In Which Kate Leaves On A "Vacation"
“A vacation?” Shera gleefully exclaimed. I busied myself packing my dufflebag, double-checking every item as I stashed it away. I could feel her feline yellow eyes watching my every move.
“Yup. I’m going to Planet Pompeii.” I ignored the sputter and gasp as Shera almost choked on the tea she had been slowly working on finishing.
“Pom-POMPEII Pompeii? As in across-the-universe-and-back-again-pompeii?! Pompeii, known for its volcanic craters, and vast desert that people get LOST in?”
I turned, and gave her a look. You know the one, the look that says, “Honestly, Shera.” I shook my head. “Do you have to be so cheerful about my deciding to take a vacation? I’m going for the sunbathing, and the tourism in the capital city. I have absolutely no intention of seeing the desert, or going near a volcanic crater.” I zipped up my bag. “So I’ll see ya.” I dragged the dufflebag off my bed, and into the living room.
Able reached down, picked it up, and slung it over his shoulder.
“You! Go with her, or so help me, I will cat-scratch you!” Shera hissed.
I rolled my eyes. “Ignore her, she files her claws to nubs so she doesn’t scratch her kids.” I turned to Shera, and took her shoulders in my hands. “Do me a favor, take a deep breath.” I inhaled. “In.” I exhaled. “And out - hooo.”
Shera shook her head. “I don’t like Pompeiians.”
“I know, it’s off in the Octavia Nebula.” I said as I approached the pram where my adopted 2-year-old ant baby was chewing on a rubber ring.
“Bugs.” Shera shivered.
Able, being a large, white-shelled Hercules beetle, snorted at the black cat girl’s comment.
“Yeah, you, beetle!” she pointed at him.
Able opened his mouth a bit, and growled at Shera.
“YEEP!” Shera jumped behind me then poked her fluffy black head out, and hissed at Able.
Able closed his mouth with a hollow snap.
I giggled. “Aww, Auntie Shewa’s afwaid of Able, yes she is, yes she is!” I cooed at Piyoh, and kissed his fatty shelled cheek. He squirmed, and squealed.
“Sher!” Op, Shera’s gorilla husband, lumbered in on his knuckles, his sons Pandu and Zahir perched on his back. “Hey Kate, goin’ to Pompeii still?”
Shera jumped out from behind me, and pointed at her gorilla husband with accuse, her pupils narrowed to slits. “You knew!!”
“Yup.” I sidled past Shera then passed Able. I leaned down, and held out Piyoh. “You’re gonna go stay with uncle Op for a week.” I handed Piyoh over, and my cute little baby started coddling, in which Piyoh latches onto, and sucks a surface – in this case, Op’s furry arm. I stood up, and leaned over the two ape boys on Op’s back. “Bye little guys, I’m off to see the universe.”
“Bye.” Zahir said with little to no enthusiasm, eyes watching me wearily.
“Kaykay don’t go!” Pandu grabbed my arm, and held on. “You gotta stay!”
“Hey, Pandu,” Op turned, grabbed Pandu, and gently pulled him off of me. The little one screamed angrily. He sat down on the floor, Zahir climbing up to his shoulder. Pandu fussed, and kicked Piyoh’s foot. Piyoh kicked back, and soon they were playing, my departure forgotten.
“I have a plane to catch.” I sighed. Op nodded. I turned to Shera, and was about to ask for a goodbye when the last two of Shera and Op’s kids, twin girls, ran in, and grabbed each of my legs. “Wha?! Hey, Taiwo, Dafina-AAA!” I fell forward, much to the two girls’ amusement.
Shera folded her arms. “Serves you right. I’m not letting you go to Pompeii.” She frowned.
I pushed myself up on my arm, but my legs had been pinned by the two gorilla girls. “Shera, this isn’t really a discussion. I’m going. End of story.” I growled.
“Girls, off of Auntie Kate’s legs. Now.” Op said in his loud dad voice.
“No! Mommy said Kakay not going!” Dafina’s never failing stubbornness made my head hurt.
“I have a plane to catch!” I exclaimed. “I- oh?” I craned my head to look up as a large, clawed hand grabbed the back of my shirt, and lifted me up.
