Rummaging through her handbag for water, Lena glanced to her side to check on her sister again, just in case. But Sarah was still out cold, her head slumped against the back of the seat and mouth wide-open snoring.
Sarah had started out the flight bouncing around the seat, refusing to sit still and buckle up for the take-off, much to Lena's embarrassment. She asked a balding passenger to the right why he smelled like smoke, and when he admitted to having a cigarette before boarding, she went on a lecture about how he would die from it. He was not amused.
Then, after thirty minutes and learning there was a snack cart around the corner, she asked to get up every ten minutes, coming back with soda and little bags of pretzels and chips, things Lena usually wouldn't let her eat. Finally, Lena had switched to the window seat after tiring of being hopped over, but not after giving Sarah a whispered reprimand for not sitting still and being quieter. Sarah promptly burst into tears, eliciting glares from all the passengers around, much to Lena's chagrin.
She'd ended up salvaging the situation by telling Sarah brightly to "pretend like we're princesses! You can be Ariel, but remember she can't speak!"
That had worked for about a good five minutes. Then Sarah had turned green and thrown up all the snacks and soda into her lap. That of course triggered another meltdown.
Lena had gone into full mommy action. She pressed the call button, got the flight attendant to hand her an extra blanket and cleaned up most of the mess on Sarah in the bathroom before giving her another t-shirt to wear, thanking God that she'd remembered to pack it just in case.
The seat smelled like vomit. The flight was overbooked. There was nowhere to go. So Lena put two blankets down, sat in it, and tried not to heave while her sister slept in her original spot.
So when the plane touched down, she was tired, jetlagged, hungry, and smelled like the contents of her sister's stomach.
What a great start to a vacation, she thought dryly, heaving their two massive suitcases off of the baggage claim.
"Sarah, honey, can you wheel this through? Is your stomach still hurting?"
"I'm fine," huffed Sarah, grabbing the bag and slamming it behind her. Lena winced, but kept her words to herself. And then they were walking through customs and it suddenly hit her. She was in another country. This wasn't America, this wasn't her apartment with the cracks on the walls and the cockroaches that came out at night.
This was so foreign, so new and yet so familiar, a shred of the life she'd lived while they were still alive. She touched the glass of the limousine, afraid it would all suddenly vanish in the light of the streetlamps as they drove through the streets of London.
Sarah was unusually quiet. Lena looked down, and there she was, stretched across the seat, fast asleep again. She turned slightly over onto her stomach and murmured something intelligible. Perhaps she was already dreaming of meeting her idols. Lena smiled.
Maybe this impromptu vacation was a chance. A way to reach her sister, to mend things partially, to ease the angry outbursts and fights. Sarah didn't remember her parents as people, as flawed beings. She remembered them as kind and loving, and they had been, but they hadn't been perfect.
Perhaps it was better that way, easier for Sarah to cope. Lena wasn't about to bring reality crashing down on her and wake her from her sleep. Life had already done that enough. And if that meant keeping the truth on the inside, a secret, well then that was what she would do.
Sometimes she felt like screaming it out though, especially on the days that Sarah kicked and screamed about how horrible she was and how mommy and daddy were so much better. Yes, they loved you and me, but not each other. Get over it. They would have hated that they died together. I at least am trying, can't you see? I'm doing everything I can for you, to provide for you. Even in her mind the words seemed harsh, resentful. She bit back a sob.
The chauffeur had stopped the limousine.