Having resigned from her job, Kate felt relieved contradictorily. Not that she had another job ready but there was an inexplicable anxiety which she had gotten rid off, with her resignation. She woke up late, after a relaxed sleep that she had caught up on in a really long time. She felt the tranquility of this new morning when there was no call from her boss telling her what all is expected out of her for the day. No work, no rushing to the office, no schedule as such. Nothing. What she did have now, was all of herself. The entire day unplanned focused on her own self. She felt lost. But the day threw her into thoughts of how much of herself she had missed in so many years. She was a bachelor living in an apartment on rent. She had been working ever since she got graduated telling herself that "A vacation is for those weak-hearted folks" animating it to the limit that made her feel she can never give up working, no matter how hard life gets. It had been 7 years of work non stop, ever since. Her boss had been very good to her promoting her and on the whole valuing her work, crediting the good standing of the company to Kate's hard work. Her boss was shocked when Kate walked up to to her one day telling her that she wanted to resign. Kate was also offered a partnership in the company but such a great offer yet couldn't change how empty Kate felt. It was a definite seismic shift.
She sat down with her oat meal and newspaper in her hand, as she opened the first page and read "Offer 7600$, all the way, for a period of 6 days 5 nights". Such buggers, I tell you. She thought.
'What if its true? Forget it, I'd rather go to the spa today spend sometime with myself, pamper myself and then I'll think'
She met her girlfriend over for some drinks the same night, after returning from the spa.
"What are you thinking of now? Opening your own company, is it? I must admit that you gave your blood and soul to Thatchers, and when you decided to throw it away, I was really shocked! I thought maybe you were doing this deliberately so that your boss could offer you a partnership, which weeelll, she could've offered to you last year, but, nonetheless....she has right?"
"Nata, I really don't feel like working anymore. It's as if, you know, I feel the need to give that same amount of time to myself, not another company or boss or anyone. I have never felt this way before...I can't explain", she said as she walked towards the window to open it.
The light breeze and moonlight made her feel better as she gazed at the tree right across her building. A car drove by smoothly, but her eyes remained fixed on that tree. "You see that tree? I feel my life kind of resembling the fixed nature of that tree. It has a very good foundation, very strong and stable but my mind is directing me elsewhere. I don't want to be like that tree..." Her voice dragged a bit at the end. Natalia thought maybe it was the effect of the drinks that had thrown her into this mode. Maybe, she would get back to her job soon enough but she had never heard Kate complain about her boss or anything of the sort. In fact, in some ways she felt kind of jealous with the liberty Kate's boss had given her in making core decisions for the company long before she would even have offered her partnership. Her resignation however, seemed out of the blue.
"Hey Hey hey, Good morning sleepy head!" Natalia heard Kate's voice all excited and cheered up, as she expected Kate to have come back to normal, maybe wanting to get back to her job. But was in for another surprise. " I have thought of going on a vacation. I think I need a break. A break from thinking, a different surrounding where people don't know me, where I get to spending time on some of my hobbies that I've never pursued before. I have thought of taking up this offer. Look", she turned to the page and threw the paper to a distance within Nata's reach. "That's so cool! but sorry I won't be able to accompany you! Like you know, I just started interning in that pla..."
" Hey, not that. Look at the offer below. The one that says 7000$ something..."
Natalia looked a little more carefully. Her Russian features grew even more evident with the expression she had. It was a bit of excitement, a little of worry, a bit of confusion and a bit of happiness."
"Okay, your beautiful face says it all, look you don't need to be scared, I've been on solo trips before. I can manage. I'm excited and I want to go for this, I will be paying up today. It seems unreal that they're charging so less...."
"I'm not too sure about the price, k"
" Yeah I understood your concern, but I'd rather pay up before its too late. The last date is today."
"Kay, but just be careful. Tristan d'cunha sounds kind of deserted, fun but scary. And doing this alone....? I don't..."
"Hey look, please, I just want to go and this place sounds exciting it is a specific island that is owned by the Britishers but is located somewhere in the South Atlantic Ocean. You know I have never been on a vacation of this sort before, work trips were different. They were sponsored by the company and all arrangements made by the parties involved, very planned and formal. But this, this seems adventurous."
"K, just be careful okay." Natalia wanted her to check the exact price of the accommodations and all, on phone. The written price for travelling to a remote island and living there seemed skeptical but probably off season rates were kind of different. You never know, she thought.
Kate called the team before booking the trip and confirmed it all. She was due to fly to Louisiana from Oregon and then she was booked on a ship to Tristan. She was really excited. It was as though, she was going for some life changing experience. She went for buying some clothes and accessories she would need for that trip, the same day she booked the trip. She couldn't quite think of what she was, only a month ago, running back and forth between her own cabin and her boss' carrying files of important papers, speaking to colleagues. Her life had taken a 360 degree turn as she wanted to explore the corners of the world. Her mind had broken its restrictions altogether. It no longer wanted to keep her grounded like the tree.
She arrived at the airport about two hours earlier, checking in with Mr. Christian who was heading the travel team to Tristan. He confirmed everything and informed her to wait at the airport after landing. He said his team was expected to come together at around 4 pm as they were waiting for everyone to reach the airport before the bus would arrive and chauffeur the group to the port. Her flight was right on time as she landed and made her way to the arrival section. She yet had around 30-35 minutes before she could reach the point where Christian had called her. She decided to go have something to eat. She made her way to the The coffee Bean lounge with her luggage. All the tables were full. Her eyes did catch one couch based table which was occupied by a man who was reading something.
"Hey, do you mind if I sit here?"