“No, no, no!” Dafina shrieked as she and Taiwo dangled from my ankles.
Shera hissed. “You cheater! She can’t go to Pompeii!” She shook a fist at Able, who held me by the back of my shirt.
“Yeah, I can, and he’s gonna see that I get there.” I spat.
My patience, normally very thick, and saturated, had been pulled thin and brittle lately. I took a deep breath, but I could neither convince myself, or the beetle holding my shirt, and staring at me that I was as calm as I pretended to look.
I looked at Able. “My shirt is riding up.” Was all I could say with agitation at this point. I appreciate Shera’s concern, but she’s projecting her paranoia this time, and I won’t have it.
The white beetle man nodded.
“Shera!” I snapped, turning my head sharply down to look at her as Able set me on my feet. “I have been through hell, and back! I am tired, I am traumatized, and I need a vacation! I am not asking your permission, nor am I looking for your approval. I am going to Pompeii, END of DISCUSSION!” I turned on my heel after Op pried off his daughters, said a quick goodbye to Op and the kids, and stormed out of the door, Able lumbering behind with my dufflebag. I convinced Able I could endure a cab ride alone to the airport, thanked him for his concern, and was still frustrated after the security check, and check-in for my flight. I sat in the terminal waiting area, amongst traveling families, business persons, and single travelers like myself. I watched a little girl play tug-o-war with who I assumed to be her brother, both sitting across the aisle from me. It was only then that I started to regret being so short with Shera, and the kids. The kids mostly, they were just doing what mom-kitty wanted. It was nothing personal toward me. Maybe.
“Okay.” huffed a familiar, if not slightly out of breath voice next to me. Shera plopped into the seat next to me, Pandu on her lap. “I’m sorry, okay?” she panted.
I stared, mouth open slightly, shaking my head slowly. “How did you-? I only just got here ten minutes ago.”
“I know.” Shera sighed. “We left just after you did. Op made me calm down first, oh, and Able said you left this.” she held out my wallet.
I gawked. “But-!”
“You took your ID out. Did it ever occur to you that you might need money where you’re going? Souvenirs and whatnot. I want a sandtrap, by the way.”
I blinked at her. “A sand...trap?”
Shera’s fluffy brow rose on one side. “You’re going to Pompeii, and didn’t even do your tourist research?” She asked.
“I looked up resorts. The one on Pompeii came highly recommended. There’s some kind of tour over...” I thought, but had to pull out my little print-out. “The dragon pits.” I read then felt a sudden unease wash over me. “Dragon-?”
“Not Dragon, it’s pronounced Dray-goon. Look how it’s spelled in Sephora, there’s little marks over the vowels.” Shera leaned on her hand. “So, Sephora, Pompeii.” She shrugged. “Could be worse, I suppose.” She didn’t seem convinced. Neither was I. “I only worry because the farther from the city you get, you see more...” She shuddered. “Native Pompeiians.”
It was my turn to raise an eyebrow. “You’re afraid of the locals?”
Shera was visibly disturbed by the thought. “Pompeii is very nice this time of year, I’ll give you that, but I’m never setting foot on that planet.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Why? what’s wrong with the natives?”
Shera looked around quickly then lowered her voice, and said barely above a whisper. “Scorpions.”
A cold chill ran down my back. All I’d ever heard about Scorpions were hushed warnings, and passing rumors. Dangerous came up frequently, along with murderers, and thieves. I made my head shake, and said. “I don’t...believe that.” and quickly, I changed the subject. “Tell me what a sand trap is, so I know what to bring you.”
“It’s a drink mix you can only get on Pompeii.” Shera said, winked then stood. “I hear your boarding call.”
“Wait, if you can only get it on Pompeii, and you’ve never been-?”
Shera shook her head.
“You have?” I arched an eyebrow at her.
Shera nods silently with wide eyes.
Before I could answer, I heard the boarding call, hugged Shera and Pandu, and lined up to board the transport. I glanced at Shera as I entered the breezeway, wondering when she had gone to Pompeii, and why hadn’t she ever talked about it? I shrugged it off.