Holiday Sad Teens & Young Adult

Tears rolled down Lara’s face as she approached her mother in the dining room. Her mother, Liz, sat on the sofa near the air conditioner outlet, her favorite place. The air conditioner kept the place warm in winter and cool in summer. The evenings had chilled down lately, making this a comfortable place to sit and do mending after dinner. 

“Mum, are you going to Fiji again?” Lara had overheard her parents talking about taking another trip.

They seemed to do this every second year and always took Marie, the youngest, with them. This would be their third time. Being seven years older, Lara always stayed behind with her three older siblings. Lara attended the local Primary School at this stage, whereas little Marie was still a preschooler.

“I know how you feel, Lara. Indeed, we can’t afford to take you, but you didn’t hear the rest of the conversation . . . I have saved several thousand in a different account and will use that to pay your fare. When your dad bought me my new Suzuki Front car many years ago, he sold my Mini and let me keep the money. You are coming this time.”

“Oh, Mum, I don’t know what to say. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She bent over and hugged her mum, her tears of joy following the ones of grief.

“I know you think you are forgotten in this family, with Marie being the baby and the older three demanding the rest of the attention. I want you to come. Marie will love having you along as well.”

It was well-known that her father doted on Marie, his youngest daughter. Lara had always been the quiet, placid one. Mum didn’t have favorites, even though Lara’s next sister up, Carrie, often felt justified being jealous and regularly spieled so-called evidence. This notable inclusion in the trip to Fiji may be interpreted as such an occasion. The rest of the family hadn’t noticed that Lara had humbly relinquished her position as the youngest once Marie had been born. She had melted into the background without complaining. Lara most resembled her mother out of all four girls. Blond pixie cut, deep brown eyes, and cute dimples. Totally photogenic too. The family dentist, whose hobby was photography, had taken photos of her, which had been enlarged and framed. He also photographed Marie as a toddler. The older girls had received dental treatment, but the younger two were touted as perfect for photography.

Lara excitedly told her school friends about the upcoming Fijian holiday. Her teacher asked her to write a daily diary and promised the class a lesson about Fiji so that Lara could share her experiences. Shy Lara blushed but said she would.

That evening, she asked her mother to buy her a notebook so she could write a diary about their holiday. Her mother bought them all some extra T-shirts and shorts for their trip. “It’s sunny and sweltering every day. You’ll need togs for the beach and the swimming pool. You have enough sundresses but won’t want to wear too much. Jandals (flip-flops) and sandals will be all you need. It’s too hot to wear shoes. And pack your sun hat and sunglasses. Take a cardi and wear a pair of longs when we go but you probably won’t need them when we are there. Once off the plane, it’ll feel like walking into a sauna.”

Lara imagined a person in a bright floral shirt, wearing a straw hat, sunglasses, and sandals, in an advertisement for a Pacific Island vacation. She made a mental note to write this information in her diary.

As usual, Carrie had much to say about her own exclusion. ‘Not fair’ and ‘mean’ are her oft-repeated expressions. 

“We’d never want to sell you in Dad’s record shop,” said her older sister, Lynley. “You’re like a scratched disk that repeats the worst lines over and over. Why should you go and not me?”

Their father owned a business selling records, cassette tapes, TVs, stereo systems, and heaps of other electronic equipment. He called it “Ralph Ogden’s Disc Den,” and he had become well known for his radio advertisement slogan, “If anyone has a larger collection of cassette tapes, I’ll eat my hat!” Followed by the sounds of loud munching.

The downside of having a father with this kind of business is that Lynley and their brother Peter worked there on Friday nights after school and during the weeks of their holidays. Lynley didn’t like working Friday nights. It’s very dull, sitting out the back of the store, putting price and advertising stickers on stock, surrounded by never-ending piles of new records. She had fallen down a crevasse with walls of records stacked all around her. Alternatively, she volunteered to stay home and do the family’s weekly ironing. It was worth it to watch her favorite TV shows as she worked. After all, females can multi-task, and she proved she could iron very well. ‘Do or die,’ as far as she was concerned.

