See me when you look at me

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A family vacation

-Samantha’s POV

Okay, I have to admit that the family vacation was not only bad. After we survived the first day with Emma getting carsick, Mia yelling she had to go to the bathroom every ten minutes and a long detour, we ended up spending the night in a motel.I had to share a room with Tyler and we actually managed to not kill each other.

The second day was much better. We spend halve of the day in a small amusement park, before driving to our next stop. It’s a national park where we could stay the night in an adorable lodge. My aunt stays with Mia and Emma in the lodge, while the rest of us go hiking. The adventure route was full of challenges, but I loved every second of it. Climbing, walking through water and a high rope course. Loved it!

After hiking most of the day, I’m exhausted and I really need a shower. Unfortunately for me, princess Tyler is taking his time. So I decide to walk around the lodge while I wait for my turn. To my surprise I actually have reception on my phone and I read the text messages.

Millie says the coach was impressed with her progress. She did very well in the relay race and her times on the long distance run were improving. I’m proud and happy for Millie, but I can’t help to feel a little bit jealous.

″What’s up, kiddo?″

″Uncle Thomas, I’m seventeen years old. Why do you insist on calling me kiddo?″

″I always called you kiddo and I will keep calling you that when I’m old and grey.″

″You're already halve way there, Santa!″

Uncle Thomas laughs and he sits down next to me.

″You looked sad for a moment, is something bothering you?″

″Yes, Tyler is hogging the bathroom.″

″That’s not it.″

I sigh stare at the forest that surrounds us.

″I miss running.″

″I know it’s hard to for you to let go of your routine, but it’s only for a week and we made sure that we included a lot of physical activities.″

″I don’t mean running in general, uncle Thomas. I miss running competitively. I miss getting ready for a race, I miss the excitement and the rush.″

Uncle Thomas looks surprised when I say that and a deep frown appears on his face.

″Coach Simon said that he asked you to join the track team, but you said no. You love running and you miss it, so why don’t you join the school track team?″

″Because I can’t,″ I mutter.

Uncle Thomas takes something out of his pocket and he reach out his hand. I chuckle when I see it’s a stress ball and I squeeze it gratefully.

″I ran competitively for years and I absolutely loved it, but I also hated it at the same time. Everyone expected me to always win, especially my sponsors. Winning meant more money for me and for them. It meant always having the best running gear, the best trainers and the best training facilities. Eventually I had to take a break and I made a deal with my sponsors.″

I start squeezing the stress ball harder and I keep my gaze focused on the threes.

″For now you can say that I’m on reserve duty, but when I enter a race that changes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a professional race or a race on high school level. As soon as I enter, I’m back on active duty. It means that I have to uphold my contracts and I’m not ready for all of that. I’m mentally not ready and I’m definitely not physically ready.″

Uncle Thomas holds up his hands and I throw him the ball.

″It must be hard dealing with so much pressure from such a young age. May I ask how old you were when you started running competitively?″

″I think I was eleven when I started in the junior league. After I got into the institute, I started to run professionally.″

″Samantha, you can take your shower now!″ aunt Laurel yells.

″Coming!″ I get up and I see that uncle Thomas is deep in thoughts.

″It’s fine, uncle Thomas. I might miss that part of my life, but I’m healthy and happy now. That was something I couldn’t say back then, so don’t worry about it!″

Uncle Thomas stands up and gives me one of his bearhugs, before he ruffles my hair.

″We will think of something, kiddo. Now go take a shower and be ready for game night. I really hope that you can draw, before Laurel declares herself the Pictionary queen for the millionth time and she gets to decide what we are doing tomorrow.″

''And if I make sure that you win?''

Uncle Thomas chuckles and he puts away the stress ball.

''What do you want to do?''

''Paintball, so I get to shoot Tyler!''

''We are supposed to all make it out alive, Samantha.''

''If aunt Laurel wins, you know she will make us go shopping all day. Carrying bags, waiting by the changing room, trying not to lose Mia and Emma in the crowd.''

''You better help me win at Pictionary, kiddo!''

Samantha's POV

''Mom with a paintball gun was a very bad idea!'' I hear Tyler groan from out of the bathroom.
I chuckle, while I check out my own bruises. Aunt Laurel was no longer the Pictionary queen, but she was the fricking queen of paintball! She took out Tyler and me so easily, but she took her time with uncle Thomas. According to my aunt this was cheaper and more effective then couples counselling.
''Lesson definitely learned. No paintball or Pictionary with aunt Laurel!''
''I tried to warn you, but you and dad insisted on playing that damn game! Now look what it got us!''
Tyler walks out of the bathroom and he instantly started laughing.
''What on earth are you wearing now?!''
I look down at my pj's and I twirl.
''Don't make fun of Cookie Monster, he is awesome! Besides have you already seen what I got you?'' I nod to the bag in the chair and Tyler is immediately suspicious.
''What the...'' Tyler holds up his own Cooking Monster pj's, but then he sees something else.
''And Cookie Monster pj's!''
Tyler laughs and he grabs his phone.
''I have to send Alex of picture of this shirt, it's sick!''
I roll my eyes and plop down on the bed with my book. Moments later I'm actually flying and my book slips out of my hands. Tyler is jumping on the bed and he is wearing his Cookie Monster pj's.
''Don't know what your deal is with Sesame Street, but I like it. Now our bruises won't get all the attention!''
Tyler pulls me next to him and he holds up his phone. He tickles my side so I start laughing and it's to late. Tyler already took a bunch of pictures.
The Cookie Monster cousins survived family vacation!
Before I can say something Tyler posted a picture on Snapchat and I decide to let it go. He can't tag me in anything since I'm not on social media. Also that picture would be gone after a day, so it was not worth getting into an argument over it.
''Today was an interesting combination. Visiting the base where your dad will be stationed and shopping.''
''Is that where you and my mom went after the tour? I thought the two of you wanted to rest and went back to the hotel!''
I chuckle and finally I find my book back behind the nightstand.
''We were tired because of the tour! But when we went back we came across a mall, so we decided to check it out and you can't complain! That's where I find our awesome pj's and that shirt.''
Tyler turns the TV on and he smirks. ''I'm definitely not complaining. We did a lot of fun stuff and I didn't had to go shopping with my mom, which makes this the best trip ever! Hold on, Manchester is playing!''
I roll my eyes at Tyler and then I see the light on my phone flickering. I forget that I had it on quiet and I put it back on vibrate.
''I believe you are having fun on that trip, Jones. I'm glad, tell me about it when you are back?''
I smile when I read the text from Alexander.
''I believe you are right, Mr. Harrison. Are you free next Friday?''
I hear Tyler yell something at the TV and I shake my head. Soccer was definitely not my game. My phone buzzes.
''Not if you call me that!''
''Fine.'' I begin texting. ''Are you free on Friday, Alexander? Because I would really like to see you and tell you about this trip, but also because I miss you.''
''That was a penalty!'' Tyler shouts.
My phone buzzes again and I feel a warm feeling spreading through my body, when I read the text.
''I will see you Friday, Jones. Now put your headphones on, because it's not Manchester's night. Sweet dreams and know that I miss you too. Can't wait till Friday!''

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