Learning to Fly
Have you ever wanted something so much it hurts? Carly McClellan had. For as long as she could remember she'd wanted to get away from Scotland, away from Britain even. She'd spent all her life in the small village she was born in. Her father was the school caretaker, her mother worked in the local post office, aunts, uncles and cousins all lived within a mile of the small terraced house that her parents had lived in for all their twenty five year marriage.
It wasn’t that she hated Scotland, or her home, she didn't she loved it. The lochs, the highlands, the beautiful scenery. It was just that she had this unquenchable wanderlust that no matter what she did, never seemed to go away. Carly had wanted to study English at University after school; she'd looked at colleges in London, Birmingham and Bristol. Cities that weren't Scottish, but weren’t a ludicrous distance from her parents either. Within reason, she had no desire to be cut off from her family, but she needed the room to breathe, to stretch her wings. She had a desire that was stronger to branch out, reach her full potential. She felt so clipped, so restricted in this ridiculous town.
As she was applying for University her father lost his job and that put paid to all those plans, she didn’t qualify for a grant and without work her father couldn’t afford to keep her in college. He had been devastated, more than embarrassed, so Carly had played it all down, and she had to settle for a diploma in Childcare at the local college and a job in a nursery after it. Since then she’d contributed to the household, giving her parents rent for her room every week, money she knew they had relied on. But three months ago a string of casual part time jobs had come to an end, and this time there was a fairy godmother looking down on them. The local school asked him to become the caretaker, a regular well paid job, which gave her father his pride back, and also gave Carly a hint of freedom.
A few weeks later it had changed again when she'd opened the local paper one lunchtime and seen the small printed box nestled in between an advert for a new tanning centre opposite the council swimming pool, and Staffordshire bull terrier puppies that were ready in three weeks.
"Wanted. Qualified childcare worker
to compliment team at exclusive ski
resort in Austria. Flexible hours, good
pay. Apply to above address."
When an opportunity like this fell in to your lap, you just had to take it...didn't you? It was a perfect time for her to move on, her father was working again, her family didn’t rely on her helping them out now, and she had rediscovered the confidence to seek that independence again. All her ambition had been thwarted by the humdrum of life, her college, but on spotting the advert, she instantly knew this was the moment she’d been waiting for.
Listed was the address of a company in London, and when she googled the resort she'd gasped. It was opulent, a real high end resort with spas, pools, a huge gym, a la carte restaurants, hot tubs on every balcony of the fifty chalets that it contained. Since seeing the advert three weeks earlier Carly had thought of nothing else. And three days ago in a Manchester hotel she'd met the Human Resources team, along with the head of entertainment for six of the sister resorts, the interview had been surreal, with her having to present why she’d be good for the job in an almost X-factor audition style. Nerve wracking, but she wanted it so badly that she really didn’t care if she made herself look stupid. Her psychology had proved to be right, and she’d been hired. Tomorrow she made for pastures new, and it really couldn't come soon enough.
Standing in front of the mirror she checked out her reflection, passable. But that's all she ever was. Her thick hair was mousy brown, falling to just below her jaw line in a style that was practical for work; her blue eyes were hidden by her long fringe. Carly wished now, more than ever that she’d taken the time to get it restyled, or at least coloured before she travelled in the morning. She looked dowdy, she should be arriving in the resort appearing as she wanted to be seen, confident, sexy, modern...she could only hope that her wit and charm gave her what her untainted hair didn’t!
"You ready Carly?" Her mother's voice dragged her from her reverie, and shaking her head she made for the stairs, and the party, her leaving party! The words were enough to make her shake with nerves and excitement.
True to form the party had been huge. Over a hundred people, probably all there for the free buffet more than through obligation to her gathered at her local pub, there was drinking, dancing and great food. Half way through the night Carly realised she didn’t want the night to end, and it was only then she acknowledged what a big move the following day was bringing. But it had been a great send off, her home town was like that, everyone did everything together! Realistically she was only going to Austria, a reasonable plane ride away. Hardly the other side of the world, but everyone seemed to realise that for Carly this was a huge, life changing moment, a stepping stone, and despite everything she couldn't really envisage coming back to this town. Not for more than a holiday. She'd overheard so many comments about how a girl like her couldn't pull it off, couldn't succeed away from home, but that seemed to be the mentality of her place of birth, and she was desperate to prove them all wrong.
