This Is Me

This is the story of a girl who got lost along the way. Her journey is one threaded in between that of thousands of others and fate will take its path. Follow your yellow brick road.

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6. Chapter 6

So high up in the sky, so far away from home. I felt like a sparrow flying east for winter that had lost her way. Even with my small family next to me, I still felt alone. As we rose higher and higher into the air, the plane turning to the side slightly, the clouds cloaking us like a silver gossamer throw, I could faintly see my tiny home island down below, the whole island a patchwork quilt of browns, yellows and green. The sea lapped gently at the sides, where thousands of people were gathered to relax and suntan.

I felt as though they were all there to wave us off.

*****

The next stage was arriving and settling in. you may recall that we had nowhere to go and even though my Mum’s whole family, apart from her Mum, lived in Maidenhead, they weren’t very much help at all. In fact, they were probably smug that we were moving back here.

We went to stay with one of my Mum’s oldest friends’ husbands, as she had died from cancer a year before but she had been close friends with Wes, her husband, and he had offered for us to stay with him. His daughter, Belle, was sixteen at the time and we got on quite well which was convenient.

We got back to theirs and I remember almost being in a state of shock, numbly regarding everything around me. It was cold, much colder than back home, and as I found myself thinking this, I also found myself realising with a sharp and sudden sadness that that was how I would refer to Cyprus from then on. Simply, ‘back home’. I missed it already.

Our first day was almost the most boring day of my existence. Running around the town, chasing schools, banks, anywhere and everywhere that had a hope in hell of getting us settled soon.

The next few days went like this, my Grandma down from Taunton to help my Mum and drive us around town and keep Ellen and I out of the way. With nothing to do, Ellen and I became grouchy and annoying, not really realising how important those few days were and how much Mum was dependant on us behaving. For the record, Ellen didn’t.

I could tell you that this is the boring part of my life, the part I don’t really want to have to talk about but I feel compelled to tell it all like it was. I don’t want to have to explain it all in detail, there are too many small and boring parts of my life to talk about to be able to do that, but I want to fill you in on the rest of the basic facts from there on.

We stayed with Wes and Cheska for about five weeks and all the time we were searching for somewhere to live where we could be independent. It was clear from the off that Ellen and I would have to share a room and even though I had known about this even in Cyprus, the four and half years between us made me frequently angry with this idea. I still am, to be perfectly honest.

Throughout all of this going on, what with trying to find somewhere to live, the idea of going to a new school in a totally different country and the definitive of me having to miss year seven and go straight to year eight, we tried to speak to Daddy as much as possible. It was hard, hearing his voice on the phone when he sounded so near but we knew he was so far away. I choked up every time, swallowing the small lump in my throat to allow myself to talk to him in the few precious moments we had.

It must’ve been hard for him to, having his whole family taken away from him and his house at the same time, though I like to think that at least he got to spend some quality time with his brother as they were living together in Uncle Solons’ house. At least he had all his friends still and his home island, as Cypriots seem to know everyone. At least he had that.

I miss him.

*****

Then there was the whole thing with me having to miss year seven. England and Cyprus work very differently when it comes to schooling. England has a much better routine and has thorough ethics that stay in place and provide for a (generally) good education.

When I had been nursery school, most people obviously start reception at the age of four but I’m an August baby and my parents decided then that they would rather I be the oldest in the class and find it easier than the youngest in the class as the weakest. I was to start school at five as the oldest then.

From the December of my first year at ‘big school’, it was clear to my teachers that I didn’t belong there and I should be in the year above as it was quite easy for me but my parents stood by their decision and kept me down, never foreseeing the day where England would be our home. (I still don’t regard it as ‘home’.) So I was always the oldest in the class and the smartest – not bragging just – but when I came here and had to miss a year because I’d just finished year six in Cyprus and over here I should be starting year eight, I was suddenly the youngest and the weakest. I was put in all top set classes and I was fine with all of that, even doing well in Maths, but when tests came up in subjects such as Maths I struggled, not having done everything that was on paper in front of me. But I got through it with the help of my new friends and the unyielding support from my family and old friends.

It seemed to all be going okay. I seemed to finally be settling down.

We found a flat, a small place where Ellen and I had to unfortunately share a room and it was so much smaller than what we were used to but we were constantly reminded that it wouldn’t be forever and at least we now had our own space. I couldn’t agree more, expect I didn’t really have my own space, did I? I was sharing.

My Uncle George came down to visit us from Gloucestershire and my Nana up from Taunton, a positive saint driving us around everywhere when we had no car. Have no car? Don’t worry, Uncle George got us one.

We were so, so grateful for our car like you couldn’t believe. We could go to places without having to borrow or rent a car, we could finally be more normal again. I actually missed our old car, our big red 4x4 Toyota in Cyprus, but this one was much more suited to our new life.

I guess that now, having so many friends and family with enough money to get what they want when they want is really frustrating because we’re not like that. We have to scrimp and save for months to pay for tickets to go to Cyprus, eating beans on toast and leaving the fridge bare until there’s nothing left in the freezer to eat but it’s worth it in the end.

The first bit of bad news made its way to me slowly, a bomb about to explode, a bee about to sink its sting into your skin. It was too calm. Everything was going too well. Life doesn’t like going our way, and when you finally think your happy it goes, ‘ha, no chance’, and chucks another test at you.

I remember the day, it was a Thursday or something in late November and we went over to Wycombe with one of mums’ friends to see the Christmas lights being turned on. They were glorious. As they turned on, I looked up to see hundreds of white lights winking down at me, my air frosting into a white patch in front of my face. I smiled, aware of the beauty and glory that surrounded me and the love that I could feel from the arm around my shoulder, the light touch of an arm against mine. I felt as though nothing could go wrong.

We got back to the car at the end of that, the hot chocolate still spreading warm through my veins, and I checked my phone out of habit. Six missed calls from Daddy.

Instantly, I felt like the worst daughter in the world. He must be worrying so much, four and a half hours away by plane. Worry gripping my insides, hoping that something bad hadn’t happened to him as different scenarios played through my head, my good mood was gone.

I called him back and he picked up on the fourth ring, relief colouring his tone as he heard my voice, and I when I heard his. He told me he had been worried, he had thought something was happened to us. I laughed it off, telling him that it was okay, we’d just been at the light switch on and that it had been loud there and I hadn’t heard my phone. We talked more and I finally held the phone back to Ellen to talk, then Mum, and finally me again. I told him I loved him and he said it back and then the conversation was over. Boy, did I miss him.

That was the last time I spoke to him.

 

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