She checked herself in the rearview mirror. She looked Scheiße! Her light brown hair was greasy and she looked tired. Hell, she was tired!
A nervous glance at her phone: No new messages.
Had Lina received her voice mail? Did she know that the plane had had over two hours of delay, that there had been unforeseen problems at the car rental and that the car she had received instead of the one she had reserved – Oh, I'm terribly sorry miss, it appears we've been overbooked... – yeah right! Arschloch! – was a miserable piece of junk of which the survival until she reached her destination would be the latest miracle of St-Christopher?! Why didn't Lina pick up her phone? She never went anywhere without the damned thing!
These past few days would hopefully be forgotten quickly. She had never liked a lot of commotion and let that be the definition of the past week... but it would be worth it. It would be worth it when she would arrive at Lina's doorstep, give her a massive hug and tell her that it would be alright. She had known immediately that it was a bad idea when Lina told her that she was going to follow her boyfriend of exactly two months, whom she had met during his Erasmus-like stay in Munich, to England, to stop her first year of studying economics at uni, to leave her family, to uproot everything for a guy whom she'd known for only two months! Two! Not that she had thought Andrew was a bad guy, but still. It was the principle of the matter. Then again, Lina had always been impulsive. So, she had remained quiet. And now she wished to wring his pathetic little neck for hurting and abandoning her only cousin whom he'd left for someone else just 5 weeks after she had followed him across the canal.
She had felt very relieved when she saw the caller ID on her phone a week ago. Finally! Some news! Tante Amahle had been concerned about her little girl leaving the country and Onkel Gerhart certainly hadn't been pleased. Maybe she should call them to say she had arrived safely? But wouldn't it be better to call in a few minutes together with Lina? Yes, that was a better idea. Just a few more kilometres. But Lina's call had not brought glad tidings. So she'd packed up in order to support her. Hopefully she would still be awake at this hour. Why hadn't she answered the texts?
After a few more kilometres and some searching by the headlights of the piece of junk, she finally pulled into the driveway of the house. Thankfully the lights were still burning, so Lina was probably still awake. She stepped out of the car, wiped her brow on her sleeve, took her luggage out of the trunk and jogged up to the door to ring the bell. At first, there were no signs of life, so she rang again. Maybe Lina had fallen asleep whilst waiting for her? But after a few more minutes she heard the turning of the key in the lock. When the door opened, she pushed passed an unkempt looking Lina, dropped her suitcase in the hallway and hugged Lina tightly to her. It was a bit awkward because of the height difference, but her cousin was used to her hugging her boobs by now. And anyway, what did it matter in the grand scheme of things. She felt so relieved to finally hold the girl who was like a little (well in age anyway) sister to her.
"Lina! I'm so happy to have arrived here!", she exclaimed, squeezing Lina's waist in a fierce hug, and immediately started rambling. "So glad to see you! Everything will be alright you know? I know it hurts and I know you probably do not want to hear it right now, but you will get over that jerk. Tante Amahle is so worried about you and so are Onkel and my parents, but you'll see, Mäuschen, it's going to be just fine. I will be staying here with you for three weeks – Professor Wolf has agreed to me staying that long – and it will be just like the old days! We'll watch cheesy movies, eat way too much chocolate and walk around in our pyjamas all day. I'll even make you some Kaiserschmarrn tomorrow – I brought a jar of Oma's Zwetschenröster for you. She sends you a lot of kisses by the way and told me to ask you to come home for Easter. And then in the next few days we can figure out what to do: whether you want to stay here anyway, in which case we'll have to find you a new place to stay, or not. The family would rather have you come home, to take up your studies again, but it's your decision and there is no need to rush it. But I was so worried when you didn't send me an answer to my texts and calls, why didn't you..." She looked up at the face of her cousin, took in the mussed hair and the look on her face. Oh no. She knew that look. She had been the recipient of it more times than she liked to admit and every single time it had spelled out trouble.
"What did you do this time? You only get that look when you did something wrong or stupid. Why are you looking so gui..."
A rustling noise coming from the living room caught her attention.
"Who's there? Don't tell me you took him back?! He left you for some bimbo! You told me that..."
A half-naked Andrew entered the hall, grimaced at her and sprinted up the stairs two steps at a time.
