Charmaine Hollands exhaled sharply, opened her eyes and looked towards the front seat where her parents sat comfortably in their bubble of wedded bliss. They were all smiles, excitedly chattering the hours away about their big plans for the summer.
Jet-setting around the world without a care, no expenses spared. New adventures, fun to be had, great people to meet, magnificent foods to be tried, dreams to be followed. And all without a moody teenager tagging along was just how they described it.
It wasn’t unusual for Charmaine to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere for months on end, to receive only a single dread-filled call upon her parents’ return. This time, however, she wondered if this would be the last time.
Sounds of The Isley Brothers filled the space within their station wagon, instantly annoying the girl as her father screeched illegible lyrics that collided awfully with her mother’s laugh.
Catching her mother’s eye, Charmaine diverted her attention to the vast fields they were speeding past. Silently, she counted bales of hay to keep herself occupied. Her hope to avoid an awkward and unwanted conversation dashed when her mother turned down the radio. “There you go with that moping again, bringing down everyone’s mood. You should be excited to see your grandparents, Char! It’ll do you some good, help you with a little more discipline before you get to college.”
“But it never occurred to you that traveling out of the country at least once might serve me well too?”
“We tried that Darling, you fought us against boarding school. Time with your grandparents really is the only option.”
Seeing her grandparents had never been the problem, feeling unwanted by her own parents had. All this trip would do, she felt, was give someone else the chance to finish raising her while her parents continued to live their lives freely, as they had tried the entirety of her seventeen years. Almost as if they were finally ridding themselves of her.
“Besides,” her father chimed in “it’s not as if Charles and Odessa have anything better to do with their time. Do they ever?”
“In that little old town, never. I can’t tell you how glad I was to pack it up and get away once I turned eighteen.”
Charmaine scoffed, mummering to herself as she scrambled to put her headphones on. “And yet you choose to drag me there summer after summer, instead of inviting them AND me with you wherever you go.”
“Small surroundings like that builds character, that’s for sure. You loved it as a young child, you’ll love it today. Now please lighten up Char, no one likes a buzzkill.”
She sank deeper into the backseat, turning up the volume on her Walkman. “And no one likes to feel alone either.” She allowed the heavy drums and rock driven guitar riffs of a Taylor Dayne song take her away from the conversation her parents continued about her pitiful and ungrateful attitude and all the fun they’d have without her.