bathroom.
" now then" said lauren. " we're finally here!. isn't that great?. now, while i unpack the cases, why don't you go explore the hotel?. i'm sure you all are glad to be here and want to.....
then she got an idea. " actually," she was smiling. " who's for a late night swim?. i can unpack your cases first, and you can swim while mommy unpacks hers!"
" oh yes, yes!" screamed ellie. " a swim". ellie was an expert swimmer. back home, she was a member of thursday night swimming club, and her, and the other members of the club, would do lengths of the pool, fancy tricks underwater, even swim on their backs
soon, all the children had their swim suits on and were ready to go
"now be careful," said lauren. " and don't talk to strangers!"
soon, they were out of her sight, and headed down to the pool.
as they went through the gate, they noticed that for late at night, the pool was still really busy. lots of boys and girls, and their moms and dads watching from chairs.
their were even rubber rings in the pool, and ellie really fancied the idea of having one herself
splash!. they all jumped in together
the water was cold, and at once they all started shivering
" just keep moving, you'll soon warm up!". joshua was zooming round the pool like a mad man.
they spent a good 40 minits in the pool alone, before lauren came out to join them
" having fun?" she asked.
" was cold to start off with," lucy told her. " but now we're warm... we've been moving round and round really fast"
" come in the water lauren!" shreeked ellie
" not me, not today. " said lauren. " i really don't feel like it.. today's been so stressfull."
after their swim, they all returned to the room where talk began of what they were planning to do, what they wanted to do, and what was around to do. things to do, in short.
" well, now we're here, i suppose i better draw up a skedule of things we should be doing... we don't want our holiday going wrong do we?"
" i want to see mickey mouse. i love mickey mouse!". ellie was jumping up and down on her bed making squeaking noises
" okay, mickey mouse.... who else has an idea?"
" maybe see some of the malls, and other sites of orlando," joshua offered. " it's hard to plan things because we've not really seen what's around. "
" what about lots and lots of swimming!" shouted lucy. " the pool is lovely!"
lauren wrote it all down. " yes.... yes, and yes!. we will do it all... we've plenty of time. now then before bed, does anyone want to watch tv?"
" i'm not tired!" screamed ellie. " i slept on the plain, i slept in the car, i slept in the terminal, i'm wide awake now!. "
joshua snorted. " you will be tired once your head hits that pillow, we all will. "
" yes," agreed lauren. " let's just go to bed now. tomorrow we'll start our wonderful adventure!"
they all said good night, and settled in to bed. it was such a lovely hotel, such a lovely pool, the girls were so thankful to be their, and secretly, lauren was smiling knowing she had pleased them
| when josh said ellie would fall asleep when her head touched the pillow, he wasn't joking. in fact, everyone was sound asleep. even lauren had abandoned the rest of the packing to get a well earned rest, and by the time morning came with sun streaming in through the windows, their was still no movement from the room.
eventually, lauren stirred. she got out of bed quietly, and continued to unpack in silence, so as not to wake the others.
the first child to wake up was ellie. she sat up and asked where her hamster was. back at home, it always slept in her room.
"morning, ellie" lauren whispered. " the others are still in bed, so we've got to be quiet."
"where's my hamster?". ellie asked her mom
"we're not at home, remember?. we're at disneyland!. don't you remember?. yesterday we went on the big aeroplane - and that nice woman let us sit down in her row!. we're in america!"
ellie yawned. "we are?. my eyes still feel funny".
"you were out like a light last night, all of you were. you've probably not been able to focus properly on your surroundings yet."
eliie leaned over to diana, who happened to be in the bed right next to hers.
quietly, she removed the covers and said softly,
"psst!. wake up!. we're in florida!. it's morning!. come on!."
"really?". she was still yawning too. " wow, let's get this holiday underway!"
in the space of an hour, both josh and lucy had woken, taken it in turns to brush their teeth, got dressed, and they were now sitting on the bed facing the door.
lauran just had to get dressed, and presently she did, too.
"today, well... today, first we need to go to wallmart. we need to get suncream, we need to get snacks for the room. and if their's anything else you want, well you can have it. you've been such good kids!. "
"wall mart?. that's a funny name." ellie giggled
lauren patiently explained that wallmart was a big supermarket, where anything could be purchased.
"and if you're all ready," she said, " let's go and get our first real taste of florida!. "
the heat outside was, to put it short, unbearable. by the time they had got to the hire carr ellie and the girls were dizzy, josh was attempting to fan himself with a stone, and lauren, well, lauren just wanted to jump in a frozen lake.
" don't worry, kids!. once we're in wallmart, i'm going to buy you some of those portable fans. you can cool yourself while we're out. how's that?"
wallmart wasn't much of a hit, with anyone.
lauren pulled up in to a very busy carpark. people of all ages were rushing about with trolleys, or small kids, some of them even pushing and shoving to get in front of everyone else.
the only advantage of being in wallmart was that it was air conditioned. as soon as they stepped through the doors, they felt instant relief from the harsh sun outside
still, it was busier. every isle was just as mannic as the last. josh even commented that it reminded him of the airport.
" so that's suncream, drinks, fans, crisps, chocolate. " lauren was saying as she put the items in the trolley 1 by 1 then rushing down the next isle. "have i forgotten anything?"
it was clear that she'd forgotten quite a bit. by the time they left the store, they had 4 rubber rings, 4 footballs, a big inflateable crocodile, a tickle me elmo, 4 peppa pig hats and some fake nails. that's with all the other stuff, too.
they left the store in high spiritds wearing their stupid hats and snorting like pigs. even the heat didn't seem to matter. it was a pure state of joy, with even lauren taking part. she kept pressing 1 of the tickle me elmos, causing it to laugh constantly, then pretending the batteries were stuck, and that she couldn't stop it.
back at the hotel, lauren dropped the stuff off in their room and then suggested spending the afternoon at the pool.
" no!". diana wasn't having any of it. "let's go and see what we can find!. we've done the pool!".
"yes," lauren calmly explained. " but we're going to be using it a lot while we're here. "
they ended up not staying at the pool, rather they all went to a water park, which proved an instent hit.
welcome to aquatica!
| "welcome to aquatica!. welcome to aquatica!" a loud prerecorded anouncement could be heard as they neared the entrance.
their was quite a line to get in, but the girls, paying no attention to it, skipped past the people and straight in to the water park
sensible josh, meanwhile decided to stay in line like a normal person would.
when it came to lauren's turn to pay, she told the friendly assistant that her children had all ready gone in. " they are so excited, now... how much was it again?"?.
once inside, lauren scanned the busy area for the girls
she spotted them, near the little play area. they wern't in the water yet, but were watching the others having fun.
"it's so good you waited for us," lauren praised the girls. " we don't want you getting lost. now if you want to swim,, you can. you want to swim, josh?"
josh headed for the section of the park that contained the waterslides while lauren and the girls played in the still waters of the tiny play area.
