You are going to Egypt. You will see the pyramids and go on a cruise on the Nile River and buy small hand-carved wooden boxes and get food poisoning. You are 14.You arrive and they stamp your virgin passport. You are tired from the flight but eager to soak in all that Egypt has to offer. Charity’s family takes you out to dinner and you order spaghetti.
The next morning, you go to the pyramids. You did not pack the right clothes. You thought the dessert was made of sand and sand meant beaches and beaches meant hot. You brought one light jacket and only one sweater that you will end up wearing every day for a week.The pyramids are more amazing than you could have imagined. You get to go in one, but then you have a panic attack and have to wait outside with the tour guide. When Charity and her parents come out, you offer to take a picture of them in front of the Sphinx. They all smile and you are not in the picture.
Charity’s dad thinks everyone should go on a camel ride. One of the camels tries to bite you, and you add Fear of Camels to your ever-growing phobia list. You pretend you are happy to wait while they go on their camel ride without you.In the evening, you get to watch a sound and light show at the base of the pyramids. It is so real it seems fake. The lights blink neon green, and a static-y taped voice with a British accent narrates the show. You take more pictures, but they do not turn out.
Christmas day arrives. Charity’s mom had thought to bring presents with her. Your parents did not tuck any surprise gifts into your suitcase, as they had paid for your airline ticket.Charity takes the thick ribbon off a glossy red box. There is a cashmere sweater inside. She puts it on. You watch her unwrap a stack of hardback books. She unwraps a smooth leather journal. You sit patiently while she opens a box filled with gourmet chocolates. She offers you one. Finally, she opens a tiny box marked Cartier and takes out a gold watch. She jumps up and hugs her parents. Charity’s mom gives you a box wrapped in pink paper. You carefully unwrap it. It’s soap.
You smile and thank her for the soap. You know that the hotel stay and the cruise are the gift. But you suddenly don’t want to be here with them and with Charity. You want to be home, far away from Charity. You are 14.MOV