My heart pounds through my chest and I look down to see if it’s visible through my school shirt. It isn’t. I’m willing myself to look up again, to make eye contact with Aunt Kathy or Uncle Peter, as they stand looking at me, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I can feel my bottom lip trembling and I use my hand to cover it by pretending to wipe my nose on my sleeve. I have no idea what’s going on, but for some reason I get the feeling Aunt Kathy is about to tell me I’m going to be sent to a new placement. A new home, with new carers. I don’t want to be sent away. I like it here.
Aunt Kathy and Uncle Peter are the best carers I’ve ever had. I’ve lived with them for almost two years now and I couldn’t imagine life anywhere else. They’re my family. Well, they’re not my real family, but they’re as close to it as any foster kid could hope for. I wonder if Paige will be sent away too, or if it’s just me. Paige has only been here for a couple of months now. She’s a lot younger than me and we have nothing in common, but I know I’d still miss her.
“Abby? What’s wrong?” I can hear the worry in Aunt Kathy’s voice, but I can’t bring myself to look at her.
“I don’t want to leave” I will the tears not to fall, but they do anyway.
“Is that what you think? You think we’re sending you away?” Her words are filled with concern and I brace myself and look up at her, nodding my head.
“We’re not going to do that. We actually have some really good news for you, do you want to hear it?” I nod again and she pulls out a chair and invites me to sit with her as Uncle Peter puts a mug of hot chocolate in front of me. I love hot chocolate, but my tummy is doing backflips and I can’t bring myself to take a sip.
“Uncle Peter and I heard back from your case worker today.” She pauses for effect and I grip onto the arms of the chair to still my shaking. “It has been approved for you to stay with us until you’re eighteen.” She looks at me and I can tell she is trying to gauge my response. I smile at her and she instantly relaxes. I jump up and give her a hug, then Uncle Peter. They’re both smiling at me when I sit back down and reach out for my hot chocolate.
Since my parents died when I was really little, I’ve not had a real home. I’ve moved house more times that I can count and lived with so many different people, it’s hard to remember all their names, but I’ve never lived anywhere that felt like home the way Aunt Kathy and Uncle Peter’s does. When I was really little, I used to wish I could go and live with my mum’s sister and her husband, just like my little brother Lockie. I don’t wish that anymore though. I haven’t seen any of them in almost 7 years now. Now I wish Lockie would come and live here instead.
I think Lockie and Paige would get along really well, as they’re really close in age. I don’t really know what Lockie’s like anymore though. He was only a baby when our parents died and he was sent to go and live with our Aunt and Uncle. They didn’t want me to live with them and I was sent into care. I’ve not seen Lockie since. I really miss him.
“We have another surprise for you too.” Aunt Kathy is holding a thick envelope in her hand and she holds it out toward me. When I try to take it, she snatches it back and laughs, before handing it over. I rip open the seal and pull the booklet out. It has a picture of an airplane on the front. When I open it up I see a ticket with my name on it and a passport with my school photo.
I look from Aunt Kathy to Uncle Peter and back again. Aunt Kathy holds up three other tickets with a grin on her face. I gasp in utter surprise. “Where are we going?”
“Read your ticket.”
I look down and see the arrival time is 10.32am tomorrow at Denpasar Airport, Indonesia.
“Oh. My. God. Are you kidding me right now?”
“Does it look like we’re kidding?” Uncle Peter gets up from his chair as the door chime rings through the house and Bindi races to the door barking. I squeal so loud Aunt Kathy has to cover her ears. I’m going to another country. Flying over an ocean with the two most awesome people in the world. I jump from my chair and wrap my arms around Aunt Kathy.
“Thank you thank you thank you.” I can’t think of any other words.
Roxanne and Quentin walk into the dining room ladden with bags, with Bindi trailing behind wagging her tail. Roxanne has a knowing smile and asks if I got my present yet. I nod frantically and jump up and down on the spot holding my ticket.
“I’m coming too.” Quentin grins and I look to Aunt Kathy, who nods in confirmation.
“And you?” I look at Roxanne and she shakes her head.
“Nope, just you guys, I have to work.” Roxy is a lawyer and works all the time. She moved in with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Peter when she was a little girl, but now she’s all grown up and has her own house, her husband Gregory and Quentin, who’s seven. I like Roxanne and want to grow up to be like her, she’s very smart and beautiful. She has dark skin and green eyes and long jet black hair that she wears tied up in buns and clips all the time.
“You, young lady need to go and pack, we have to leave first thing in the morning.” Uncle Peter taps on my shoulder and I race off to my bedroom. “There’s a list of things you need to pack on your bed, tick them off as you go so you don’t forget anything.”
“Okay.” I call back as I open my bedroom door. There’s a brand new suitcase on my bed, with some new clothes for the trip. I grab a pastel green dress and run back to the dining room. “Are these all mine?” I hold the dress up and stare at Aunt Kathy.
“Well, they won’t fit me, will they?” She laughs and I run back to my room to go through all my new clothes and pack for our holiday in Indonesia.