" isn't this nice," said lauren who clearly apreciated the water after the heat of the sun, and the busyness of wallmart
everyone agreed and for the next few minits they splashed around, pushed each others heads underwater, and just had a good time.
soon though, it got boring and ellie in particular wanted to explore the rest of the park.
so back to dry land they went, to see what else they could do.
meanwhile, at the other side of the park, things wern't going so well for josh.
he had managed to find a waterslide- the biggist in the park, and climed the stairs to the top, however an elder boy- who also wanted to use the same slide, had gotten in to a fight with him about the line.
he was claiming he was in front of josh, and he now had him by the kneck trying to force him to the ground- so he could once again overtake him, and go down the slide.
the attendant though, spotting the argument stepped in, and allowed joshua to use the slide first- seeing as the elder boy was being agressive.
the other boy didn't take kindly to this at all, and as a result pushed joshua forward, causing josh to fall down the slide and land in the water
before he could get his breath, down came the elder boy- and hit josh at the bottom of the slide, pushing his head up against the side of the swimming pool.
then, in 1 quick move of his arms, the elder boy had josh under. and he wasn't letting go, either!
unaware of josh's predicament, lauren and the girls had found the lazy river and were now floating around on their tummies. their were rubber rings at the entrance, but they decided not to use them. mainly because they all needed cooling down from the heat.
" isn't this lovely?". ellie said. " i'd come back here for sure if i got the chance to. "
" we've plenty of time, ellie. if you want to come back here after we've done everything else, we can. "
as they rounded the corner by the waterfall, they were aproached by another tourist who was also enjoying the lazy river.
"excuse me, i hate to interupt, but arn't you the mother of that boy slightly older than the girls?. the one who went to the slides while you all went to the play area?. "
lauren was shocked. she'd never seen this person in her life. how in the world did she know about lauren and her family?
"uh, yes!. what about him?. " she managed to say.
"he's in trouble. " came the reply from the other tourist. " some older boy is well, uh, fighting with him. maybe you want to get to the sllides."
as the rapids came to an end, lauren and the girls got up and walked back along the path to the slides- despite various protests from ellie, who was obviously enjoying them.
once their, lauren looked in the water- and sure enough, their was her joshua, his head held underwater by the older boy, just as described.
what could she do?. how could she rescue her joshua
she called to the older boy...
"hey, you!. yes, in the blue swimming trunks!. can i see you for a second?."
he came out, with an evil grin on his face.
" so, what were you doing in their?. that kid is mine!. you know.. what you did is out of order. you best have an explanation for what you did!."
"screw explanations, my victim is getting away!. "
and with that, lauren jumped in to the water and started chasing the boy, and joshh across the pool.
"steven!. " a loud, booming voice suddenly shouted.
the boy raised a finger- but hardly said a word as he grabbed josh again.
the voice that had spoken was steven's dad. he too, was clearly annoyed with what was happening.
"steven!" he called again. " get out at once!."
" make me," the boy shouted back at him.
" if you don't get out, we're going back home. and i mean it!. first flight tonight!."
with that, steven let go of joshua and swam quickly to the edge of the pool and hurried to join his dad.
" thank goodness you're okay," lauren said as she reached joshua. " pay no attention to him, he's obviously disturbed, or something. "
steven's dad looked at her as if to say, he's my kid, don't talk badly about him
josh just sighed. " mom i want to go home, i don't feel well actually. i feel rather sick."
lauren thought for a while. she knew she couldn't let the girls down, but also knew that josh probably wouldn't enjoy himself if he stayed. not just because of steven, but how he felt inside would spoil it for him.
" waves!. look at the waves!. " diana had suddenly spotted a group of people heading in to a wave pool. " up and down, up and down, up and down just like a boat on a river!. please mom?. can we do the waves?. "
" yeah mom!. let's do the waves." ellie agreed.
lauren tried to explain about josh, but it was no use. the girls had started for the pool, and she had to catch up.
| they got to the wave pool just in time for the start of the big waves
" oh wow!. these waves are awesome" screamed ellie, as the waves, which were bigger the children, came crashing over their heads.
"being tossed around like this," aded lauren, " is actually quite fun and quite refreshing."
josh, on the other hand, had had quite enough and told the others he was going to wait on land.
the waves came to an end, and the water was still again
"again, again!" said elie. " let's do it again!"
" sure, " said lauren.
the sky above them was getting darker, and clouds were rolling in
" I wouldn't if I were you," said joshua, " look at the weather, it's about to turn, I think".
"nonsense," said lauren. " we'll be fine".
the waves started up again, and just like the first time everyone enjoyed them.
suddenly a large bang jolted lauren to reality.
" thunder," she said. " we better go before we're caught by the..."
as they scrambled out of the pool, it began to rain
" caught by the rain," lauren finished.
" attention swimmers, please make your way to the exit", the PA system was unusually loud over the rain and the rumbles of thunder
they arived at the car, soaking wet
" well, I suppose we did just go swimming", lauren laughed. " a bit of rain isn't going to kill us."
ellie looked surprised
" mommy I didn't think it rained in florida," she said.
" me either", said lauren flatly. " never mind, we can come back another day."
" now would be a good oppotunity to go to the mall", said joshua. " it's all indoors."
" we can't really go dressed like this," said lauren. " why don't we just go back to the hotel and play a game.".
| it didn't take long before josh had convinced lauren that the mall would be a nice way to spend the evening
the others just sighed, figited, and became restless.
back at the hotel lauren told them all to get dressed in to dry clothes, and put their sensible shoes on so they could walk around the mall without feeling in pain.
the mall went down like a shit sandwich
while josh was looking at the shops with curiosity, the girls stuck by lauren, moaning, arguing, and just making life miserable.
" look!" cried lauren, " it's the sweet shop!"
" blah blah blah" said ellie
"I don't care about the stupid sweet shop", aded diana
"we have food at the hotel" said lucy
"but you all love sweets. come on, let's see what ones we can find".
their were all sorts of sweets. their were jelly beans, their were gummy worms, their were pepermints, their were lollypops.
" we can get all that stuff in england" said ellie, turning away from the displays
" yeah," said diana. " it's not so exciting".
" for christ sake girls," lauren scoleded. " can you just try and behave. it won't take long, and the storm will clear, and then we can..."
" go back to aquatica!" ellie suddenly screamed. " back in the wave pool!"
lauren looked at her watch
"at 7 in the evening?. no.... I don't think so. it will be closed".
" never mind," said lauren. " we've plenty of time."
the rest of the mall wasn't much of a success either.
despite visiting a music store, a toy shop, a clothes shop, evem a bakery, nothing interested the girls
they were about to leave, when diana spotted something and squealed.