On Sunday morning Carly was bouncing with excitement. Her bags were already packed into her father's small car, and she was just having a final glance around her bedroom before she left. Her mother was close to tears, that much was obvious, but as Carly joined her parents in their car, she was anything but tearful. She was euphoric, but tried to hide her enthusiasm and happiness from them, other than the little blip at the party the previous night, she’d not even thought about not going, and wasn’t about to look back. This was her greatest day.
At Glasgow airport, they parked the car, and her father pushed a trolley loaded with her bags into the departure zone. The three queued to check in, then at the gate to the departure lounge, they all hesitated. Carly hugged her mother tightly; of course she'd miss her. Her mother may only be five foot two, but she had enough energy and vibrancy to make her appear six foot tall. Her father was solemn, and she threw her arms around his neck next and buried her face into his shoulder. She'd miss him too. All her life they'd been a unit of three, and now she was dissolving that.
"I'll call every day!" she promised as she stood holding a hand of each parent.
Her mother smiled, "you'd better! If not I'll be calling, OK?"
Smiling through tears that had now spread to her, she disappeared through the doorway that signified the start of this new stage of her life. She could barely function for her excitement, and her anxiety. After all, she had no idea what to expect, and then there was fear that she’d struggle, be home with her tail between her legs within days.
Not that there was ever the chance of giving up on this dream, even if she hated every day she’d see it through. And the thought of seeing things, experiencing new cultures, everything appealed to her. All she needed was this flight to be over so that she could crack on with the living part!
But like all good things, nothing happened in a rush, and the flight was delayed, due to potentially startling news that there was something wrong with the engine. But it did take off, eventually, and Carly knew it was wrong to still be so excited when other passengers exhibited white knuckles as they taxied along the runway.
Four hours later she was on a bus climbing roads that for the last portion of the journey had been flanked by small snow banks to what looked like an alpine village. It was still early for this much snow, but as they climbed to the summit, it became thicker and the cleared snow banks were steeper. Carly was still beaming; regardless of how silly she looked, as she gazed out the window, taking in the rolling hills that were now giving way to the more jagged peaks of the Alps.
Carly stared in wonder, the crisp white snow coated everything, and whilst she was used to snow most winters in Scotland, it was never like this, fresh, beautiful and part of life. A million miles from the dirty slushy ice that brought chaos and traffic delays at home.
Leaping off the bus, she thanked the driver who’d retrieved her bags from under the bus, then managed to drag her bags in through the large wooden doors. A pleasant woman greeted her at the desk, and from there she was directed to the attic level of the hotel that housed 0the staff accommodation. Her enthusiasm didn’t wane even the slightest amount when she located the non descript doorway at the end of a long corridor with dozens of identical doors spread out. Her room, 536 was no bigger than her bedroom at home, but the room was split down the middle with two single beds either side of a small chest of drawers, so she was sharing! To an only child that was an unfamiliar concept!
Once she'd half unpacked her bags, she decided to investigate the hotel. The main building housed the spa and gym she'd seen on the website as well as the various restaurants, all branching off from a very luxurious marble clad reception. Another uniformed receptionist welcomed her and pointed her in the direction of the basement, the location of the crèche, her work place for the coming months.
Opening the door she gasped, it was a huge room containing every toy and every craft a child could possibly desire. The walls were adorned with dozens of paintings, masterpieces of numerous children, and lovingly displayed for future children to see. There was a dress up area with fantastic costumes of dragons, princesses and firemen, a fully equipped miniature kitchen, and at least a dozen ride on toys.
It was perfect.
Carly was having a good look around, opening drawers and cupboards when she heard a sound behind her. Turning she saw a woman smiling at her, she was probably in her late thirties and tall with long blond hair cascading around her shoulders. She wore the uniform that Carly recognised from some of the staff at the reception.
"Hi!" The woman held out her hand. "You must be Carly. I'm so glad you're joining us." She had a heavily accented voice and Carly was trying to guess where she hailed from when a hand was thrust in front of her. "I'm Danica, I am the manager of the crèche and the ski schools for children. I don't get down to this place very often, but I wanted to come and say hello. Have you settled into your room?"
