All at Sea

All at Sea
The cruise liner lurched into Phuket port. I roused myself from the inertia that was, clearly, becoming the most enjoyable part of this cruise. It was only the lure of Phuket, white water rafting and getting deep into the forests of Thailand on an elephant safari that made me step out of my cabin.
 A middle-aged man, dressed in white cotton casuals stepped out of the adjacent cabin, calling out a cheerful "come on girls".
He looked at me and smiled.
"So, are you on the elephant safari excursion or on the James Bond Island trip?" he asked.
"The elephant safari one” I answered.
"Great, we are on that too", he said in a happy-to-be-going-with-you voice.
Suddenly there was a loud noise - quite like a clap of thunder.
A thin and extremely fashionable lady stepped out of the same cabin followed by a fourteen year old girl who looked sullen, belligerent and very much like the man who was with us.
"Do you not have any concept of time at all, Sania?"
The lady bit each word of the question glaring at the girl.
 "I do not want to come", replied Sania, biting each word with too, but looking at the ground as she spoke.
The man looked at the lady angrily and then turned to me.
"Take your time" I said cheerfully and began to walk ahead.
However, very soon, they were in step with me.
"We are not late Teresa" said the man in a placatory voice as he threw an arm over the shoulders of Sania who looked mutinous and tearful.
"Yes, we are!" barked Teresa as we turned the corridor of the ship and headed towards a crowd of people who were waiting for the lift that would take us all to the deck.
"They had asked us to assemble at nine o'clock. It is nine fifteen now."
The man fell behind a step so that he could put some distance between them and me but Teresa had raised her voice by several decibels and I could hear her clearly above the din of the other travellers on the cruise.
 "This is all because of you, Carl. You have spoilt her. She is disorganized, rude and stupid."
I tried to get a look at Teresa through the corner of my eyes. She reminded me of Cruella de Vil.
The lift stopped at our floor and the crowd parted to make way to those coming out. Sania held on to Carl and moved away from Teresa.
"Come here" growled Teresa. She stretched across and pulled Sania to her, completely oblivious to the lady who was stepping out of the lift, balancing a rowdy toddler and a baby bag. Sania did not resist.
Carl apologised to the lady and stepped back to let her pass. Teresa launched into another tirade as we trooped into the lift.
Carl said "alright let's move on!"
Neither Teresa nor Sania responded. Sania shook off Teresa's hand and edged towards a corner. Teresa glared at her and then opened her mouth to say something to Carl who pre-empted it by turning towards me.
 "So, where are you from? We are from Brisbane."
Then, without waiting for an answer, he put his hand out to the Japanese couple standing near us, bowed down from the waist and said “konnichiwa."
The Japanese couple smiled, nodded and then looked at Teresa and Sania with open curiosity.
The lift stopped. We got out and stepped on to the deck. As we neared the gangplank, Sania stopped.
"Come on" snapped Teresa. Now, she reminded me of a trainer cracking his whip at his lion.
Carl put his hand on Sania's elbow and moved closer to her. Sania looked at Teresa, raised her head, to just that fraction of an inch and said clearly, in a voice that left no room for a response, "I will not. I will not. Get lost!"
She then looked at Carl, a little scared and a little defiant. "Dad, may I have the key please."
Carl looked at her affectionately, kissed her cheek, took the key from his pocket and gave it to her. "Here you go kid. “Lucky you!"
Sania took the key, hugged Carl, turned on her heels and walked back into the lobby, punching the air with her fist.


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