" a penny arcade!" she squealed. " let's go to the penny arcade!"
"so now you want to spend time at the mall," lauren laughed. "very well, a couple of goes in the arcade."
everyone (accept for lauren and joshua), enjoyed the arcade
josh just wanted to look at more shops, and it was too loud for lauren
after about 45 minits of spending money in the machines, winning lots and putting it all back in the machine, lauren said it was time to go
the girls fussed, because they all wanted to stay
but lauren did what she always did, and promised they could come back another day.
back in the car, jiosh told lauren that he'd got loads of stuff from the mall.
some new shoes, some cklothes, some fudge, and a camera to take some pictures
" that's all really nice, josh. It's just ashame the girls didn't enjoy it. I'd have liked to look in some of the shops myself. well, their's other days" she sighed as she drove out of the mall carpark.
"dinner now," she said.
the thunder had cleared up, and it was hot again.
ellie went on about aquatica, but was told time and time again it was now the evening, and the water park was closed
"I suppose we could have a late night swim at the hotel again," said lauren. " you did all enjoy that.".
"yes!" screamed diana. " late night swim!"
"but dinner first, okay?" said lauren. " dinner first."
" yes, of course." came back 4 small voices
I want a kangaroo for dinner
| lauren pulled in to what looked like a fun little restaurant
outside, their were little coin operated kangaroos that bounced up and down when you inserted the money
inside, their was loud music, fruit machines, and even a play area for the children featuring a haunted house, a ball bit, and a slide.
" I don't know," thought lauren. " it looks a bit.... childish."
" it does," agreed josh
"I want a ride on the kangaroo!" cried ellie. "it looks fun.!"
lauren took that as the final sign that they were going to be forced to stay.
they sat at the table and studdied the menu
soon, the waitress, a young teenage girl, came across to serve them
"i'm lauren," said the waitress. " what is everyone ordering this evening?."
"well would you believe that," said lauren to the girls. " she has the same name as me. isn't that cool?."
" it's confusing!" said the waitress. " now what will you all have?"
they went around the table, each ordering something expensive, and large
lauren ordered a salad
josh ordered a steak
lucy ordered some chicken nuggets
and diana ordered some sausages
" and what about for you," asked the waitress standing next to ellie.
"i'll have some kangaroo" she said.
the waitress laughed. "we don't actually do kangaroo i'm afraid, this is america. kangaroos are australian."
"but," ellie wined. " i'd like some kangaroo."
lauren interupted and asked the waitress, "do you have any fish fingers?"
"I don't want fish fingers, I want kangaroo", ellie continued wineing.
"tell you what," said the waitress. "I do have some turkey dinosaurs. they arn't really kangaroos, but they are tasty!".
"we'll take them", lauren said, before ellie wined anymore
before the waitress left, lauren gestured for her to come closer.
she whispered that ellie quite fancied a ride on the coin operated kangaroo outside the restaurant
" ah yes," the waitress smiled. " I think she'd enjoy it. a lot of children do."
she left to get their food
when she came back, the children were singing to the music blasting from the restaurant's speakers.
"your food!" she said, smiling at ellie as she placed the dinosaurs down on the table.
the meal was nice, and everyone was full by the end
josh wasn't so impressed, he decided that this restaurant was too childish for him
but never the less, he ate his food and behaved
no one wanted dessert, so lauren payed the bill and they were free to leave.
"kangaroo!" shouted ellie as she spotted the kangaroo
" yes, yes. the kangaroo. josh, take your sisters to the car. i'm going to give ellie a ride on the kangaroo."
the kangaroo was bouncy and fun. ellie enjoyed it a lot.
she ended up riding 3 times, before lauren said it was time to go
I don't like orlando
| back at the hotel, ellie, lucy, and diana all changed in to their swimming costumes and went for a late night dip in the pool
josh, however, waited with lauren by the car
" can I talk to you?" he asked, a look of seriousness on his face.
" sure josh, what is it" lauren could see he was troubled.
"mom, I know you're doing this for all of us, and trying to give us a good christmas, but i'm not enjoying myself that much. their's not much for me to do here at all."
" oh i've noticed you're not enjoying yourself, and i'm sorry. but this holiday.. well," she hesitated while she tried to find the words. " it's special"
josh interupted her
"i'm thinking of going back to the UK, i'll spend time with michael and kelly". michael and kelly were lauren's naybors, and were looking after everything while they were away
" but then we won't be a family," said lauren. "I think it's something you really need to think about, and you can't just say you want to fly back. we need to pay for the flight and all that stuff.".
josh nodded. " the only thing i've enjoyed so far is the mall, and even that was ruined by the girls"
" talking of the girls," lauren was trying to change the subject. "let's go and see how they are getting on at the pool."
the girls wern't actually in the pool. they were all sitting on the side with their legs in the water.
" why are you not fully in the water?" she asked
"toys!" squealed diana. " everyone in the pool has toys, and we don't."
"well, what kind of toys?" asked lauren. " i'm sure we could find some."
"water pistol" said diana. " A water pistol would be nice to have"
"so would a toy boat" said ellie. "I love boats"
"and rings you can throw to the bottom of the pool and dive for" said lucy
" i'll do my best," said lauren. " the pool closes in 15 minits, do you want to get in for a swim before bed?"
everyone wanted a swim before bed, even lauren joined them
a watery surprise
| at 6 15 A.M the next day, lauren shook everyone awake
she had a massive smile on her face, and she was all ready to go.
" what is it mom?" she asked. " it's early. what do you want."
"I have a surprise for you all," she said. "quick, get yourselves ready."
outside, the air was still cool. lauren breaved a sigh of relief as they headed towards the car
"are we going to aquatica!". ellie loved aquatica
" no," said lauren. " but where we're going is to do with water."
soon they arrived, no one having a clue what the surprise was
lauren took them through the gate and on to a beach.
the girls really had no idea.
at the site of a beach, josh sighed and mumbled to himself about how everything on this holiday was somehow themed to water.
suddenly, a man came up to them and introduced himself as marcus
"today," he said, " you are going to swim with some very special animals. does anyone know what?"
no one did.
lauren did, but kept silent so as not to spoil it
"well," said marcus. "they are really clever animals, they can do tricks, and you can even ride on their backs if you want to."
"dolphins!" she shreeked. "we're going to swim with the dolphins!".
before lauren could do or say much, the girls crowded round her, hugging her and telling her what a great mom she was
josh distanced himself.
everyone swam with the dolphins, even josh
josh even fed his dolphin which made lauren smile. she liked how he was really getting stuck in, even though he didn't want to be here
in the afternoon, after the swim, they all watched a dolphin show where 3 of the 4 dolphins performed.
the dolphin josh had looked after just floated motionless in the middle of the pool.
after the show (which was really good,), lauren aproached marcus to ask about the motionless dolphin
" he's dead," marcus announced
josh suddenly looked away
"josh?", lauren turned to look at him. " what did you feed your dolphin?"
