"Mom! She is getting on my nerves again!"
"Be kind to your sister, Billy! Just this once, can't we spend a nice family trip in a pleasant atmosphere?"
"A family trip? Are you joking, Mom? Where did you find a nice "family trip"? You and Dad want to get rid of us during this summer! Why can't I stay at home with Dad, and you send Sarah into the wilderness without me. She is fond of this village simplicity. What if they have no Wi-Fi. We have been planning a bunch of good stuff with Alyssa, and Mike wanted..."
"You are not going to be in the company of this young man! Just fancy, Andrew, the boy is almost two years her senior!" my Mom is turning her face to Dad. He is frowning in solidarity with her, but did not replying at the moment, for we are already in the countryside, and the winding road is not the most perfect.
My elder sister is pouting her lower lip and putting on her huge leather headphones my Dad bought her as a birthday present. She is demonstratively lulling in the car seat as if she's cool and comfortable. I can hear the beat of her favorite music band: that means she's not going to talk to anyone in the nearest future or, probably, never.
We used to be best friends: Billy and me, me and Billy. We were playing pretending to be fairies, imagining majestic names for our fairyselves. Billy was Boudicca (she's so fond of history and rad queens), and I was Fay. Billy said it was too simple for a fairy name, but I liked that one and didn't want anything else. Frankly speaking, I could not memorize all long and sophisticated words she tried to give me as a variant. Just Fay. Fairy Fay. Now I understand how stupid it sounds. Almost like buttery butter...
We were fond of walking together and could find a perfect place to play almost everywhere: under Mom's office desk was a dangerous cave of solitude; the backyard of our house was a mysterious moorland where evil garden gnomes were ruthless warriors. But Billy would bring Dad's old dustcoat, telling me it was an invisiblity cloak which could help us to pass the sneaky soldier-gnomes. I remember how scared I was going along the tiniest backyard between flowerbeds and pots next to the red capped creatures with smiling faces. But Billy was holding my hand tight and never let it go.
But now she doesn't want to hold it. She doesn't even want to talk to me more than a minute during late dinner time. If she had a chance, she would go upstairs and talk to her silly friends nonstop or share some pictures of celebrities. Even now all her attention is focused on her glowing smartphone where a weird looking girl is singing in a comb as if it is a real microphone. How can she get the grip of anything doing all sorts of things at the same time? Her band is singing even louder.
All my life turned when several months ago she turned thirteen and imagined herself to be a real adult. She thinks I'm too young to understand her problems, and she doesn't even want me to stay in a company of her friends. The day before yesterday she was having a little "farewell my life is over because I am going to aunt for summer" party with her upgraded girl squad. Guess what? I was not even invited to her room!
I came to her room with a sign "You shall not pass" on the door, and opened it, but she was so furious and shouted at me, while her friends were giggling.
"Baby Free Territory," somebody said, and the whole company of mean girls started laughing as if it was the funniest joke in the whole world!
That's so unfair! "We are best friends forever!" she would say it. We were best friends forever. Now her bestie is Alyssa: a sassy girl with sleek hair and a nose piercing. Her mom is a tattoo artist, and she let her daughter do almost everything! Billy is worshiping them both.
I'm almost eleven and look quite old for my age. We even have the same height with Billy, and she could have said to her friends that I'm twelve! She never did it... I was so mad she didn't let me in her room. Everything was so great there: they decorated it with rainbow lanterns and funny mottoes. Girls were wearing beautiful pajamas and eating tons of sweets, sandwiches, and pizza. I heard them talking about boys and the sound of cameras indicated the number of selfies they made during the sleepover.
Billy changed not only because she turned thirteen, but mostly when she met Mike and his company. I'm angry even thinking about this boy! What is so special about him? Just a skinny boy with a pimple on his chin. He's always wearing skinny jeans, and his bangs are always falling on his forehead, covering his eyes. Who would ever like it? And he's never seen without a skateboard, but I never saw him standing on it. Never! I asked Billy about it, but she only wished away my question.
The city decorations are slowly being washed by villagescapes: endless fields, lovely cottages with white walls and a transparent forest line at the horizon.
I love the view so much and want Billy to enjoy it too, but she's nagging and telling me to watch my stupid countryside myself.
I'm sighing. It's a strange feeling to be left alone, but still be in the family circle. Mom is constantly texting her co-worker; she is a business lady, and she works a lot in a big spacious office in the biggest skyscraper in the center of the city. Dad calls her my "business mistress".
Billy and I were always laughing at him when he jokingly was pretending to be a noble knight. He would bow and kiss her hand as if she's a real Mistress of Business.
These days Billy finds Dad's behaviour embarrassing and sniffs every time he shows his affection.
