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Unrequited

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“Honey! Wake up! We’re really late; my alarm didn’t go off!” I groaned and rolled over, yanking my pillow over my head. “Charlotte!”, mum shrieked from the kitchen, “By late I mean we’re meant to be on an aeroplane in exactly 63 minutes and you’re barely finished packing!”

With a jolt I realised exactly what day it was. I scrambled out of bed, yanking off the oversized tshirt that served as my pyjamas. “Charlotte-”

“I’m up, I’m up!”

I pulled on a pair of jeans, a plain long sleeved shirt and a cable knit cardigan that had been left folded neatly on the end of my bed - trust my mother to be so organised she’d had time to fold my clothes for the next day. I sprinted to the bathroom and pulled my hair up into a ponytail, still too asleep to care about what it looked like. 

We arrived at the airport just in time, dashing through check-ins and customs until we dropped into our business class plane seats, totally out of breath. ‘Made it’, Mum said with a chuckle. ‘What would you have done if we’d missed it?’, I said grinning. Mum groaned and put her hands over her face. ‘Don’t say that honey’.

The flight from Melbourne to London (with a stopover in Singapore) seemed impossibly long. I sat watching movies while Mum tapped away on her laptop, scribbled tiny notes in her diary and then got out her iPad and started sorting through set lists and arena seating plans. She never stopped working. Although, before you make any assumptions, she was never the type to put her work before me. Mum spent time with me as much as she could and I never blamed her if she had to ditch me for the odd unscheduled meeting; I knew she felt guilty at times like that, but I understood. Mum had worked in a few different aspects of the music industry but for the next three months she was working as a tour manager. She had managed tours before but I’d never come with her. I’d always been left at home during mum’s work trips - this time it was unavoidable. Nana was too frail to properly look after me for such a length of time anymore and my aunty and cousins had gone on a holiday for the Christmas break.

I was ecstatic to be spending my Christmas holidays in Britain and Ireland, although my school wasn’t too happy about me taking so much time off in addition to the holidays. Mum said we’d sort that out when we got home. ‘Traveling teaches you twice as much as sitting in a classroom will’, she kept repeating. This is why I love my mum so much...

Mum was managing the tour of a British boy band named One Direction. I honestly didn’t know very much about them except for the fact that their angelic good looks induced teenage girls into hyperactive screaming fits. Reminded me of my Justin Bieber phase. I was familiar with the boys’ journey through X Factor and I knew them all by name but somehow I didn’t think meeting them would reduce me to squeals. Besides, I doubted they’d appreciate their tour manager bringing a deluded fan girl along with her.

***

I knew it was going to be cold in London, but when we stepped out of the airport, dragging our suitcases behind us, I wondered if we’d caught the wrong plane and ended up in Antarctica. It never got this cold in Melbourne and my wardrobe was definitely not prepared for this sort of weather. This of course left me with the promising prospect of a shopping spree with Mum. We followed the man who was to drive us to our hotel and he chuckled as we scrambled to put our coats and hats on, pulling our collars up to keep the wind out. “Better get used to it, ladies! It only gets worse from here!”

Mum raised her eyebrows at me as she hopped into the front seat. The sky was grey but it did nothing to darken the beauty of the city. I stared out the window in awe at the buildings rushing past me, so relieved that I was finally here.

We stepped into the foyer of our hotel after having our bags taken by doormen and met the man who was managing the boys from One Direction. “Sam! How are you!”, Mum said as the tall dark haired man strode over to us. He kissed my mum on both cheeks. “Terri, it’s been a while! I’m fine thanks, love. And you must be Charlotte! It’s lovely to finally meet you,” he chortled, shaking my hand. “You too,” I said politely. Sam had worked with my mum a lot over the years and I’d heard so much about him I felt like I knew him already. “How was your flight?” asked Sam. 

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