"Everyone else is going to be at some tropical getaway. Some are even going to Europe," I griped to my mother. "Why do I have to spend my winter vacation in a cabin in the middle of Michigan?"
I could already imagine them talking about their adventures to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Paris, and Barcelona over the lunch table at school. And then Lauren Presley would look over at me, flip her disgustingly perfect blonde hair over her shoulder, and say, "So Kiran, where did you go for break?" And I was supposed to tell her that I had spent it in the snowy, abandoned countryside of Michigan with my mom and brother? No way in hell.
"Kiran, this is one of the last vacations we'll have all together before you go off to college. We're going to have a nice family break at the resort." Mom impatiently tapped her red fingernails on the kitchen counter. "It's really beautiful up there, Kiki. Your father and I used to take trips up there all the time before you were born…"
Back when they had actually liked each other. Honestly, I might have inherited my round, big eyes from my dad and my shiny dark hair from my mom, but I consistently prayed to God that I would inherit better relationship skills than either of them had. But having parents like Vince and Mara Nelson, the odds weren't in my favor.
"I can't imagine why anyone would go there. There's absolutely nothing to do. There's no skiing or ice skating or anything. Just a whole lot of snow. So why should I be kept there for the entirety of my junior year winter break?" I cocked my hip and folded my arms, giving my mom the teenager face I knew she hated so much.
"Kiran, you're not going to change my mind," Mom said decidedly. "We're going to Lourdes Resort, and you're coming with us." After a moment she attempted to smile and she rumpled my hair. "It'll be fun! Remember all those family vacations we used to take, just you, Dom and me..."
"And Dad," I commented. I looked down at my arms, folded over my chest.
Yeah, I remember those vacations. We'd take a road trip to somewhere we'd never been before: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago. Dad singing lame oldies songs as he drove, and Mom would sat in the passenger seat crocheting baby blankets for people we barely knew. I would sit in the back seat with my little brother Dominick-in one of our rare displays of affection- and we would wear crazy sunglasses and wave to drivers in other cars, pretending to be the hottest celebrities.
But now, all of that all seemed centuries behind.
I swallowed and said shakily, "That was when Dad was around."
"Is that what all this is about? Your dad not being around?" Mom's voice quavered.
I looked up at her. She was pretty. She was still a young mom, with a killer body and great taste. But if she kept on moping like this, she could kiss any chance at a second husband goodbye.
"No, this isn't about Dad," I sighed. "And anyways, I had fun on those vacations when I was about five. I'm sixteen years old. Those days are over, Mom."
I began to walk out of the room.
"So you'll have your things packed and ready by six AM tomorrow?"
I sighed. There was no point in arguing when I would never win. "Six AM tomorrow."