"hash browns and bacon" said josh.
" oh well," marcus said. " no wonder the dolphin's dead. what did you feed him that for?".
lauren looked like she had just got the biggist shock of her life
she took josh aside and spoke harsly towards him.
"you fed your dolphin hash browns?. what were you thinking!. here I was actually thinking you were taking part and behaving, now if we're..." she paused.
"kicked out?" said marcus coming up behind her. "good idea. I want you and your family out of here."
"but the girls love it so much," said lauren. " they didn't do anything wrong, only josh".
marcus folded his hands and walked off.
lauren decided that they'd better go. the girls, naturally, were devistated
josh wasn't too concerned. actually, when lauren announced they were going back to the hotel, josh stuck his foot out, and kicked 1 of the dolphins that was still alive and laughed
"animal cruelty!" screamed an angry marcus as the family headed to their car
michael and kelly
| things were a lot calmer back home (in england)
before they went away, lauren and her family had asked their closest naybors, michael and kelly to look after the house. keep all the letters sent to them, look after ellie's hamster, make sure their was food for when they returned, that kind of thing.
it was easy for michael and kelly. they had looked after lauren's house many times. the family were always on vacation, and actually, you could say that lauren's house was michael and kelly's second home.
" ah isn't it peaceful without the kids," michael said, as escape to the country started on bbc1.
" it is," said kelly. "I hope they are having a good time, lauren must have blown her budget on this holiday. walt disney in florida, not even we can aford that."
"I know," said michael. "I wish we could."
escape to the country was good, they both enjoyed property shows.
afterwards, it was pointless.
kelly didn't really get pointless, contestants trying to score as few points as possible?. why would anyone want to do that.
michael liked it though. he thought alexander armstrong was hilarious, and richard ozmond was a great co presenter.
the phone rang.
sighing, michael turned down pointless and picked up the call.
"hello?" he said.
"hi!" came a familiar voice on the other end. " it's lauren. how's the house?."
"lauren!" exclaimed michael. " everything okay here, we're looking after the place well. ellie's hamster is awake, running about on his wheel. how's florida?."
"florida's stressfull. the girls love it, of course. but josh, well," she hesitated.
"josh hates it here, and wants to come home. woul. if we were to arange a flight, could you pick josh up from the airport?."
" just 1 mint," said michael, as he put down the phone on the coffee table.
he wondered in to the kitchen where kelly was making dinner.
"darling," he said, " that's lauren on the phone. she says josh wants to come home from the holiday, not enjoying it apparently. would we be able to pick him up from the airport?."
" josh is mature," said kelly. " he could help us out with the cleaning. yes, tell lauren that we'll be happy to have him."
michael went back in to the sitting room, and picked up the phone.
"yes," he said. "and i'm sorry about the delay, I had to ask kelly."
"we'll keep you updated," said lauren. "thanks michael. he's just spoiling everything."
michael hung up, and turned up the tv again.
pointless was over now. he'd missed it. now it was the 6 o clock news.
they were showing a story of a lion who had escaped from the local zoo.
michael grinned. it made a diffrence to what they usually showed. nurders, robberies, it was nice to know everything was right with the world.
5 minits of fame
| the magic kingdom was the family's next stop.
the magic kingdom, the biggist of all the theme parks, was going to great, lauren thought
despite pretending to be ill, or come up with other excuses of why he should stay at the hotel, josh was forced to come along too.
lauren thought to herself, this is a theme park.. what could josh do that could spoil it?. how can a trip to a theme park go horribly wrong.
they arived before opening, but their was all ready a queue of excited children and their family.
lauren and the children got in the queue right at the back.
" are we going to actually see mickey mouse?", asked ellie. she really wanted to see mickey mouse, ever since day 1.
"maybe" said lauren, "I think they do offera meet and greet with him, yeah.".
josh just looked away. mickey mouse and screaming girls was not what he wanted to see.
once inside the park, lauren studdied the map.
"the park is huge", she said. "we should probably just do everything in order, so we don't miss anything."
the girls agreed, and josh just grunted.
first up was the jungle cruise. it was a boat tour of a jungl. it wasn't really a hit with anyone, but the lady leading the boat tour was very funny. she even told jokes, though josh- and actually half the people on the tour found pretty lame.
finding out about the animalss wasn't really what anyone wanted either.
even ellie lost interest half way round, and piped up " this isn't very disney like, is it."
after the jungle cruise, came the enchanted ticky room.
a show featuring singing birds wasn't exactly what the family wanted either.
the song, the ticky ticky ticky room, was very catchy, and as they left the atraction, they were all singing it in their heads.
josh, however, just held his head low and looked like he just sat through a performance of an opera.
lauren trried to encourage him to join it, but without much success.
josh didn't want to be in a busy theme park full of annoying loud children, and stomach churning rides.
josh wanted to be in the mall, or better still, he wanted to be on the plain home.
other highlights of the morning included the haunted mantion- a ghost train through a mantion, it's a small word- a gentle boat ride, with an annoying catchy theme tune, splash mountain, where everyone got soaked, and the tomorrowland transet authority, a train ride around 1 of the areas.
josh actualyl liked the tomorrowland transet authority, he did. he realised thad that this ride wasn't full of screaming children or annoying music, and even commented to lauren that he enjoyed it.
lauren smiled, josh had actually found something in the magic kingdom that he liked.
"amazing" lauren thought. "I didn't think i'd ever see the day."
after lunch, josh asked lauren if he could ride on the Carousel of Progress, a show that showed you the history of technology over the ears.
lauren smiled, and was glad that josh had actually asked to do something.
the girls hated Carousel of Progress, ellie even fell asleep.
"wake up ellie" said lauren, as the cast completed the final verse of the atractions theme tune, "great big beautiful tomorrow.". " it's over.".
josh wanted to stay inside the theater and do it all over again, but lauren wanted to treat the girls to something now, josh had had his turn.
tlauren took the girls down mainstreet USA, which was busy with parents and children walking to and from the diffrent park areas.
"and now," lauren said to eliie, " you know you wanted to meet mickey mouse?. well, now's your chance."
ellie got to meet mickey mouse, donald duck, goofy, pluto, anna and else from frozen, and even simba and mufasa from the lion king.
lauren took pictures of it all.
"we can show these to michael and kelly when we get home" she said. "i'm sure they'd want to see pictures of you all having fun."
it was getting hot now. the sun was really high in the sky, and josh especially was feeling the heat.
he asked lauren if they could go back to the hotel and cool offf, but lauren said that the girls were enjoying it and she wanted to stay a little longer.