Once Dad told me, that my sister was probably enchanted by a wicked witch. That's why she's "unbelievably unbearable". I did not believe him then, of course. I'm not a child anymore! But watching her sour and bored expression on a pretty fairy-like face that used to be so happy and joyful, makes me think that she was really cursed by some dreadful bog creature... like Mike... And I imagine him creeping out of his green bog and making a stinky potion in a huge cauldron somewhere in wilderness.
I'm chuckling thinking about him swimming on his skateboard in mossy dirt and bog mud.
"Why are you sneering, Sarah? Nothing is funny here: it's a highway to hell!" Billy is whispering to me, lest Mom could hear her.
"I'm not sneering!" I'm whispering back, still mad at her. "And we are going to Aunt Astrid, and her place is not hell. Don't you want to see her again?" I answer, feeling offended for Astrid.
Billy is tossing her head and doesn't bother to continue. She seems to be irritated again and reluctant to talk.
I was so happy to know that we are going to spend the whole summer with Auntie Astrid! Parents happen to be busy: Mom is planning her business trip abroad, and Dad will be occupied with our house renovations.
Though, the idea spending her free from school time in the countryside for Billy is a global catastrophe. Since the moment our trip was announced, my sister has been making a scene and all sorts of scandals; mostly with Mom. She wanted to stay with Alyssa and Monika and idle around the whole summer in public swimming pull or window-shopping and chilling in one of the newest malls. But more than anything, she wanted to flirt with bog creature Mike and his boys.
During those moments Dad and me were sitting in the living room and trying to pretend that it was not a big deal.
Maybe Dad is right and Billy was enchanted? Maybe my real sister was kidnapped by fairies, and our family is living with an evil shapeshifter?
This idea makes me shudder, and I try to look at juicy fields and lovely sheep that resemble funny fluffy clouds which are floating in a green ocean.
We are here! The house seemed bigger when I saw it last time. It's impossible for Dad to park our car next to the building, so we take our belongings and go through the "charmed garden" as my Dad calls it. Aunt Astrid is Dad's younger sister, and they spent all their childhood in this nice stucco villa that was sat like a toy house upon the riverbank.
"Hurry up! Hurry up!" Mom is agitating us.
"If it were in her power, she would put us in a cannon and threw here without saying "goodbye my dear daughters, I would miss you so much"," Billy is not whispering anymore, huffing and puffing heavily because of a monstrous bag she is dragging.
"Why do you need so many things, Billy Bunny?" Dad is taking her bag. Billy is frowning. She doesn't like to be called "Billy Bunny" now.
Aunt Astrid is not seen anywhere.
"Where is your sister, Andrew?" Mom is already sweating after having shifted some boxes. She's very elegant and slim. Mom adores fitness and all healthy stuff, and secretly hates countryside. Just like Billy. They are constantly arguing these days and when they do it, they look like a reflection of one another: long fair hair and dark green eyes. Just like two furious cats eyeing each other and hissing from time to time.
"She promised to be here," Dad is rubbing the back of his head.
"If only local forest creatures ate her, so we don't need to stay here any longer."
"What are you talking about, Billy!?" I'm gasping. I couldn't believe she has just said it.
Billy seems to despise her now, but I fail to understand why: she's not like other adults. She's awesome, and funny, and adventurous, and creative. Astrid always let us eat sweets and stay late at night. She never grumbles or never she is irritated like most boring grownups.
"Sarah, you are such a baby! You don't even understand how miserable she is," Billy once told me.
"I find nothing wrong with her. You loved spending time with Astrid. Since when did you change your mind?
She looked at me again with the same expression I look at our naughty cat Feather (we called her so because of her majestic tail like a peacock feather).
"I know she seems cool to you, and I understand it. I had the same opinion about her when I was your age. But listen, this weirdo is thirty years old, and she still leaves with her mother!" my sister is sniffing.
"I would love to leave with granny too," I'm trying to object meekly.
"She has no husband, kids or decent job. She doesn't even have a boyfriend!" Billy is filling me up with these useless facts.
I, personally, don't want to have a silly boyfriend or kids (they are screaming, and running, and peeing, and throwing things just like Feather, though she's my sweetheart). I would rather stay with Astrid and granny forever in their two-story villa with mysterious attic full of hidden "treasures" like old fairytale books, dolls, trinkets, coins, crystals, and glass bubbles than spend one more day at home with whatsit Billy.
We are still standing on the old squeaking porch surrounded with luggage and looking at each other. Several minutes ago Dad went to find Astrid in one of the greenhouses, and he is not seen anywhere too. Mom is perpetually checking her smart watch. She is obviously lagging behind her schedule and wants to be somewhere else.
Billy is sitting on one of her big trunks and uselessly grumbling at her phone, for she can't get the access to Astrid's Wi-Fi. And I'm steadily getting nervous: I wish Billy is mistaken, and Aunt Astrid was not eaten by evil creatures that had caught her among rich vegetation of a luscious but gloomy garden.