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It's just one week, I kept telling myself as I stepped towards the door hauling my
old blue suitcase. One day won't kill you...
"Don't forget to mind your manners while your there, Niamh. She won't hesitate to put you in your place."
....maybe it would.
Aunt Meg chuckled and ruffled my hair fondly, "And don't you try calling me if she does...I won't be able to help you all the way from Africa."
"I wish I could go with you Meg." I whined unhappily as she and I made our way down to the old truck with the beatup fender, my suitcase rattling on the old broken cement path that lead up to our house. I tilted my head back as the breeze wafted gently through my hair, surveying the cloudless blue sky. The afternoon sun rested warmly on my back, soothing my ever growing qwelms of my ominous trip.
"You know I would love to take you to Africa. Someday I will. But right now is just not the best time for you to come." She sighed. " I promise, once you get back we will go on a vacation of your choosing."
"Really?" I looked up beaming, but then became wary. "...No more last minute buisness?"
"No more next summer?"
My grin widened. " No more Greg Ross?"
Meg blushed and hid behind her short brown hair. "I don't see why you don't like him, Niamh...He's funny, cute, sweet. Goodness he even has that strange hobby of collecting postage stamps just like you!" She glanced at me with questioning eyes.
"Uh...lets see...Maybe it's because he doesn't have a STEADY job!" I stated, adding some emphasis to "Steady".
Aunt Meg just shook her head. "I think he's a good man with the right ideas. Trust me Niamh, guys like that go places." She stopped and turned as we reached the truck. "More importantly guys like Greg are gold..."
I opened my mouth to interupt, but Meg shushed me with a finger to my mouth."Just you wait Niamh Becker, one day you will understand what I see in Greg."
I shrugged, hoisting my suitcase into the back of the pickup. Then jumped into the passenger seat and slammed the rusty door with a earsplitting sqreech. Meg hopped in next to me. "Gosh, can you please remind me to buy some more of that DW40 stuff for the door when we get back? Seems like I always forget."
"And just what makes you think I'll remember?" I grinned as Meg started the engine.
She smiled back at me before putting the break in reverse and backing out of the lot. "You will..."
The drive was long, but I didn't really mind. I wanted to enjoy as many minutes away from the old crone as I could. My grandma is not exactly the type of person any teenager would want to go hang out with, even for just a week of summer.
"So, you never told me the surprise present I am supposed to be getting you for your birthday..." Meg's voice cut in, scattering my thougts.
"I don't know what I want!" I managed to shout over the currents of air wafting through the two passenger windows. I turned towards her with a grin on my face. "Besides the whole point of getting me a surprise present is to surprise me.
"But how do I get your present if I don't know what you want?"
I shook my head and turned my gaze back on the road, but my grin stayed. "Your gonna just have to guess." Meg turned towards me with a hopeless look on her face. "Alright! I laughed...a clue."
"Done... Whatever you do, don't get me an animal..." Meg opened her mouth to speak but I hurried on. " Don't even think of getting clothes and No jewlry!"
"Those aren't clues!"
"Sure they are! Three clues. No animals. No cloth..."
"But...those are all the things you don't want! How about what you do want?"
I laughed as the wind beat at my face and looked over at Meg who was oblivious to the funny sight her hair made as the wind wipped it around. Secretly, I though it looked rather like an illistration I had seen of Medusa when reading Herculese in 5th grade. "Meg...get me something from Africa...I don't care...a dead bug, a plant, even a rock. It would be special no matter what it was."
Meg looked over at me, her expression turning serious. "Niamh...I wish you could go too. If I could bring you, believe me I would. It's just, things are dangerous over there right now. I don't want to bring you somewhere like that, putting you in harm's way." She sighed running her hands through her hair. I vaguely remembered how my mother used to do that everytime she felt guilty about something. "If I were a more selfish person...you'd be there in a heartbeat."
"I wish you were selfish..."