‘So Lu, how do you feel about us buying the plane tickets to Quest?’
Lulu looked up from her sandwich. ‘I don’t know. Okay I guess.’
‘That’s good because we bought the plane tickets.’
Earlier that afternoon, playing the multiplication monster sock game Delphine and I have been playing since 2017. Jack bought tickets. September. Four days in Florida and then on to Trinidad. We arrive in Trinidad on Friday the 13th. I’ve never been superstitious about it – I mean what about when you’re born on this day? I know a number of people who are and they seem just fine. But Jack was a little unsure.
He said, ‘Where shall we sit? In the middle?’
‘2,4,6,8.’ Hold on. I was just counting out my sock cards. ‘When do we ever sit in the middle?’
I watched Delphine uncover the card 72. She groaned. She’d need to go through the whole of her 8 times table – her least favourite times table. ‘If you start, you’ll finish quicker,’ I said.
‘What are you talking about? I have to go to the whole process of buying the seats.’
‘No not you. I was talking to Delphine. We always sit three by the window and you on the aisle.’
‘Yeah I know. I was just making sure.’
This is how the flight buying went. I don’t know what time of day we’re leaving, I’m assuming the airport and Delph won the multiplication game. She always does. It’s impossible to cheat so she’s definitely lucky with those monster socks. This is her last week of internet school too. We’ve been winding down this week and planning our summer workload. And she’s spent all her school credits in the school shop – Amazon vouchers hello!
‘Read, read, read,’ Delphine’s English teacher had said at the end of her lesson. We nodded.
‘Try and do summer maths,’ her maths teacher said. She explained this means calculating the distance to your vacation, the time difference when you’re there, keeping a track of money spent – practical things with numbers. It’s been lovely to see the pride on Delphine‘s face this week – the mark of the progress she’s made since last September.
Meanwhile, I’ve been buying summer clothes in the sales (thank you Marks & Spencer’s for knickers, sun dresses and smexy middle-aged ladies’ cozzies) and filling out passport renewal forms. I even bought suncream today for our faces: SPF 100 now. And I had a meeting with Lu’s deputy headmistress, Mrs. Griffiths who finally stopped avoiding my emails. I didn’t even threaten her, I swear.
I sat round her desk for the second time when she said firmly, ‘If Lulu wants to come back next year, we will make it work.’ Accompanying her were the Years 10 and 11 supervisor and a PE teacher dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. Not sure if they were potential bodyguards. I didn’t mind though; the plan Mrs. Griffiths cooked is a good one. Lulu now has the option of returning to school next year in the middle of her GCSE program if she wants or needs to.
Lu’s finally stopped crying too. Well, at least for a few days. We’ve promised her when she comes back to West Wales, she’ll never need to leave her hometown again. And she’ll have a long, blessed and happy life. It’s nice to dream.
‘So, how do you feel about going to Quest now?’
Lu swallowed the last of her after-school sandwich. Drank the last part of her juice. ‘Okay I guess. No, actually I’m glad. We’ve made the decision and we’re going. How long are we going for again?’
Jack and I looked at each other. ‘Well, If we keep Quest in the Caribbean then we’ll fly back next May. If we sail her back home, then next July.’
Lulu frowned. ‘Wait a minute, we are going to sail Quest back? Won’t that be thousands of miles? And can’t the seas be really big in that part of the Atlantic? I remember people saying so.’
She was right. All the people we’d spoken to who made the journey said so. I mean, but they had made the journey, so they were fine. And the idea of having Quest back where she started is a pretty tempting one.
Jack called it. ‘Let’s see how we go. First we have to get there.’
So – we are now officially going back to Quest. Except that Jack did buy the £9 a ticket flight cancellation insurance. That’s just being organised.