Chapter Twenty Nine
Normally, I would be thrilled to be on a plane. A love for travel had been etched in my DNA, for all that I’d barely been out of Stockholm until I married Zak.
Today however, I was cranky and irritable and not even being able to stare out the window of an aeroplane was able to pull me out of my mood.
I had a headache and its name was Shamima Mahomed. In all fairness to my mother in law, she had waited for two months before demanding that Zak and I make the trip back to see her. I would have felt a lot more charitable, however, had she not forced Zak to book tickets whilst on the phone with her for the next flights out.
I had absolutely no idea how he’d managed to get leave at such short notice – Zak had complained to me constantly that he was working with ‘rigid, unfeeling bastards’ and bemoaned his long hours – but somehow he had.
I tried not to let it sting that he’d been able to do it for his mother but not so that we could spend time together. Not even for my birthday which had just passed with me stuck at home and waiting until he could finally make it out of the office.
Thinking of my birthday distracted me out of my bad mood. I’d spent the vast majority of the day alone but I’d had a good time nonetheless. The house had been filled with Zak’s customary flowers and my family had indulged me with several very lovely phone calls.
Rayyan and Nana had both offered to fly in to Melbourne to spend some time with me but I’d declined, certain that Zak had something special planned and determined not to spoil the surprise.
Undaunted, the both of them – and my parents – had sent me beautiful gifts, all of which were carefully tucked into my luggage so I could enjoy them. After so many years of feeling resentful and angry at being left behind, it had been a shock to see them reaching out… like they missed me.
I’d been incredibly tempted to ignore them all, to brush them off with claims of being busy like they’d all done to me. But I wasn’t busy. I had nothing but time since the only person I knew on an entire continent was Zak and he, naturally, spent the majority of his time at work.
Taking the high road had paid off. I had only to look at the exquisite gifts I’d been given to see that. A far cry from the usual clothes, jewellery and shoes I’d always received, this year I’d ripped open the packaging on a gorgeous camera from my parents andwhat seemed like the world’s largest calligraphy set from Rayyan. But Nana had beat them all.
I’d been puzzled when I’d opened the box to find a dozen of the same nondescript black book but upon opening the first one, I’d realized just what a treasure I held. Nana had sent me every single one of the journals he’d kept while travelling.
I was half-afraid to read them for fear that the delicate paper would disintegrate. I’d promised myself that I would have them scanned over just in case – someone was meant to have come over tomorrow, in fact, to collect them. But I felt soothed that they were coming with me, almost like a child with a blankie.
I wished I’d taken one of them out for the plane ride. Not one of the more fragile first ones but perhaps the latest? It was less than a year old, going by the date stamped on the cover and I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be able to hurt it by turning the pages.
“What are you thinking about so deeply?” Zak asked grumpily, tugging on my sleeve to get my attention.
He’d asked me a question, I remembered now. I’d been so lost in thought that I’d unintentionally ignored him.
“Just our luggage,” I lied. Zak hadn’t understood the journals in the slightest. He’d been about to laugh and tease me over what seemed to him to be a shoddy gift when he saw my face and abruptly changed his tune.
I was in no mood to try and explain yet again why I loved the gifts so much, especially when his gift to me had gotten him a markedly less enthusiastic response.
I liked the diamonds, really I did. I wore the bracelet daily, just as I did my wedding ring. But I didn’t love it and Zak knew it, no matter how many times I tried to deny it. I didn’t know how else to try and convince him that I wasn’t unhappy with him for his choice and so I’d found the need to avoid mentioning gifts at all around him.
On second thought, maybe it was a good thing that Nana’s journals were in the cargo hold. We were going to be flying for hours and Zak in a bad mood was hard enough to deal with when he wasn’t confined to a metal tube in the sky.
Finally, I thought happily when we landed for the last time. It had been well over twenty four hours since we’d left the house and I was exhausted. We’d had a two hour layover in Hong Kong which had helped a bit but the sixteen hour flight had still been tiring, even for me.
The fourteen hour time difference hadn’t helped in the slightest. The sun was shining but my body was insistent that it was the middle of the night and it was time to sleep. Worse, my stomach seemed to have decided it hated planes and I’d been experiencing low-level nausea for most of the flight. I smothered a yawn and glanced over at Zak. He’d managed to sleep for most of the journey but it didn’t seem to have helped. His face was pinched and miserable.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up and I shivered.
I really needed to sleep. But first, I had to face my in laws.