" it is hot though," lauren admitted. " why don't we have another ride on splash mountain to cool off."
lauren turned to head back to splash mountain, only to find that a big rope had been out up, preventing anyone from leaving mainstreet.
"something must be going on," she said. "let's stand here, and see if we can figure out what it is."
an american lady made an announcement on the PA system.
"walt disney's magic kingdom is pleased to present, the festival of fantasy parade in just 5 minits."
"wow," said lauren. " a parade. do you all want to watch it?."
she noticed that the girl who had made the announcement was walking along the street, talking to each family.
when she got to lauren, she asked her if the children wanted to be part of the parade.
" every day," she said, " we pick 1 lucky family to take part in the parade. they dress up as disney stars, and ride in the floats."
josh looked absolutely disgusted.
he was going to swear, but before he could laruen said,
"yes, that would be nice. I don't think our eldest josh wants to, but the girls would love to be part of the parade."
the american lady took the girls back stage. lauren and josh waited.
the prade started.
ellie was dressed up as cinderella
diana was snow white
lucy was tinkerbell.
lauren was amazed, and took pictures of her children in the parade, riding around in the floats.
josh wasn't. he looked away.
"give it up for ellie, lucy, and diana," said the american lady as they came floating down mainstreet.
the crowd was roaring aprovingly. lauren was taking lots of photos. josh was scowling.
the parade finished, and the rope was lifted.
lauren hugged each of the girls and told them they were amazing.
"we loved it!" squealed diana. " can we do it again?."
"I don't think you'll get another chance to be stars of the parade," said lauren, "that's a sort of special experience. here. let's go on splash mountain."
a night of drama
| by the time the family had had dinner in the park, and did a few more rides, it was getting really late.
lauren looked at her watch.
" 9 pm!" she looked startled. " 9 pm. the girls should be in bed."
ellie wasn't tired.
she was standing facing cinderella castle, her eyes focused on what seemed to be another rope being put up.
" another parade!" she screamed. " mommy mommy, another parade!. can we watch it.?"
lauren sighed. " okay," she said, " but it's getting really late. after this has finished, we're going back to our hotel."
it wasn't a parade that was about to happen, but a firework display.
the girls watched, their eyes fixed to the sky, as hundreds of fireworks were set off, lighting up the darkness.
"it's amazing!" exclaimed ellie.
" it's terrific!" added diana
" I love fireworks," said lucy.
" blah," said josh turning his head
lauren took more pictures.
at the end of the display, lauren, the girls, and josh, left the theme park, and headed back to their hotel on international drive.
when they arrived back, lauren was exhausted. all she wanted to do was get in to bed, and sleep.
the same could be said for josh, but the girls wern't tired at all.
"laate night swim?" asked ellie.
" no," said lauren. " not tonight, it's too late. the pool's shut now. but, since today we had a busy day in the theme park, tomorrow we'll spend all day by the hotel pool."
as she finished her sentence, something rushed past her.
something small and very fast.
soon, a lot more small, fast things rushed past lauren.
"I know what they are," said ellie. "mice!".
"mice?" asked lauren. " in our hotel room?. how did mice get in to our hotel room."
she rang down to the reception adn explained that their room was now covered with mice.
"well," said the receptionist, " if you want to move rooms, it's going to cost extra."
he checked his computer screen
" we do have a spare room actually," he said. " just 1. but it will cost you at least $100 to move."
"$100?" asked lauren in shocked. " is their nothing else you could do?."
their was silence at the other end of the line while the receptionist thought about it.
" well," he said, "I could transfer you to another hotel, that will only be $40."
lauren sighed. she wanted to sleep, not deal with mice in the room, andthe posibility of moving.
"fine," she said. "we'll move hotels. can you get us in by tomorrow.?"
lauren hung up the phone and turned to face her children.
"i've got good news and bad news" she said.
"the good news is that we're staying in florida. the bad news is, we have to move hotels, and we won't get any sleep tonight, so why don't you all pack and we'll get moving."
"now is probably a good time to mention," said josh, " I have decided to go home to the UK. I don't like it here, and I miss my friends back home."
lauren sighed. now, noto nly did she have to pay for a hotel transfer, but also she had to pay for a flight home forj osh.
"i'll work on it tomorrow," she said. "I'll try and get you a flight. I think it's ashame you want to go home, but it is up to you."
lauren and the family got in to their hire car, and drove to the new hotel.
it wasn't too far from the old one, which lauren thought was good.
"so," said the receptionist at the new hotel," the money please for the transfer?."
as she went to get her purse to pay the receptionist, she realised that her purse was missing.
she mumbled under her breath
" everything okay?," asked the receptionist.
"I can't seem to find my purse," said lauren.
turning to the girls, she asked, " did 1 of you remember to take it?"
they shook their head.
" just pay us next time," said the receptionist. " I mean it, you look tired. go up to bed."
" oh thank you," said lauren, who needed her sleep.
her and the family went in the elevator to find their room.
the new room was a lot smaller, and actually lauren found it difficult to find places for all their stuff.
but they eventually settled down to rest.
josh and the girls fell straight asleep.
but lauren lay awake, wondering what had happened to her purse.
she was sure she had it with her in the car on the way to the new hotel
sure of it
josh's very own chapter!. (part 1)
| it turns out, lauren was able to find her purse, and book josh on to a flight the following afternoon.
now josh was in a taxi, leaving the hotel and heading for the airport
the sun was high in the sky, and josh felt very hot.
he said goodbye to lauren and the girls at the hotel, and the girls (especially ellie), were really sad to see him go
the taxi driver asked, "so where are you going?. flying to another part of the US?"
"no", said josh. "i'm going back to england, I was with my family on holiday to florida, but I didn't like it here, so..."
they arived at the airport, and the taxi driver helped josh with his case.
inside the airport, josh found a trolley and started the rooteen to get on to his flight leaving in 2 hours time.
he had loads of time to spare after passing through security, so he decided to look at the shops.
he braught a book to read on the plain, a drink, and some alcahol for michael and kelly.
he even had time to eat a sandwich and drink some coffee, before his flight was called.
he found the gate and boared the flight.
the flight was very busy, but josh found a window seat and settled back with his book.
as the plain started down the runway, josh could feel something wasn't right with it, something was making the journey rough
and oh, how right he was.
if josh knew that today's flight was going to end in tragity, he would have chosen to stay in orlando
| "yea, he'll be at the airport in..... say, 5 hours" lauren was speaking on the phone to michael.
"yeah, I managed to get him on a flight, the only one leaving for the UK today. pretty lucky really, god i'm glad he's gone."
the conversation on the phone seemed to last for hours, and when she finally hung up the phone, she turned round to find ellie standing their looking at lauren shocked.
"mummy?. you're really glad he's gone?"
lauren thought about the question
"well," she said slowly, "I know this is a family holiday, and it would have been nice if josh had stayed, but..... well, he was naughty with the dolphins wasn't here, and he didn't like where we ate and stuff, he didn't like aquatica, now we can just enjoy ourselves".