“You have nothing to complain about,” she said to Carrie. “When work is divvied out, you already have a holiday!”

This story, however, is about Lara’s first OE.

They left on Friday, April 12, 1974. Both girls fidgeted with excitement, especially Lara, who had never been on a plane. She had a kaleidoscope of butterflies in her stomach. 

An older family friend moved in to care for the three older children. The extra staff at the record shop had worked there for a long while and could care for the business. Four family members planned to be away for just over one week.

On the flight to Fiji, Lara wrote her diary. She wrote about why she was writing it, what they had packed, and her experience on the aircraft.

As they exited the plane after their flight, a hot waft of air assailed them. From the cool air conditioning into a warmer drawer. Thank goodness they came at a cooler time of year.

Diary Entries

Friday, April 12, 1974

We drove a rental car to our accommodation. Beach Escape Resort is a ten-minute walk from Wailoaloa Beach. First, we unpacked. We walked to the beach after dinner at the resort’s restaurant to see the sunset. Marie and I found excellent shells to bring back. The sunset was orange and pink and looked pretty. It was my first time watching a sunset from a beach with palm trees. I can’t believe I’m in Fiji.

Our accommodation has a small bedroom with two single beds. Mum and Dad sleep in the living area on the fold-out sofa. We share a bathroom. There is a neat thing in there. The shower head is for water massaging. Marie and I had fun washing and massaging each other. Before we went to bed, we talked about the next day. Tomorrow will be a market day, and we will buy lots of fruit to eat and other things.

Saturday 13th 

I chose a banana, toast, and fruit juice for breakfast. Afterward, we drove to the huge Namaka Market near the airport. It sold all kinds of vegetables and fruit, and a different part sold fish. It is different from a Supermarket. Back at the resort, we tried lots of fruit. We had a bag of boiled ivi (chestnuts), breadfruit, small Fijian pineapples, passionfruit, and bananas. They tasted different and delicious.

In the afternoon, Mum, Maria, and I went to the beach to play and relax. The water was so warm. Dad drove into Nadi to look around. Tomorrow is a sightseeing day.


That evening, after Marie was asleep in bed, Lara lay awake and heard her parents arguing in the next room. There had been a few disagreements between them at home, mainly Dad being unreasonable at times and picking on the two oldest, who, as teenagers, talked back to him. He still believed children should be seen and not heard. The argument here was Mum objecting to Dad spending money on the items bought for his shop. He planned to send them back home, so he didn’t have them in his luggage. Her mother refused to help him pack them. She didn’t think it was right and told him they were there for a break.


Sunday 14th

We saw the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple and a nearby Fijian village. I asked Dad to come with us in case he planned to shop. But Sunday, he wanted to be with us, he said. We wore sarong skirts tied around us to cover our legs. The Hindu temple is painted in beautiful colors. It is the biggest one in the Southern Hemisphere, built in an Indian style. Many Indians live in Fiji. They first came to Fiji to work on the sugar cane plantations.

At the Fijian village, we saw dark-skinned villagers in grass skirts, and the mainly wooden houses had big thatched rooves. We don’t have rooves like this back home. Mum and Dad tried their traditional kava drink. They didn’t like it. We stayed there, ate Fijian food, and watched the dancing before returning to the resort. There were octopi, seaweed, and fish dishes in coconut milk, and a root vegetable called taro. Instead of potatoes, we had a starchy Fijian banana dish. We were offered different kinds of fruit for dessert.

Monday 15th

Dad dropped us off at the Sabeto Mud Pools while he went to Nadi. The three of us wallowed in the mud. This is what a pig must feel like. They love being in mud. I played pigs with my sister Marie. But I did like the clean feeling after a shower. We also dipped in some hot springs. We stayed there for lunch and shopped for souvenirs for everyone at home. For dinner that night, Dad took us to a Thai restaurant. Marie and I shared a mild Thai chicken dish. 


