Once is Enough

So this story was written for my discord event on the writer’s mess where the theme of the week is vacations and the word limit is 1000 words. I chose to incorporate a few of the prompts and one of the photo’s and came up with this story of the vacation gone bad. I hope you enjoy it, as the character certainly did not!

Prompts: A vacation that didn’t live up to the hype, The vacation where everything that could go wrong did, A vacation where someone got to go somewhere they always dreamed of. The transit too or from vacation, A vacation where one or more of the parties got ill, and this picture

Apparently of the Greek Island Karpathos

 I finally booked what everyone called “the trip of a lifetime”.  A fourteen-day trip to the Greek island where my great-grandparents had lived. Eight days of self guided walking tours, six days to laze on the beach, and a luxury hotel with a king size bed to revel in.

The best part of going it alone was that it was all at my speed.  It didn’t matter if I wanted to sleep in, or get up and go out at 3am. I was on my own.

I got to the airport three hours in advance of my international flight, and saw that between loading the cab and reaching the airport my flight had been pushed out an hour. I went through customs, checked most my bags, and headed off in search of coffee.

I took that first sip, and as the first burning liquid hit my tongue I sputtered from the pain.  I sloshed the coffee, dropping it as it burned my hand, and then my day went downhill.  The flight was delayed three hours, then five, and then seven.  Not all at once, just as it got close to get on the flight they pushed it out. When they cancelled it, the only way to rebook was…to stay and talk to an agent.   I was rebooked and booted from four flights before I finally got into a plane, exhausted, harried and on a flight that left the same time as the one a booked just one day later.

The first hour passed uneventfully and I drifted to sleep. It was six hours before I was jolted awake.   The jolting didn’t stop as we were skirting the same storm system that had led to yesterday’s flight being cancelled.   I kept a hold of my lunch, but the smells and sounds around told me that many had not.

The children and babies around me screamed and cried, and I couldn’t blame them.  I wanted to cry too.  It continued all the way to the hardest landing of my life, and looking at my watch I realized that I hadn’t imagined it dragging on.  We had been in the air an hour longer than we should have been.

It was okay though. I was there, in Greece, alive.    The relief was short lived at the baggage claim, where my two large suitcases were absent.  I waited an hour before they would let me file a claim, gave them my contact details, and discovered I missed the ferry shuttle.  The last shuttle, for the last ferry for the night.  The airport was surprising accommodating.  Maybe it was my missing bags, or the look of a woman who running on too little sleep after the flight from hell, but they put my up at an airport hotel, free of charge.

I dragged my carryon and backpack into the hotel room and crashed on the bed fully clothed.  I woke up to the alarm, showered, and smiled.  I had listened to my mother and packed enough underwear for the trip in my carry-on.  I had a single swim suit, and two outfits, one casual, one fancy. While it meant I would have to buy some stuff if the luggage didn’t show, it could’ve been worse.

I checked out at the front desk, and they told me no luck on the luggage. I headed to the shuttle, which was the bumpiest ride of my life, but I was on my way.  I got off the bus, and was floored by my first view of the Aegean.  It was stunning.

I got seasick on the ferry.   Very, very, sea sick, but I made it.  I took another shuttle to my hotel, where… my room had been given away.  They gave me a partial refund and downgraded me to a room with a single bed.  It was okay though; I didn’t plan on staying there much anyways.  

I walked down to the local market and bought some clothes, mentally cutting some of the hiking from my schedule.   I cut the rest when I sprained my ankle in a pothole on my way into the hotel. 

I made the best of it though, hobbling up, and throwing on a swimsuit, and some sunscreen.  I grabbed a book my carry-on, some water, and headed down to the beach with a bag of ice from the concierge for my foot.  I laid on the beach and relaxed.  The sea filled my view and if I did nothing else, this was worth it.

I woke up in the hospital two days later.  I had fallen asleep on the beach, and gotten heat stroke.  They rushed me to the mainland hospital, and I was covered in a deep red burn that screamed at the smallest touch. I booked a small hotel room by the airport and laid on a bed miserable for the day leading to my flight.  The island hotel had kindly shipped me my belongings.

When I finally went to catch my flight my hair was a rat’s nest. In a momentary splurge I went to an airport salon and got it cut.  They knew how to cut Greek hair here, but they did not speak English well. It was three large snips before I realized when I said 6 inches off they understood 6 inches long.  It was too late though, and I cried my way through the rest of the hair cut.

The flight was smooth, and I was met with my missing luggage as I left the plane. I walked into the lounge and saw my mother. 

She lit up as she spoke. “Oh, my, you went native.  You must have loved it there.” 

I turned, looked at some mirrored glass in confusion.  My hair was short but cut in a style that flattered my face. My clothes were a traditional dress and sandal. My burn had faded to look like a deep tan.

I turned back, smiled, and said “It was the trip of a lifetime.”


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