"aquatica!" screamed ellie. "mummy please?. can we go to aquatica?. please?"
lauren checked her watch.
it was 12 30 in the afternoon. it was very hot, and lauren certainly didn't fancy driving
besides, she thought, yesterday was a very long day, with the magic kingdom and the problems at the hotel
"not today," lauren finally said.
ellie started to stamp her feet and scream "aquatica!. aquatica!. aquatica!" she kept screaming.
"be quiet!" lauren said sternly
ellie backed away her face showing fear.
" oh no sweetie.... mummy didn't mean to make you scared. she's just tired and wants a rest. now, why don't you go and play with lucy and diana?"
"I can't see them" ellie announced, after scanning the crowds of children around the swimming pool.
lauren couldn't see them either.
"where are they?" she asked out loud
lucy and diana were inside their hotel room eating cookies.
they had obviously heard the conversation with michael too, and had just gone inside to be away from mummy, and give her space.
diana was drawing in her spongebob book, and lucy was watching.
"I don't know where they are," lauren said. "why not just go for a swim in the pool and cool off?. mummy wants to sleep in the sun."
" okay, mommy," said ellie, and off she went to splash around with the other children.
lauren yawned, and before she could even think about the next few hours, she was fast asleep.
she was jolted awake about 3 hours later by something ice cold on her face.
she opened her eyes slowly and looked up.
lucy and diana stood their over their mother, both with ice lollies.
" where'd you get them?" lauren asked. " we don't have any in our room."
" we found them on the floor in the coridor," said diana. " and we just thought some other little girl didn't want them and, well, now they are ours."
"oh, right," said lauren as she turned away in disgust. " that's..... nice. um.... why don't we have a mcdonalds... you know, a fresh one".
the girls continued to suck their ice lollies, ellie started to cry because she didn't have one.
" never mind," said lauren. "i'll get you one, if I can find out where you get them."
deep down she was thinking she should probably get lucy and diana one too.
but the girls were young. they didn't know it was wrong to eat stuff off the floor, and this was a holiday. lauren was okayh with letting them do it, even though she didn't actually aprove of it.
| "okay," said lauren after the girls had finished their lollies, " you can have 1 last dip in the pool, then we must get ready for the evening!".
the girls were off to enjoy the water.
lauren sat back and thought about what she'd just said.
ready for the evening, what exactly were they going to do this evening?
lauren thought about this.
they'd been to an amusement park, they'd fed dolphins, they'd be to a water park, they'd been to a nice cafe, truth be told, lauren was tired and just wanted to return to the UK.
her thoughts were interupted by ellie, who suddenly came running up to lauren her hands outstretched.
"mummy!" she exclaimed. " mummy!"
"what is it ellie?" asked lauren. " and where are the others."
"mummy their is a really fat lady in the water!. she's going to empty the pool and we're all going to sit on the bottom of the empty pool, mummy she's going to eat all the water."
lauren looked mortified
"ellie!" she exclaimed. " you don't go round telling people they are fat!".
ellie just stretched her little arms as far as they would go, and replied " mummy I bet she is this big!"
the woman in question had heard, and had started to leave the pool.
lauren looked away, hoping that she wouldn't realise that ellie was her daughter, and would just walk on by
but she stopped in front of lauren and ellie, her face furious.
"so i'm fat, am I?" she asked, looking directly in to ellie's eyes
"oink oink", ellie said. " a talking pig!,."
lauren looked from the woman to ellie, and then back at the woman.
she was speechless
" hey piggy, " ellie continued, " can I have some bacon?."
" she's only a kid," lauren suddenly said as the woman reached down, her hand made in to a fist. " don't hit her.".
"am I fat?" she asked.
" no, of course not." said lauren. " but it's what kids do, well, naughty kids, fair enough. but she's a good one at heart. i'm lauren, this is ellie."
"i'm linda," linda said. " I live in florida."
"linda?" asked ellie, " why do you have a funny accent?."
" uh," lauren said, " that's because she lives in america. she's not brittish like us.".
linda turned to lauren.
" is she always like this?" she asked.
" oh no, not at all," said lauren. "she's usually a really good kid. we have 3 others too, diana, lucy, and joshua. joshua went home because he wasn't enjoying the holiday, and lucy and diana are swimming."
"I don't have any children of my own," said linda, " i just come here for the sun."
"I came here for christmas vacation," lauren said. " but i'm starting to regret it, all these rides, and costly food, and hotel problems..."
" florida's not just about theme parks," linda said. " have you visited the mall, for example?".
" well, I did visit it once," said lauren. " but actually the girls didn't like it and we had to come home."
"I could watch the girls while you go to the mall," said linda. "I really don't mind, hey, I might get to know theem better."
"good luck," lauren smiled. " you're going to need patience of steel."
"and," linda aded, " tomorrow night, I am going to this pirate themed show. it's a pirate showm, really good for the kids, and they provide the food while you watch."
"I don't know," said lauren. " how much is it for 4 people?."
linda smiled at lauren.
"I can pay for you all," she said. " think of it like a favor."
" you're most kind," said lauren. " we'll think about it and get back to you. are you round the pool tomorrow?."
"oh no," said linda. " tomorrow i'm going to universal studios."
" universal what?" said lauren. " what's universal studios when it's at home."
" a theme park," said linda flatly. " listenn, I know you don't like theme parks, but this one is good. I promise."
with that, linda glared at ellie, and walked away
" bye linda," lauren called after her
"yep, bye fat cow" shouted ellie. " moooo!"
"ellie!" gasped lauren. " what's got in to you?"
lauren called thee others together.
" come on girls," she said, " that's enough swimming!. let's go and get ready for the evening, and no" she looked at ellie, " before you ask, no, we're not going to aquatica. after the way you've behaved today, do you really think you deserve to go?"
lauren made sure she had everything, and then they headed back to their room
josh's own chapter (part 2)
| the plain flew through the air.
josh was sitting in his seat, headphones on, watching the fast and the furious on the screen in front of him.
the fast cars gave him a distraction from the long flight ahead.
"what's that smell?" said a passenger behind josh. " I can smell something."
soon after he'd mentioned it, other passengers began to stop what they were doing, and notice the strong smell of smoke in the air.
even josh, fixed on the fast and the furious, took his headphones out for a second to take in the sceen.
another passenger spoke up.
" it's smoke in the cabin. the cabin is on fire. "
others responded with comments like, don't be so daft, or it's probably just someone smoking on the flight who shouldn't be, theories were talked about all through the plain.
soon though, the captain came on the PA system and confirmed their worst fears.