That evening, Lara heard her parents have another disagreement. Dad had sent parcels of items for the shop to a friend back home for him to hold onto. He also bought more. He enjoyed haggling to get the best prices.


Tuesday 16th

We all went on a tall ship to the small Island of Tivua. First, we saw another kava welcoming ceremony. Afterward, we explored the waters around the island in a glass-bottomed boat. Turtles swam and played in the ocean. After a barbecue lunch, we went out in a canoe. Then, Mum went snorkeling while Dad watched us play on the beach. We ate fruit for dinner at the resort as we were full of barbecue food. Tomorrow, Wednesday, Mum wants to do the laundry, and then we will go to the beach. Dad wants to go to Nadi.


Wednesday evening, Lara once more heard her parents arguing. This time, Mum said that as she spent her money on Lara’s trip, and Dad thought he could just spend and spend on things to sell in the shop, it was about time he bought her a nice ring. He said he would, but only if she helped him pack the electronic goodies. Mum totally refused but still demanded a ring. She said it didn’t seem right to buy cheap things to sell at home. 


Thursday 18th

Mum chose a beautiful ring. It is gold, and the top of it is a half-sphere shape with twinkling little rubies set in it, like stars. At the produce market, we stocked up on fruit and went to a nearby Handicraft Market. Dad sent some parcels he had packed. We had lunch out at a cafe selling Asian food. We ate savory rice with vegetables and meat. 

Later, we ate fruit and some more ivi (chestnuts) on the beach and watched the sunset. Tomorrow, we will go to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Mum wants to see the orchids, and we kids want to have fun at the Dino Adventure Park and swim in the river.


Lara heard another disagreement between her parents. Her Dad really wanted Mum’s help organizing the last parcels to send back home. She still refused to help him but thanked him very much for her ring. It proved he thought of her and not just his business.


Friday 19th

Dad sent the last parcels, and we had a fun day at the Garden. We walked among native trees. There are over 200 varieties of orchids on the plantation. Mum loves orchids. The Dino Park was great fun, but the dinosaurs aren’t real. We took our togs to swim in the river. There is a lovely waterfall there. The Sleeping Giant is the name of a mountain. It doesn’t look like a sleeping giant. We ate dinner at the resort restaurant.

Saturday 20th.

We started packing because tomorrow we are flying home. It rained in the morning, but we walked to the beach in the afternoon and had a picnic lunch. I hunted for some more shells, and we swam and built sandcastles. Mum and Dad sunbathed while they watched us.

We flew home on Sunday, the 21st. I wanted to stay longer in Fiji, but Dad said he had to go back to work, and I had school. I will tell my class about the exciting place I visited for the first time, Fiji.


A few cross words went from mother to father about his inability to leave his business at home.

It took Ralph, Lara’s father, a few weeks to collect together, unpack, sort, and price all the items for his shop. There were excellent little radios, novelty clock radios, and portable cassette tape players galore. Ralph proudly informed the family that if they all sold, he would make one hundred percent profit. 

All these treats made a lovely display on the shelves in the shop. The children complained that none had been gifted to them even though they had each received a personally named parcel with a special electronic device inside.

It took only two weeks for the police to seize all the stock imported without a license. Someone had informed on Ralph. He told the truth to his credit once he was caught and prosecuted and didn’t involve Liz, his wife. Lara’s mother had no sympathy for him. The family were in shock.

Ralph sat the children down one evening to reassure them of how they would cope due to what he had tried and failed to get away with.

“Children, I let greed get the better of me, and I don’t want any of you to follow my terrible example. I am very sorry. I will ensure that none of you suffers financially because of all the money I have to repay for what I’ve done. I’m sorry, but it will become public knowledge. I hope it doesn’t affect you too much.”

The confession went over Marie’s head. Lara looked at her mother.

“Mum, why didn’t you tell Dad not to do it. You weren’t happy with him.”

“I felt uncomfortable and didn’t help him, but he seemed to think his actions were ok.”

The three older children, Carrie, Pater, and Lynley, were teased and bullied at school about the crime their father had committed.

