My sister-in-law is a freak! Honestly, she’s top dog of the highest order of controllers, yet she doesn’t see it. There should be an early warning system in place when she threatens to come to town.
I’d booked myself a trip to Paris, for no reason other than I wanted to. I kept it quiet, but I can’t lie. She somehow got wind of it, and was straight on the phone.
‘Maggie, I hear you’re planning a lone trip to Paris?’ I glance heavenward and silently plead permission for a tiny, itsy-bitsy, white porky. And God said,
‘Yes Donna, it’s only a week-end though.’ I cringed.
‘No you’re not. I’m coming with you.’ Those last four words detonated an explosion in my happy bubble as my planned excursion to the City of Lights fell apart like a wet Kleenex.
‘I’m flying from London to Paris,’ I say, ‘To save time.’ Giggles; she hates flying.
‘Maggie, it’s only a couple of hours by Eurostar.’ There she goes, already.
‘I’d thought about the ferry, too.’ I’m struggling.
‘I’m seasick Maggie.’ I knew that too. I’m sensing disapproving frowns from on high. ‘What about Le Shuttle?’ She never gives up.
‘Fine!’ I concede defeat. ‘Forty five minutes in a tunnel under the sea Donna. Hope you’re not claustrophobic.’
She’d done it again, manipulated me to suit herself. I’m hopping mad with her. Okay, she means well, but she’s so pernickety. I kiss goodbye to my boat trip down the Seine, a visit to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. I say hello to outrageously exorbitant, posh shops whose windows I can’t afford to lick the steam off.
The weekend arrived in a flurry of south easterly gales and torrential rain. She’d booked a coach travelling from outer London, to the UK passenger terminal, and through the tunnel into France.
‘I’ve packed us sandwiches and a flask of tea,’ she said. ‘You never know who’s fingered the food at motorway services.’ Bang goes my McDonald’s!
At the terminal building, everyone left the coach to visit the retail outlets. Not us, just in case an illegal immigrant tries to hide in the toilet. ‘Donna, they’re trying to get into the country, not out.’ I sighed.
Eventually, the coach pulled onto the train carriage and the tunnel swallowed us up as an angry storm whipped and tossed the English Channel above. A small, sleeping boy awoke. ‘Yikes,’ he squealed, clapping his hands. ‘We’re underneath the sea. Dad, what if the roof leaks?’
‘It only happened twice,’ teased his brother.
Donna was looking pasty. ‘You okay?’ I asked.
‘I need the loo.’ I couldn’t resist,
‘You might find it illegally occupied.’
Inside our coach was now dimly lit. I suggested we stand outside on the carriage walkway where other travellers chatted with one another. ‘What an amazing feat of engineering,’ observed an elderly man as he mused upon the structure. ‘And did you know, at its lowest point, it’s 75metres in depth?’
The youngster’s ears pricked up. ’And, there’s trillions and billions of raging sea above us? Are we in the middle yet?’ I smiled at the boy.
‘You know some stuff.’ I said. ‘You’re very clever.’ He looked right past my left ear, and pointed.
‘What’s the matter with your friend?’
I turned to see Donna looking decidedly green around the gills. ‘I’m going to be sick,’ she declared. ‘Can you not talk about the sea?’
Following on, I witnessed a surge of hysteria fit for an Oscar. She cut all manner of capers; flitting from person to person, prattling on; laughing inappropriately, like a spotted hyena. ‘Deep breaths,’ I pleaded. ‘Chill!’
That worked well. Within minutes she was hyperventilating and clutching her chest. ‘She’s choking on her spit,’ the small boy offered.
Now, I saw the sad reality of control freak Donna’s life. Small wonder the need to order her environment and everyone in it. A huge chunk of her life was engulfed in fear and insecurity. I sensed a rumble on high. I held my breath.
‘You organised this, didn’t you? ’ And God said,
Suddenly, the young boy yelled, ‘What’s that dazzling light coming toward us?’ Big brother dryly announced, ‘It’s a runaway train.’
Immediately, my never less than perfectly organised, utterly composed sis-in-law slumped into an untidy heap at my feet; but surfaced in time to witness the astonishing, blazing sunshine breaking through the heavens, as we whistled out the other end.
And God said,
‘Donna, I’m missing you!’
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