"Really Lina, how could you?!", she whispered harshly, watching the retreating figure.
Her cousin crossed her arms and tilted her nose upwards in her age-old show of stubbornness.
She conceded, "Fine, we'll talk about it in the morning. I'm too tired for this shit. You could have at least called to warn me! Just show me my room."
"We don't have a spare room."
"Fine, since I guess I won't be the one to share your bed tonight, I'll just sleep on the couch", she picked up her suitcase and walked towards the open door leading to the living room.
"Actually," said Lina, staring at the ground, "it would be better if you didn't sleep her at all."
She dropped her suitcase.
"What?", she asked disbelievingly.
"you heard me."
"What do you mean 'It would be better if I didn't sleep here'?", she asked, her voice raising with every word. "Do you have any idea what I went through to get here?! I have been travelling nonstop for 9 hours! Nine! I even asked my PhD promotor for leave! And why?! So I could come visit my dearest cousin – at her own request! - who had been cheated by her jerk of a boyfriend, whom she followed to England after only knowing him for two months. My cousin, who had dropped out of her courses and had abandoned her family without a word! Do you have any idea how worried we all were?! No texts, no calls, no e-mail, no news, no NOTHING! And then, when you finally call, it is to say that you need moral support, without so much as asking how I am, hell, or even how your parents are coping! Tante has been crying for weeks, because you never even replied to her messages! Don't you dare open your mouth! So, you ask, what do I do? Well, I pack up, use my savings to buy plane tickets and leave everything in a hurry to go comfort and support my cousin, only to find out that she has not only taken the cheating bastard back without a courtesy call to me, oh no, no, but that I also am not welcome in her fucking house!"
Her fingers twitched and she felt an uncontrollable urge to shake Lina roughly. What the fuck had she been thinking?! Well she hadn't been, that much was clear!
"Well, I can't exactly expect you to understand!", yelled Lina back
"What's that supposed mean?"
"You don't know anything about relationships! It's not like romance novels you know?! The only way you could ever dream of getting into one would be if it was an arranged marriage!"
That hurt. Tears stung her eyes, but she straightened her shoulders and refused to back down.
"Well, at least, by the looks of it I'm not missing much. And to be honest, that's beside the point. The point here is common curtesy. To say goodbye to your family before you leave the country for God knows how long, to let them know how you are, to react to my messages, to give me a head's up that you have company and to not go back on your word last minute when I put my life on hold to come support you, which apparently is no longer needed, which you also didn't tell me."
"It's not as if you have a life to put on hold...", Lina mumbled.
"That's neither for you to decide, nor the point of this conversation", she sighed, "You know what? Fuck this. We're not getting anywhere. Where am I supposed to sleep, if I am no longer welcome here?"
"There's a B&B called the 'The Old Post Office' about 25 miles away", Lina mumbled, pulling on a strand of hair.
"25 miles? That's like 40 kilometers?! I can't believe you're making me drive another 40 fucking kilometres in the middle of the night, because you don't want me in the same house as your cheating boyfriend!"
Lina opened her mouth to protest, but she didn't give her a chance to say anything.
"Just stuff it. Tell me you at least called them to get me room for tonight. No? Why am I not surprised?! And I suppose you don't have the directions either? Of course not! Now I can go there not even knowing whether I'll have a place to sleep after the drive. Who knows? Well, excuse, me, I'll just take my unwanted self out of here so you can go back to humping that jerk..."
She picked up her suitcase and stormed out of the door, back towards the crappy car. As she was opening the trunk to stuff the suitcase back inside, Lina stood fidgeting in the doorway.
"Laura, perhaps you could come by tomorrow and...", Lina said in a small voice that did not fit her usually brash personality.
"No. Tomorrow, I'm driving this piece of junk back to the rental, buying a new plane ticket and going home."
"No, Lina!", Laura's voice broke, but she carried on, "I am tired of being taken for granted! I am not some servant at your disposal and neither is the rest of our family. This isn't the first time you've done this kind of thing and you know it. You made your bed and now you have to lie in it. Call us when you know the meaning of 'family'."
Ignoring what else her cousin might have to say, she got into the car and started driving.
So, I hope you liked the first chapter! I know that not much has happened yet, but that will change in the following chapters.
I would love any reviews or comments!
Until very soon,