‘You will need your computer and your school stuff,’ Mrs Bayliss said, looking over the top of her glasses at Taya. ‘Dad said we’d be gone for two weeks, so I am packing for at least a month.’
Normally Taya would have found that funny. Her father’s estimation of time was a family joke. At that moment, however, it just made her more annoyed. She kicked the side of the couch with the back of her foot.
‘Why can’t he just go by himself? We don’t need to be there. He doesn’t need us to help him. He could just go, do the research and come home when he is done. Why does he have to drag us along?’
‘Drag? When have we ever dragged you anywhere, Miss Cranky-pants? Wherever we’ve gone, you’ve had a great time - adventures even. I cannot believe you just said that.” Mrs Bayliss sent Taya a sharp look. ‘Where is this attitude coming from, might I ask?’
Taya kicked the couch again. She wasn’t sure where the annoyance was coming from. She just knew she didn’t want to go. Her mind was racing. Something is wrong. If we stay at home, everything will be okay. I shouldn’t be going anywhere.
‘I don’t want to go away again. My friends are here. I just want to be like everyone else and stay in one place,’ she said without looking at her mother.
‘It’s only for two weeks. That’s not so bad.’
‘Yeah, and in that two weeks I’ll miss Bethany’s birthday party. It’s a disco bowling party and we were all going to wear costumes…and Mia’s school concert is next week, so I’ll miss that too…and, now, Chris is hurt. I won’t be able to help him if he needs anything. I don’t want to go, Mum!’
Mrs Bayliss sighed. ‘Taya, we’re a family and we do things together. If your father has to go, and you know he only goes when there is a major problem somewhere, then we go with him. I’m sorry about your party plans, but we are going away and that is that!’ She returned to her packing.
Taya stood up and walked to her bedroom door. ‘Right. Mention a bird in trouble and Dad is off like Superman to the rescue. It’s just too bad about the rest of us, isn’t it?’ she snapped before slamming the door behind her.
Parents! This happens all the time. They never talk to me about their plans. They make all the decisions and don’t even bother to tell me until we’re practically out the door. I’m eleven years old, not a baby. I should get a say in what is happening.
Taya continued to fume about the coming trip as she gathered her school equipment together. Visions of her father, complete with cape and superhero outfit, swooping down to scoop up distressed birds whirled around in her imagination.
Birdman Bayliss to the rescue! Hero of the bird kingdom! Birdnappers beware! Drop that nest! Unhand those chicks!
She pulled a face and thought about the angry feelings she was having. Her mother was right. She usually had a great time when the family went off on one of her father’s research trips. So why was the prospect of this trip bothering her so much? Sure, she would miss her friends, but, as an only child, she was used to finding things to do by herself. She was, according to her mother, naturally inquisitive, so she found poking around new places very interesting. But this time she was annoyed and worried. It was all very confusing.
She moved over to stand at the window and then looked out into the night. The street-lamps created pools of light along the laneway behind the building. Taya could see a man leaning against the lamppost. She didn’t recognize him. He was short and stocky with dark hair and he was smoking. The cigarette smoke spiralled upwards in the cool air. She knew everyone who lived in the apartment block, and he certainly was not one of the residents. Taya wrinkled her nose as she watched him.
Who are you? What are you doing?
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