Carly shrugged, "I was shown to a room, but I left my bags and came to have a look around! I think I settled as much as I needed to!"
Danica laughed, "Its great here, isn't it? Is it your first time working at a ski resort?"
Nodding she almost laughed at the enormity of the question, "I've been looking forward to this in forever!" And she wasn’t lying, Danica made the appropriate response to her rather naive comment, but Carly didn’t care how silly she appeared, this was the start of her life, she honestly believed that.
"Well you've got until tomorrow morning to look around. The staff usually go to some of the bars on a Sunday evening. We've got a lot of things to sort out in the morning, nothing too taxing though I promise!" Danica dragged her long hair back over a shoulder and sat on a small chair gesturing to one opposite, "Grab a seat." Carly slid down next to her. "There's a lot to do here and a lot of the staff are quite crazy. We can't tolerate that craziness drifting into work; after all we're here to make holidays perfect for the clients. Sometimes some staff get that mix wrong! Saying that I'm not here to be a killjoy. If you need any help, or are struggling, shout. OK?"
She rummaged in her pocket and pulled out a business card, "this is all you need to get me at any time. I'd rather be disturbed at three in the morning than have a situation become carnage. You know?"
Carly smiled. Despite the strength of the words and the underlying message, Danica had a pleasant friendly demeanour, and she wasn't threatened. Despite being twenty four, she was quite glad to know there was a mother figure there if she needed help.
The woman, Carly'd now guessed as being Scandinavian, grinned, "No problems! Meet me at reception at nine tomorrow and we'll fill in all your paper work. Get you started and all that. OK?"
Back in her allocated room she sat on her bed, the other bed was obviously occupied. Pictures of what appeared to be three Shit-zhu dogs and teenage twin girls were stuck at jaunty angles to the walls around the bed. Pink feather fairy lights were entwined in the rungs of the bedstead and a selection of clothes were strewn over the unmade duvet.
Despite the enclosed nature of the room, the fact that you could barely swing a cat, Carly felt anything but cramped...she felt free!
"So this is my home for the next..." the sentence hung unfinished in the air as she heaved her largest suitcase up on to the bed and unzipped it, she didn't know how long she'd be here really. So she emptied most of it into the small wardrobe and the drawers built into the base of the bed. She hadn't brought as many personal belongings as her anonymous roommate appeared to have, but she took a few moments to hang a photo of her and her parents, taken at her last birthday, on the wall above her bed, along with a few scrawled messages from friends. Other than that she had a small alarm clock, her iPod and a couple of books - she'd definitely packed light.
Not sure whether she wanted to socialise on her first evening, she pulled out a beaten Dan Brown novel that she'd started on the plane and stretched out on her bed.
She must've dropped off, because she almost jumped off the bed in shock as the door not only burst open but slammed into the wardrobe at the end of the bed, causing the whole bed to shift. Opening her eyes, Carly looked up to see two interlaced bodies falling into the room. It was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began, but Carly could make out blonde feminine curls encased in two large hands, and a soft buzz-cut trying to bury itself into a pair of voluptuous breasts.
Clearing her throat as loudly as she could, she braced herself for an awkward first meet with the person she imagined must be her roommate. The couple pulled apart as though they'd been doused in icy water and both turned to glare at her, a mixture of awkwardness and embarrassment from her, and annoyance and extreme disappointment from him. Carly watched as the bottle blond lifted her head and stared questioningly at her, her blue eyes piercing. She'd never seen anyone as glamorous as the blond, her hair hung to her shoulders in perfect waves, her face was immaculately made-up, and all her clothes were both trendy and designer. He on the other hand, with his dark buzz cut and chocolate brown eyes was understated, quiet, but he smiled at her in a lazy over confident way.
Carly smiled awkwardly, "Hi I'm Carly. I presume you're my roommate?"
The other girl untangled her arms from under the boy’s shirt and tried to not look annoyed, nonchalantly, she gave a shrug, "yah...presume you are. I'm Camilla. This..." she turned to smile at buzz cut, "is Lucas."
Carly smiled awkwardly at them both, then Lucas tapped Camilla's shoulder, "my place!"
And with those two simple words she was left alone.