Lara and Carrie talked about it. Carrie read the diary and, despite being envious of Lara, had to agree that the so-called holiday had been a disastrous business trip for their father, had made their mother unhappy, and had affected the family badly.

Lynley, the rational one, said, “Crime never pays. I don’t think Dad thought about the consequences. We should never be greedy for money. I’m just sorry we couldn’t keep the presents that were sent to us, that the police took away. Such a shame. Dad needn't have missed out on some of those fun things with Mum, Marie, and you, Lara. I don’t think there will be any more Fiji trips for any of us. It’s so embarrassing. I guess we now know what it's like to be infamous.” 

The End

April 26, 2024 13:41

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Kristi Gott
05:39 May 01, 2024

Thank you for taking us on a trip to Fiji in this story! The character interactions were complex and realistic. Very well done! An immersive story.


21:36 May 01, 2024

Thanks, Kristi.


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Helen A Smith
12:31 Apr 28, 2024

Well Kaitlyn, you got me immersed in this beautiful setting. The food sounded most enticing. I thought the breaks between the narration and Lara’s diary entries worked well. For me were two worlds here, the real one and the fantasy one. The conflict of interests played out between husband and wife. Holidays can be like a taste of paradise but then you have to come home. The main issue here seemed to be that the father wasn’t able to let business go and concentrate on precious family time, much to his wife’s consternation. There was a hu...


05:27 Apr 29, 2024

Thanks, Helen. When I thought of this story to fit the prompt it had to be through the eyes of someone going for the first time. I also enjoy writing stories with complex family dynamics and different angles. The ideas came from a few things that have really happened. I hoped it didn't come across as boring. I read some exciting stories in Reedsy.


Helen A Smith
06:56 Apr 29, 2024

Hi Kaitlyn, There’s nothing boring about your family dynamics. I liked the scene setting too. I guess you are referring to murder and horror type stories?


00:49 Apr 30, 2024

Thanks Helen! And I have noticed two typos. One of a name - need new glasses. The other was a Grammarly multiple fixing of errors that turned the 'tail boat' into a tall boat. - again I need new glasses. Oh dear.


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Darvico Ulmeli
10:15 Apr 28, 2024

Fidji sounds lovely. Love the story. Kept me reading till the end.


05:21 Apr 29, 2024

Thanks, Darvico. I've heard it is lovely although it has become a bit commercialized. That thought about 'haggling' doesn't really describe what happens. Many in Fiji are poor and work hard. They see tourists as a way to make money. Like many resort places. But the scenery and climate make it a great place for a vacation.


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E.L. Lallak
22:06 Apr 27, 2024

Well, well, I'm a mum and my name is Liz, so that grabbed my attention:) I love that you wrote about Fiji and had never been there. I love researching and writing stories about places I've never been. I have learned so much from writing. Great story.


05:22 Apr 29, 2024

Thanks for that encouragement. All the best, yourself.


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Mary Bendickson
18:19 Apr 26, 2024

What a treat to travel to such a beautiful place. If the parents went frequently you would think they had taken the older children there when they were younger.


21:31 Apr 26, 2024

Nah. Mainly the baby on the overseas trips. There was plenty of money but the Dad was a spender, not a saver, and took chances. If you don't save for a rainy day, what do you have in the end? Debt. Hard to portray that generous, but reckless, type of character from the POV of a child going there for the first time. Thanks for reading, Mary.


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Alexis Araneta
17:50 Apr 26, 2024

Oooh, the twist about all the items being illegal was a shock ! Lovely one, Kaitlyn. Just a cute, detail-rich story. Makes me wish I could visit the South Pacific.


21:41 Apr 26, 2024

Thanks Stella. I wasn't sure how this idea would work out in line with the prompt. Haha. Never been to Fiji so spent hours researching and planning. I have heard accounts of other's experiences over there. It's probably been the hardest story to write because I've never been. Would love to go, though. Thanks for your positive feedback. It didn't seem like a 'character' rich tale, but the other prompts wouldn't have fitted this story either.


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