" their is a fire in the cabin," he said, " but please don't worry, we'll going to land the plain, and evacuate everyone."
as the captain started to make an emergency landing on the water, their was a sudden scream, some passengers stood up, and their was a bang.
the cabin lit up like a bonfire. it wass complete devistation.
some people were unresponsive, some others coughing trying to get breath, some just pannicking so much that they couldn't stop screaming
the captain, had lost all sense of control, and before long,
the entire plain crashed with such force, that the people standing up screaming fell forward banging their heads on the seats or the overhead lockers.
josh was sitting at the back of the plain.
he was breathing heavily and thinking only 2 things.
1. he really, really wanted lauren
and 2, he hoped to god that someone would save them, before it was too late.
the crew of the aircraft were the first to respond.
they started emergency procedure, getting people off the flight, down the escape slides and in to the water.
sadly, a lot of people didn't make it to the doors.
the fire raged on, and most collapsed from lungs filled with smoke while trying to get out.
but what about josh at the back of the plain.
did he make it?
that's for another chapter..
a pirates life for me
| lauren and the girls were in their hotel room.
" tonight," said lauren. " we are going to a pirate themed show. we're going to have a pirate dinner, and we're going to enjoy it. linda's going to be their, she invited us, and she is paying for the whole evening."
" moooooo" said elie. "mooooooo."
" now now ellie," said lauren. " let's be nice to linda, because she's doing this for us."
"but she's a fat cow, and she'll block the view of the stage" ellie grinned.
" well" said lauren, " we're going to a pirate show, like it or not."
she turned to the other girls
" lucy, diana, what do you think of going to a pirate show."
" only if," started diana, " only if, we can dress up as pirates!. it will be cool. I'll be first mate diana."
lauren sighed. " dress as pirates? " she asked, " and where will we find pirate outfits."
" make them " said ellie. " make us pirate outfits, or we're not going to the show."
" and you," snapped lauren, " watch your mouth, or we're going home."
lauren sighed again." fine, fine" she said finally. " i'll make pirate outfits. the things I do for you girls. the things I do for peace."
20 minits later, and a whole lot of pirate talk from the girls, they were in the car, pirate swords in hand, wearing eye patches and peg legs.
they looked stupidd, and even as lauren drove to the show, she wondered what the other audience members would think of them.
she didn't have too long to wait, as they entered the pirate show queue, she noticed, to her horror, that they were the only people, in the entire audience, dressed as pirates.
" god help me" lauren mumbled under her breath as they moved to the front of the queue.
" hi lauren!" shouted a familiar voice
lauren turned to see linda, dressed nicely and looking lovely. " are you ready for the show?"
" I didn't know the show was themed to cows," said ellie. " I thought it was pirates?"
" hi linda," said lauren. " yes we're all ready for the show, look at the girl's costumes... they insisted."
"avast, landlover. me be first mate diana." diana said, in a pirate accent.
" avast." said linda flatly. " right, let's go in to the show now. I think they are ready for us."
for the next 2 hours they sat in silence while they watched a group of pirates on stage, trying to get some lost gold from a sunken treasure chest. they did funny stunts, and spoke in their funny pirate voices, and everyone was impressed
halfway through the show, a lady came through the audience bringing with her food.
" it's fish" said the woman when she got to lauren's row. " pirates eat a lot of seafood you know, and this is a pirate themed show."
"that's nice." said lauren, smiling at the plate set in front of her. " it looks lovely."
" yeah" saidl inda. " fish is good for you, I can't wait to tuck in."
"I think," said ellie in a loud voice, " it looks like something picked up from the floor."
the server woman smiled at ellie. " taste it love," she said. " everyone likes the seafood dinner we prepare at the pirate show. we never have a complaint."
" you do now," said ellie. she picked up the plate placed in front of her, and threw it across the room
the audience howled with laughter
the pirates on the stage started to joke,
" well it looks like we're eating well tonight."
the server woman looked horified
lauren was just glad it didn't land on her
linda just said flatly, " well that's the end of that."
ellie grinned and sat back to enjoy the rest of the show.
a visit from the police
| back in england, michael and kelly had arived at the airport to collect josh.
they expected the airport to be busy, and to just collect josh from the arivals lounge
but that wasn't to be the case.
as they scanned the screens for the flight, they noticed that it hadn't actually arived and it said, in big boldl etters, delayed
" excuse me," michael said to the man behind the desk at the airport, " we came to collect someone from the florida flight. do you know what's happened?. the flight isn't here."
in sted of being told, the man asked them to follow him in to a private room.
in the room sat 12 police officers.
" we have some bad news" said one of the officers. " earlier today, the florida flight caught fire, and well..." he paused for a minit
" well?" asked michael. " well what."
" we'd like you to take a look at this." said another officer. " it's a list of people who we know are still alive and made it to hospital."
they scanned the list
josh's name was not on the list.
" is he..... dead?" michael finally asked.
" I'm afraid if he's not on that list of passengers, well..... I'm sorry." the officer said, as he looked away.
" tell me it isn't so" said kelly. " he can't be dead."
"sorry." said the officer. " their's one passenger they are still trying to save from the wreck, and that's a woman. I'm sorry."
" we need to tell lauren" said michael. " we need to tell her now."
" but they are having so much fun in florida," said kelly. " we don't want to spoilt it for theem."
" if our son was dead and we were abroad, we'd want to know too." said michael. " no matter how much fun we were having. come on kelly, let's go home."
josh's own chapter (part 3)
| outside, all was quiet
an odd wave sometimes broke the silence, but that was all.
josh floated along, still unconcious from the earlier events.
" oh, my god" came a shocked voice from behind josh. " their is someone in the water. their is someone in the water, help, help!"
soon, one of the lifeboats that was used to transport people to dry land arived on the sceen.
" do we know anything about him?" asked the man controling the lifeboat.
" no, he's unconcious. I just found him.... I... Hope he's okay."
" he'll be fine" came the reply, as josh was hoisted out of the water, and placed on the boat. " let's get him to shore."
once on shore, they started CPR. they worked on him for over 20 minits. just as they were about to pronounce him dead, he coughed up a lot of water, looked up, and howled in pure agony.
" do you know where you are?" he was asked.
josh shook his head, and howled in agony again.
" what is your name" he was asked. " can you tell us your name?"
josh didn't reply, but pointed to his hand.
his fist was clenched. he was holding something.
" we're just going to see what you are holding" they told him, and ever so carefully they took his hand.
what he was holding was a ticket.
a ticket that was ruined from the water, and most of what was written on it couldn't be made out.
but their was one word on the ticket
one word that confirmed everything.
will he find us?
| the next morning was christmas eve.
lauren woke the girls early, and explained to them that tonight, santa was going to come to the hotel to leave presents.
" how does santa know we're in florida?" asked diana.
lauren smiled, and laughed.
