“Irina, let’s pack up”! Anna impatiently shouted at the doorway. Summer days never fill in with boredom but hope for a delightful day out at sea in your 17th year. Two cousins ecstatically mulled over snacks for their trip to the Black Sea a night before when grandma brought up boiled potatoes and eggs to be bundled chaotically with apricots from her private garden. “This summer couldn’t get better, as my naughty little pale-skinned cousin is here” Irina deeply inhaled. Their unique holiday friendship had flourished since childhood. Irina’s mum and grandma announced their vacation house was to be open for relatives from Europe at any time. Nothing is more pleasurable than looking after her little cousin.
Being 15 years old, Anna, with her tiny body shape and pale skin, showed signs of her life in cold Europe. As the prettiest in the family, proudly mentioning her European background to Irina’s friends, Anna felt a strong bond to country holidays with her cousin though, and away from parents’ control. Irina’s town friend, Olga, asked to join the cousins. Nothing is worse than listening to her complaining mum about the recently passed away father.
Inexpensive Kvass, a traditional Ukrainian soft drink, started warming up on the beach, even placed with an ice pack. Sunscreen didn’t seem to work on this hottest day at the Black Sea. “Did we grab the playing cards?” Anna asked Irina. “Sure we did, silly,” Irina replied. The popularity of playing cards undeniably proved the effectiveness of time wasters. “You won again,” Irina said in frustration and blushed. Olga was laughing when looking at two cousins to compete over the Queen beating the King. Suddenly, the young ladies heard remotely male voices.
They were juvenile and offbeat. “We have company,” Anna said anxiously. “Ah, Anna, they’re just fooling around,” Irina added. Her expertise in boyfriend and girlfriend theory assured Anna and Olga of Irina’s maturity. Irina always told stories passionately of her new date begging to go out when standing under the half-broken fence and expecting to be told off by grandma. The group of three young men was distractedly moving forward along the lonely beach. Anna’s first instinct was to run away. “Just hold on, everything will be all right,” her inner voice whispered.
“Hello, pretties, are you getting a tan?” One of the men asked. Irina invited them to join the card game. Olga pretended shyness and then disappeared into the sea for a swim. The brightness of the sun and the heat blunted the cousins’ clear thinking. The brain, much like the ice-cream purchased at the train kiosk two hours ago, kept melting down. Hence, Anna’s tension about the three men’s intentions on the empty beach disappeared for a moment. Irina being in charge and flirty, picked up scores in the card game when playing with Ivan. His traditional Ukrainian name, shaggy clothing revealed the village background.
Poor education and low intelligence were relevant here and gave Anna thoughts of run in’s with the police a common theme. One of his companions, Alex, glanced impurely at Anna and back to Olga, enjoying the sea. “Hey, Irina, see those sprouted reeds, can we hide there?” Ivan asked. Irina quietly stood up, looked fearlessly at Anna, and left with Ivan. Anna’s knees trembled a bit. Awareness of stories about Bad boys, possibly stealing her sister, was not original. Just turn on the TV, and read news about shocking people’s disappearance. “It exists, but not here, and not today,” Anna thought.
Alex and the third friend pointed out on a boat, parked at the little bridge. “So, sister, fancy a boat ride? Alex pleaded sinfully. “No, I have to wait for Irina and Olga”, Anna replied with fake confidence. “Come on. It will be fun!” The third fellow exclaimed. The flight instinct was a proven theory. When we feel threatened, we run or attack. The rejection made the fellas vanish. Then, silence. Olga just returned, enough of swimming. “But where is Irina?” Anna was wondering.
It was now sunset on the Black Sea. The last train was leaving in 20 minutes. After two hours of intense search for Irina, Olga packed her bags and headed to train station without any hesitation. So much for a real friendship! Anna thought and couldn’t hold on to tears. Is Irina alive? What happened to my cousin? Why did she leave me behind? Cousins should keep loyalty to youngest!
Anna arrived back home alone, the stepdad of Irina furiously shouted at mum. “It’s your entire fault, Elena! See results of your frivolous parenting; Irina will be raped, possibly beaten and killed”! Anna’s first thought was to call the police but 48 hours’ notice rule was universal. The waiting time had never been so long. That night, Anna cried her eyes out. The feeling of betrayal and guilt didn’t let her go. Anna wished this nightmare to be over. Irina, please, come back home! Elena took some calming pills; her lampshade stayed on all night. Stepdad was ready to head over to the beach and start searching. “Why didn’t they abduct me?” Anna was groaning all night.
The first signs of sunrise blissfully scattered over a holiday house, but all the family saw was darkness and uncertainty of 17 year’s old disappearance. Grandma yelled loudly at Anna to go and get some bread first thing in the morning. Never argue with grandparents!
Irina was idyllically sleeping on the couch when Anna returned with a loaf of cheap Ukrainian bread. They hugged tightly, and tears started pouring down. It was the happiest moment of relief, anger, and hope that they both fell asleep and just woke up out of the nightmare.
“They would do that to you too, Anna, but I asked them not to, I tried to protect my little cousin” Irina murmured convincingly.
And, the next morning Ivan securely showed up at the half-broken gate asking for Irina.
The summer will never be the same, the trust, broken, but the love between the cousins remains.
Special Thanks to:
The founder of Australian Business UbizBlog
Facebook: Australian Business story with UBizBlo
Be sure to check out her blog. It is amazing!