Both Melanie and Emanuel were having a lively conversation in the living room. Their daughter, Gemini, born on June 15 and about three years old was playing happily with her dolls and toy kitchen set.
“So, are we accepting the invitation?” asked Melanie eagerly.
"I would like to take a break from work and take you and Gemini to the wonderful parks in Los Angeles. Besides, spending time in your relative's home would be fun. My first impression of them is that they are good, fun-loving people."
“Thanks for the compliment, Emanuel. I am concerned about something though. Gemini has never been on an airplane. I wonder if she would make a three-hour journey by air.”
“Don’t worry about that. Gemini should start learning and experiencing new things. She should learn to adjust to new surroundings above all.
“You are right, Emanuel. I am being concerned for nothing.”
“How many days can you take off from work?”
"Well, I think three days. But I don't plan to stay in LA for three days. I would like to relax here at home for one day after returning."
"Lazybones, so when will you join Gemini and me at Aunt Lily's home?"
“Two days later.”
“All right, it is settled then. I will let Aunt Lily know we are accepting the invitation. She is very special, keeping her family together and now celebrating her 40th marriage anniversary with her husband. I admire her."
“You are more admirable”, Emanuel put in quickly.
"Really? You think so?"
“Why not? You manage everything so well. Without you, I am lost.”
“Ha! Thanks for the compliment.”
“You are welcome, dear.”
“I will go ahead and see what I have to pack for myself and Gemini. You can pack yours later.”
The day arrived when Melanie, along with her daughter Gemini, would fly from their place, Austin to Los Angeles, her Aunt’s place.
Emanuel drove them to the airport. At the airport, after their suitcases were weighed and checked in, Melanie and Gemini waved goodbye to Daddy. Gemini was excited and waved at Daddy more enthusiastically.
Melanie was happy to see Gemini in good spirits. It looked like she would happily make the three-hour journey by air.
They both took a seat near the destined terminal. It was not long before the flight to LA was announced. Melanie took Gemini by the hand and showed their required documents at the counter. They were allowed to enter the gate.
After walking a distance, Gemini and Melanie boarded the appropriate airplane. Melanie put her roll-on in the upper cabinet. She settled herself and Gemini in their seats.
The airplane having all its passengers boarded gradually took off. Wheels went inside, and with the wings moving to and fro, the plane glided into the air. It was a smooth takeoff, and Gemini felt no fear but sheer invigoration.
After an hour, they were served drinks and snacks. After another two hours, the plane started to descend downwards. Gemini couldn’t hold her breath. She was eager to land at the airport and just couldn’t wait any longer.
Finally, Melanie and her daughter got off the plane and walked through the airport. Gemini looked around everywhere, unable to comprehend what was going on.
Melanie was busy tracking their suitcases and finally putting them in a trolley. She looked at Gemini and was surprised to find her tear-eyed.
Melanie remarked, "What's wrong, honey? You made the journey very well. But you look so unhappy. Why is that?"
Gemini replied sorrowfully, “I don’t see Daddy anywhere. He is supposed to be here, isn’t he?”
It hadn’t occurred to Melanie or Emanuel before that their daughter would be confused about flights and airports like this.
Melanie tried to explain. “We have flown to Los Angeles, another city where my Aunt lives. We are here to attend her party. Daddy will be joining us soon. Don’t feel so bad. Daddy will come to us.”
Gemini replied in a melancholy voice, “Everything looks odd without Daddy.”
Melanie said, "No, it doesn't. You will enjoy yourself at Aunt Lily's place. She is your Great Aunt. We are here to have fun. Cheer up!"
Gemini remained quiet and unhappy until Great Aunt Lily turned up and gave her a Burgundy rose.
“Wow!” Gemini exclaimed. “This does smell awesome. Thank you, Great Aunt Lily.”
“You are welcome, Gemini.”
“Come, this way”, she guided them both.
A van was waiting outside. Melanie and her daughter's suitcases and belongings were loaded onto it. Aunt Lily, Mommy, and Gemini seated inside comfortably.
Gemini found great solace in the beautiful rose handed to her by Great Aunt Lily. She smelled it at a stretch and felt at peace.
By the time they reached Aunt Lily’s place, it was pitch dark in the later evening. The van driver helped with dispatching the suitcases and belongings at Aunt Lily’s door. They all thanked him warmly, and he was gone.
Lily’s son came in to take the suitcases and accessories to the guest room. Melanie and her daughter followed.
There was a king-sized bed, wardrobe with mirrors, an empty table, and chairs as well as an attached bathroom.
Gemini dropped dog-tired on the bed. Melanie lay down beside her daughter. Both fell into a deep slumber until an hour later Aunt Lily knocked on their door to have supper.
After a quick meal and feeling exhausted, mother and daughter retreated to the guest room and soon fell fast asleep.
They woke up the next morning refreshed. After finishing off morning rituals, Mommy and Gemini went to the dining table to have breakfast with Aunt Lily’s family. They chatted together and had great conversations. After a while, everyone left home for work or school. Only Aunt Lily remained.
She showed the mother and daughter the outside of their home, the surroundings, gardens, roads, and shops at a distance. Both Mommy and her daughter were thrilled. They were enjoying every moment of their visit.
The next day later in the morning when Melanie was busy talking to Aunt Lily and Gemini was sitting quietly, somebody came from behind and touched her shoulder with warm hands. Gemini turned back and was surprised to see Daddy.
“Daddy! You are here!” exclaimed Gemini in utter happiness.
“Yes, certainly. I missed you, Gemini”, said Emanuel.
Gemini replied quickly, “I missed you too, Daddy.”
Daddy Emanuel said smilingly, “Let me get refreshed. And then we can hire a cab to visit the beautiful parks in the city just as I promised.”
Gemini was super excited and couldn’t wait. Melanie gave her a new dress to wear. She shifted to a new getup as well. In ten minutes, they were both ready.
Daddy called a cab from the nearby road, and off the three left for sightseeing. Only Aunt Lily remained at her home.
Daddy showed around beautiful parks with spaces to play for children, walk in nature, and have snacks from nearby shops.
After they had visited four lovely parks, Gemini gave in and announced she couldn’t go on any longer. Daddy took her in his arms, called a cab, and together with Mommy, they returned to their host’s place.
The next day, which was the 40th marriage anniversary of Aunt Lily and her husband, arrived promptly. There was to be a party at their home on the occasion, which was why Melanie’s family was invited.
Everyone dressed their best in their elegant outfits, shoes, makeup, and accessories. The party began with light music in the background. The children had coke and ice cream while the adults toasted a little champagne to cheer Aunt Lily and her husband on this special occasion.
Food and dinner were served. Everyone had their fair share of scrumptious meals, which they relished a lot.
Lots of discussions and conversations flowed on various topics, including the weather and current politics, until it was time for all the guests to leave.
Melanie and Emanuel already packed their suitcases and belongings. They changed into comfortable clothes and shoes. Aunt Lily arranged for her van to see them off at the airport.
Gemini was extremely happy to travel with both her parents. The concept of flights and airports made good sense to her now. After about a three-hour journey again, they got off the plane, collected their suitcases, and called a cab to take them to their destined home.
On reaching home, the family washed up and put on sleepwear. Both the parents kissed on either cheek of Gemini and lullabied her to sleep.
Melanie and Emanuel conversed briefly about their visit and retired to bed also. They were happily proud of their only daughter, Gemini, who was starting to learn new things and understand life more lucidly.
© 2021 Rosina S Khan