"Oh c'mon mom. Do I have to go to his house?" I ask my mother as she takes my suitcase and stuffs it in the trunk of our car.
"Yes, Alek. You must. Since your dad and I are getting a divorce, things are getting a bit messy, so I'm sending you to your grandfather's house in Ukraine. Besides, it would be good to meet family. Wouldn't you think so?" My mother says.
"I don't think so. Besides, they're just a bunch of old people that don't speak English." I explain to her. My mother just shakes it off and starts up the car.
"Come on, get in!" she says. I just sigh and get in the car.
It's an hour or two before we get to the airport, and before my mom finally convinces me to go to Ukraine and visit my grandfather. After making this decision, I realize that it's the wrong one. Because we have already left the airport. For the next 16 hours, I am forced to look out the window and wonder about how hellish my summer is going to be.
When we touch in Ukraine, I look around for my grandfather Viktor. After ten minutes, I find him. He is this man with a stubbly gray beard that connects with his moustache. His appearance reminds me much of a character in one of my favorite video games, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Well, minus the Italian accent anyway. His dark brown eyes feel like he is staring into my soul, and not in the good way.
"Hello, Alek." He says as he reaches for my hand to shake it.
"Hello Mr. Chernov-Bellinski." I say as I shiver from his beer-flooded breath.
"Please, call me Grandfather." He says with a smile.
"Sure thing – Grandfather." I struggle to say.
After our awkward meeting, I get inside his car and try to make myself comfortable, with the haunting smell of vomit and Heineken beer.
To start a conversation, I ask, "Is it that safe for you to constantly be drinking?"
"Of course it is my boy. Don't believe the shit that those American doctors tell you. Pfft, those freaking assholes." He says in response. "Besides, it's not like I live with anyone."
"Ok, then." I say in a questionable manner.
"Would you like to know about my role in the Chernobyl incident?" He asks gently.
"You mean the story that half of the world already knows? Sure, why not?" I say sarcastically.
"You're a smart ass, aren't you boy?" He grunts.
"I've been told." I snap back.
"Oh, you're in for a hell of a summer, boy. A hell of a summer." He says as he swerves out of the way of a pickup truck. "Watch it Chyort!"
"Doesn't seem like one so far," I say as I look up toward the sky as if it were my last day on Earth…