“Officially the worst vacation ever,” Tess glared at her mother.
“Oh, com’mon. It’s day one,” her mother, Julia, replied while looking up from digging in her satchel for a hair tie.
“I have to share a room with him,” the moody fourteen year old pointed at a boy a few years younger. “He farts all night. And that’s just to start with what sucks about this trip.”
“Okay, then you can bunk with me,” her stepfather, Gary, countered. “I fart and snore.”
Todd, her stepbrother, chuckled. It was the first sound he had made since breakfast in their room when they were told to leave their cell phones for the day.
Tess huffed loudly. “Dad was going to take me to Cancun.”
“Well, that didn’t happen, did it?” Julia craned her neck to see the length of the queue ahead.
“Nope. Your dad ended up in jail,” Todd sneered. Tess took a swat at his arm, but he ducked behind Gary. Tess lunged for another go, but Julia caught her midsection.
“Cut it out. I’m not refereeing you two for the next week,” Julia growled, looking at Gary for backup.
Gary pulled Todd from behind him, holding him firmly on the shoulder.
“Kids, here’s the deal. We’re in London, one of the world’s greatest cities. We’ve been here all of eighteen hours, and you two are making us all miserable. If you can’t get through waiting in this line for the Eye without being civil, it’s back to the hotel for Lockdown.”
The line to the massive Ferris wheel inched ahead. “What is Lockdown?” Tess asked, all three of them looking up at Garry’s solemn face.
“It’s a new feature at Marriotts, for their Platinum Guests like me. If you have kids older than twelve, you can leave them locked in their room for up to eight hours. You just have to leave them a bit of food, and then the hotel secures the room. No getting out until we come back. And they shut off the tv and wifi. It’s perfect for kids who don’t want to enjoy a new city with their parents.”
They had reached the boarding area. Todd and Tess had gone silent, arms crossed as they shuffled toward the open doors to their capsule. “How long does this stupid ride take anyway,” Tess grumbled.
“A half hour,” Gary said handing her his guide book. “Enough time for you and Todd to find two things you want to see or do this afternoon. If you don’t figure it out by the time you get off, then Lockdown.”
Gary took Julia’s hand, and they backed off quickly from the capsule as the doors closed. Tess and Todd look at them in surprise from inside the glass carriage now rising toward the London sky.
“Lockdown?” Julia looked up at Gary. “Good one.”
“Coffee?” Gary asked.
“Sounds lovely.” They walked down the pier in search of a café.