" santa knows everything" she said. " santa's magic."
ellie looked sad
" what's wrong ellie?" asked lauren.
" it's almost the end of our holiday, I don't want to go home" she said.
lauren walked over and hugged her.
" we still have christmas" she said softly. " and, if you want, we can go to aquatica again."
" we can?" asked ellie in excitement. " now?"
" why not." grinned lauren, and they set off to aquatica, christmas music blaring from the radio speakers.
that night when they got home the atmosphere was gloomy.
they had had fun at aquatica, but the girls were thinking
thinking about the end of the holiday.
" santa's coming tonight" lauren said with excitement. " with all our presents."
" he won't find us," said diana. " santa lives in the north pole, not orlando."
lauren hugged diana. " he'll find us," she said quietly. " he will always find us."
merry christmas, everyone!
| the next morning,, rather than being woken up by lauren, they were woken up by a phonecall.
ellie picked up the phone and listened.
" merry christmas!" came the voice at the other end of the line. " merry christmas!"
" it's....." ellie paused, she gglancedi n lauren's direction
" it's mickey mouse, it's mickey mouse!" and she passed around the handset so that everyone could hear mickey say merry christmas. " thank you lauren" she said as she hugged her. " I love mickey mouse."
" I know you do" said lauren, " and I think you'll love this even better."
lauren took out a box from under her bed, and opened it.
" santa!" shreeked diana. " santa found us!"
" he sure did" laughed lauren. " I told you that he would."
lauren handed round the presents, and their was excitement all round as the gifts were open.
an inflatable boat for diana- and as soon as she got it, asked if she could take it in the hotel pool with her.
lucy got a set of 6 various sized water guns which she was happy about, and she too asked if she could take them to the hotel pool.
ellie was the happiest though
apon opening her gift, she screamed with delight
" a stuffed kangaroo, boing boingb oing!" she said. " how did you know!"
other gifts included candy, some clothes, even a picture taken of all of them together at magic kingdom park during the parade.
" but you don't have any presents" ellie said after they were all unwrapped
" oh, I do. " lauren laughed. " my present is to see you all happy. merry christmas girls!"
" I wish josh was here," ellie said quietly. " he would have loved this."
" I know," lauren replied. " I am sure where ever he is, he is having a lovely christmas too."
josh's own chapter (part 4)
| lauren was right about josh's christmas
after transporting him to the hospital, he was put in care of nurse monica- the nicest nurse who worked at the hospital.
monica had determined that josh had a few broken bones, but had given him lots of encouragement and reasurance that he would be fine.
josh's memory of the accident was a worry. he remembered every detail vividly, and he didn't want that- he wanted to forget the whole thing.
nether the less, nurse monica worked on him for 2 whole days, and then told him to stay on the ward while he recovered
the last activity
| " so how will we spend the last day?" lauren asked. " we could go to magic kingdom again, or aquatica, or the mall"
" not the mall" said ellie. " the mall's boring."
lauren sighed. she was hoping to get some more shopping before she and the girls left for england, but it wasn't going to happen.
it was eventually decided to go to magic kingdom.
ellie wanted to go to aquatica again, but lauren thought about it and decided that they'd all ready been their twice.
the final day was magic. really magic.
everyone got to choose one final ride at the magic kingdom, then everyone got to see the fireworks display one more time.
at the end of the display, lauren and the girls walked down mainstreet teary eyed
even lauren, who had found the holiday stressfull, found herself missing disney all ready.
" it's okay," lauren said when they got back to the hotel. " I know you'll miss disney. but ellie, you'll see your hamster, we'll see josh, michael and kelly, lots to see. and everyone's missed us. "
the girls sighhed. they knew it was true- they just didn't want to go home
| at 8 a.m the next morning, they had their bags packed and were outside by the hotel pool lounging on the sun beds
ellie looked at the kids in the water, and wished she could have one final swim
lucy looked at all the toys, and thought how good it would be to play with the pool toys that lauren got them for christmas.
" wait!" came a loud voice.
linda, the woman from the pirate show came running up behind them.
" I know you're going home today," she said. " I want you to have this."
from her bag she produced a dvd of the pirate show
" it has us all on it!" linda exclaimed. " it's the entire show too!. they sold coppes at the exit."
lauren smiled. she was just about to point out that in england, they couldn't play american dvds on the standard dvd player, but then remembered her computer and thought their would probably be a way to play it on that.
" you are most kind," lauren said. " thank you. we will always remember the show now."
ellie reached up for linda's hand
" I'm sorry for calling you fat," ellie said. " I'm sorry."
" it's okay," linda said, as she hugged ellie and tickled her arm. " kids are kids, huh?."
she turned back to lauren
" I do hope joshua will be okay," she said. " is he meeting you at the airport?."
" I don't know," lauren said. " but we all hope so. "
just then lauren had an idea
she took out a peace of paper and a pen and wrote down her number on it.
" it's my number," she said, handing it to linda. " if you ever want to talk, you know where we are, and hey, we might find ourselves in america again."
" or I might find myself in england," linda laughed. " I did always want to visit london. I hear it's amazing!."
everyone stopped talking as a big red coach rounded the corner
" that's our ride," lauren said. " come on girls, say goodbye to linda, and let's go."
lauren took linda's hand
" bye," she said. " please take care of yourself. "
" you too," linda said. " you too."
then with the girls crying again, and lauren also on the verge of tears, they walked hand in hand away from international drive, and away from the hotel they knew, and loved so much.
| the coach ride to the airport was smooth
while onboard, the family discussed their florida highlights
" mine was being in the parade," said lucy. " what ffun!"
" I think I liked the dolphins," said diana. " I loved swimming with them."
as they past aquatica, ellie waved out the window
" mine's aquatica!" she laughed. " especially the waves."
" and mine's just seeing you all happy," lauren said.
soon they arived at the airport.
as they left the coach, a single raincloud covered the sky
" seems a good time to leave," laughed lauren. " it's going to rain."
| hours later, lauren and her family found themselves landing back in england.
it was cold, but not raining
" I'm still dressed for florida," she said. " never mind, we're home now. one more stretch and we can warm up in our house."
as they aproached the terminal their was a big shout of " here they are!. they are here!"
michael, kelly and joshua were standing in the airport dressed in hats and coats, waiting to welcome back lauren and the girls.
" we missed you" lauren said smiling at michael and kelly. " is everything okay at home?."
" yes," said michael. " we did have a bit of an insodent, but you don't need to know now, does she josh?."
" um.... no," he said. " she doesn't."
" and how was your trip?" kelly asked lauren. " how was florida?."
" amazing!" ellie piped up. " their was a water park, and a parade, and rides..."
" and 3 cheeky girls," lauren added, smiling. " but seriously I wouldn't have had it any other way. they were brilliant really"
" come on," michael said. " let's drive home in my car and you can tell me all about the trip."