Tina is a drama Queen.
|Word count 1358
My little sister is getting married. Maybe you’re thinking that we’ll all enjoy the occasion and it’ll be fun. Well, you don’t know my sister Tina. Nothing ever goes to plan if she has anything to do with it.
She’s been a disaster ever since she was born. My life was idyllic until I reached the age of four and this sister of mine came into my life. She’s been a pain in the neck ever since. When we were both at school, everyone, including teachers, thought I could fix any problem with Tina, that came up. Calming her anxiety, or if she was being bullied. You name it; I had to deal with it.
Mum and Dad also enlisted my help throughout her troubled teenage years and now Tina is getting married. God help us all, and poor Jasper, who is besotted with her and accepts her frailties. At least he’ll take over from me and be the one to deal with her problems.
She’s never had an official diagnosis of mental problems, but she must be on the spectrum, somewhere. God, if Mum heard me say that I’d be in deep strife. We all pretend that she’s normal.
Tina currently lives in Far North Queensland, just about as far away from Western Australia as you can get, which I must admit suits me fine. She went there a few months ago to get away from her troubles, meaning a bad breakup with her last boyfriend, who couldn’t deal with her tantrums. It was there she met poor Jasper; he works on the cattle station where Tina is a governess to the children.They must have been desperate to use Tina as a governess. Maybe it’s a fancy title for a housekeeper.
Anyway, Tina wants to involve my children in the nuptials. Charlotte is to be a flower girl and three-year-old James, the ring bearer. It’s a long way for us all to travel, but I’ll never hear the end of it if we don’t fit in with what Tina wants.
They are getting married on the station; the reception will be outdoors, hay bales and all that, with a local country band and typical Country Women’s Association type food.
When she told me over the phone about the arrangements, I’d agreed it was all going to be wonderful. But there’s sure to be a disaster on the day.
Bloomfield, the town where the nuptials are to take place, is a long way from anywhere, even after the redeye flight to Cairns, the journey is just starting. My husband, Jeff has organised a four wheel drive vehicle that we are to collect from Cairns airport. Our flight lands at five am and we’ll have to wait two hours for the Avis counter to open before we can pick up the car. The kids are sure to be exhausted and grumpy by then.
My parents have been at the cattle station for the past week helping with the arrangements, we’ll meet them there once we’ve had a good night’s sleep. Tina’s booked our accommodation, I hope it’s comfortable, we are all so tired.
We’ve reached the Bloomfield Lodge, after a six hour drive on gravel roads and water crossings.
From the outside the hotel has an air of neglect, it reminds me a bit of Norman Bates’ old place. Our children are asleep on the back seat of the hired off-roader. The car looks as if we’ve traversed over desert and through floods. No wonder the hire car people charged us so much for insurance when we told them our destination.
“This looks grim, Jeff,” I say, before heading towards the dark building. The sign declaring ‘Office’, is on a sign hanging askew over the door.
The hinges protest as I enter, then the door slams shut behind me. I glance out of the dirty window to assure myself my family is still there.
“Can I help?” The sound startles me; I turn to find a man standing behind me.
“Oh, I’m sorry, you scared me, I didn’t see you standing there.” I gasp, holding my throat.
“Did you reserve a room?” His voice is little more than a whisper.
My eyes become accustomed to the gloom and I can see him more clearly. He’s short and stocky, hardly taller than a dwarf.
“Yes, my sister, Tina, made the reservation for us. Mr and Mrs Clarke and two children. A family room?”
I’m sure that a dump like the Bloomfield Lodge could never be fully booked, but the clerk still goes around the counter and opens the reservation book on the desk.
“Ah. Yes. You follow me. Your husband can drive around the back. It’s cabin thirteen.”
We walk outside. “Bring the car around the back, Jeff,” I call.
Walking behind the motel manager, I can’t take my eyes off him. He moves with a strange gait; reminding me somewhat of Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame. He hands me a big, old key with the number thirteen hanging from it, and leaves without a word.
“Come on kids, wake up, we’re here.” Jeff whispers. He has to carry little James.
I open the door, expecting the creak from the hinges. The whole place reeks of neglect, and of something dead. Jeff and I look at each other, a look that says it all. Tina has not given us much thought when she booked this place. The décor is from the nineteen sixties; I’m sure nothing has been touched since the day it opened. Even the curtains and bedding appear to be original. A photograph of a young Queen Elizabeth, and a fly-specked picture of the royal boat Britannia are the only things on the yellowing walls.
I try the telephone attached to the wall to call Quasimodo and complain, but there’s no dial tone. I slam the receiver back on its cradle.
“Bloody typical Tina! What shall we do, Jeff? Shall we look for somewhere else?”
”I’m shattered, Chris. We’ll stay here, just for tonight.”
Today, after a terrible night’s sleep on the lumpy mattresses, we’re leaving in search of better accommodation. Quasi’s not happy, but that’s too bad.
We’ve turned up at the cattle station to a chaotic scene, Tina’s in tears, Mum and Dad are pleading with her to calm herself down.
“Ah, thank goodness you’re here. Talk sense into her, Chris. She says she’s not going ahead with the wedding. She’s changed her mind.” Mum grabs my arm, shoving me towards my hysterical sister.
”What’s the problem, Tina.” I ask, attempting to bring a sense of order.
“Jasper thinks I’m being oversensitive, too pedantic.”
Mm, he’s not the only one. I mutter under my breath.
“I’m coming home.” Tina sobs
Oh no! I need to think of something fast. I know this was just another of her dramas.“Come on, Tina, let’s get out of here and go for a drive, just you and me. I grab her arm and steer her to the car.
As we drive, I tell her about our psycho experience at the motel, which makes her laugh. She begins to calm down and and we actually talk, like the adults we are perhaps for the first time in our lives. She starts to tell me things about her life in Bloomfield.
“I love it here, Sis, and Jasper understands me. Well, most of the time.” Her face lights up at the thought of her fiancé. “No one’s ever got me before, except you. I’ll miss you so much,” she says, tears filling her blue eyes.
We stop at the only shop in town and buy a coffee. I wipe her tears, as I’ve done so many times throughout our lives, and I realise that I’ll be the one who will be lonely without my little sister.