He looked up, his blue eyes showing a greenish tinge in them. He smiled and agreed, pulling his luggage towards himself, making space for her. She got herself an eclair and some coffee. He was engrossed in his book, by now. She tried to reach to her phone which instead of pulling it, she instead ended up pushing it off the edge and it fell down towards the man's luggage. The man got distracted. He reached down to get her phone and gave it to her.
" I'm so sorry, I didn't do it on purpose. I was trying to save my coffee and..."
"Oh don't mind, it happens," this time his eye colour showed a purely sky blue shade. She observed his eyes very closely and felt more attracted. Just then, the phone rang. It was Christian. The man read the name as he handed out the phone to her. He looked back into his phone and the time read 3.45pm, with a missed call. He used to keep his phone on silent almost always while reading. And it was no different this time. He called back Christian but the phone line seemed busy.
"Ohh, I didn't expect it, I'm sorry I just bought myself a little something to eat before we would get on the ship, can you please hold the team for 5 minutes, I'll be there." she said in a hurried voice. As she cut the call, she looked back towards her own luggage and planned how she would carry so many things in her hand. She spotted a ticket kept on the table right next to her coffee, it was the pass that the travel team had issued to be shown before entry into a ship.
"Are you going to Tristan d'Cunha?"
The man looked confused as he read something on his phone. The name Christian on her phone seemed so much more familiar now.
"Yeah, I think this means the same Christian was calling me too, has he asked us to assemble near the gate X? he said in a deep voice.
" Ok cool, My name is George by the way and I flew in from Massachusetts. And you are?" His smile enhanced his facial features. He seemed like a Greek God pleased with the well being of his people.
"Kate. I flew in from Oregon and I'm really excited for this trip. I've never done anything of this sort before and this seems really adventurous! " He noticed the change in her facial expressions as she talked. He observed carefully.
They met Christian. Even though Christian seemed to be in a perplexed state, his authoritative tone wasn't. Being an army veteran, he was in complete control of his team. "Looks like we are exactly on track. We have a booking of 10 rooms, as decided and we're around 29 of us, right, now if everyone's ready, can we leave?
Every room was going to be shared by small families of two or three people each, except for Kate and George. They had been put in one room, which they had to share and weren't informed separately, even though they had accepted the terms and conditions of the package. After all, they had paid half the charge right before the deadline.
Everyone seemed to be all cheerful and accepting of every fact. They were transferred to a bus which drove them to the port from where they entered the ship. As Kate made her way into the cruise liner, she was really impressed by how much she got in such little money that she had paid. She felt very grateful, as she walked through the palatial hallways onto the passage that led her on to the deck. She spent around half an hour thinking of how there was a transformation in her that took her away from the job, she once dreaded to leave and her past in general. As she stared into the blue waters, her mind felt peaceful. She could see through crystal clear waters and track movements of little fishes. Her thought process went all the more deeper.
"Hey, Kate! What are you up to? Wanna go grab some snacks?"
said a voice, as she looked up, she saw the beautiful greenish tinge in his eyes re-appear with sun's reflection. She found it difficult to look away.
"Yeah, but after sometime, I have to go freshen up first. I'll join you in a bit."
She went down the path that she had come from and reached the corridors, reading the boards pointing her towards the rooms. Her luggage was kept inside her room by the porter. However, she spotted one more set of luggage right next to hers. She seemed to have seen it somewhere before. The ticket resembled hers. Right then it struck her that this luggage belonged to George. She called up Christian immediately, informing him about the mistake made by the porter.
"Kate, this is not a mistake. I checked the list of the rooms before coming." , he said in a polite tone.
" But Mr. Christian, I wasn't told that I would have to share my room with anyone. Had I been told, I would've not selected this package. I am not used to this."
"Kate, I'm sorry but I think there may have been a mistake from your side. Your booking shows the amount you paid and double of that is what one room costs. The printed clause below the price clearly shows that you agreed to share the room with someone if you're paying that cost. It is understood that you were fine with it. I don't think I can change anything right now. There are other families that definitely won't agree to having you invade their family time nor exchange with you. "
"Do I see a problem here? Oh hi Kate, I didn't know you were sharing a room with me!" exclaimed an excited George.
"Nor did I, apparently, Gosh. I don't know. I uh..." She fumbled. She had to accept her mistake. Her gut feeling did make her feel odd about the prices but but she had completely forgotten to ask Christian about the accomodation and as it turned out, she had also agreed to ticking some box before hurrying to pay up before the deadline. This was the tick box that she had quickly passed without reading. She apologized to Christian and accepted the terms in the reservation. Christian made a move outside.
" Hey, you seem lost. Don't worry, I won't trouble you much." , there was a grin on his face. His eyes had grown back blue.
She had never shared an apartment in with anyone before, leave alone a room. It seemed like she had to, now. She smiled back at him but in a confused manner. Even though she felt attracted to him, she felt odd now. Could she trust this guy? After all the best looking people were some very nicely disguised dupes too. Her understanding was based on her narrow experience in people. restricted further by the job she did. Although she did go for her work trips, they were never so unplanned.
She understood the meaning of the tree and the fishes and recognized the pros and cons of each of them. She recognized that she had to step out of her comfort zone and meet new people. She had for the first time stepped out of her bubble. She was bound to feel weird. But George made that transition a little easier, partly because she was attracted to him and partly because he too felt a little swayed by her. As they spent more time, she could trust him a little more. She became carefree. She felt great.
The trip to Tristan was memorable and it helped her find herself back. She also found a friend and a love interest in George. She realized that she had ticked the box correctly after trusting in herself.