This is a story I hope you’ll fancy.
The plot is fictive but there’s something real from me.
It’s the poem; it represents all the things in UK I’d like to do.
But will I get the chance?
Well, I guess it’s up to you.
* * *
Kye opened the door to her flat. She’s drained from all the work she did today. It paid off, though. She managed to close a deal that would make her bosses happy. On top of that, tomorrow’s the first day of her holiday. Kye’s done such a good job at work for the past year she got two weeks’ worth of paid leave.
“What to do? What to do?”
She dropped herself onto her sofa, thinking about what she should do—where should she go? It’s been a while since she’s travelled anywhere. And now’s the perfect moment to get lost without having to worry about work.
Struck by an idea, she scurried to her room. She pulled a box under her bed and opened it. Postcards from pen pals, clippings from travel magazines—Kye used to collect these when she was in junior high. They’re like her travel bucket list. While she was rummaging through the contents, a piece of paper fell. It was old and crumpled. Kye flattened it and tried to read it.
“What could this be, I won—wait, this is perfect!”
Kye hurried to her phone, her eyes still glued to the piece of paper. After a somewhat awkward session of trying to grab her phone without seeing it, she dialled a friend who works at a travel agent.
“Hello, Jamie? This is Kye. Listen, book me a ticket. Just the ticket. First class. Where? London, England. Three days from now. Got it? Okay, call me later with the details. Thanks.”
* * *
Three days later….
I’d like to leave
During the season of fallen leaves
To the land of “Her Majesty”
Where her subjects live happily
May God save the Queen
Heathrow Airport. Kye took a deep breath and let the atmosphere sink in. Her feet could still support her, but she felt weak. Kye shivered as if she had ague. She couldn’t help but laugh out of happiness. If she were still in her teenage years she’d probably have burst into tears. Yet, she managed to compose herself. Her logic kicked in. She needed to get her luggage and head straight to the hotel.
* * *
Kye jumped onto the bed the minute she walked out of the bathroom. Her hair’s still wet, but she doesn’t care about that right now.
“London. I’m really in London,” she said, her voice muffled under the pillows. It felt so surreal.
Kye headed for the window. Opening the curtains, she sighed at the sight of the city in lights. She could just stand there ‘til dusk dawned, but she knew she’ll need to rest to prepare for the following days. Though in euphoria, Kye managed to doze into a deep slumber minutes after she closed her eyes.
* * *
I want to stroll down River Lea
Let wonderfully random thoughts fill up my brain
As I skip giddily down the street
Where the ends of my fantasy and reality meet
Kye woke up to faint rays of light that broke through the openings of the curtains, softly dancing as the caress the wooden floor. She dressed herself and hastily went to have breakfast. Nothing could stop her from munching down a full and hearty breakfast! With a happy tummy and a skip in her step, Kye got ready to explore the city.
There’s a slight fog in the air, but for Kye, it makes everything look so mystical and mysterious. And magical, too. She caught a cab and went to River Lea.
It was beautiful.
Kye thanked her lucky stars that she went there in early autumn. Most of the leaves have changed colour, some have even fallen to the ground, but there were still many of them hanging on branches, and she could spot a few green leaves. Then her eyes spotted something and she beamed even more.
It was a boat. After asking around, Kye found out she could step in and enjoy a ride down the river. Of course she wanted to! She almost jumped inside the little boat! But when she saw the view, she calmed down, soaking it all in. By coincidence, she overheard two elderly women talking.
“Do you miss your son? He hasn’t been back here for what—a year?”
“Yes, love. Ah, I do miss him so. When he was just a tiny lad we’d go to Richmond Park. Oh, how he loved to see the deer!”
“Um, excuse me,” Kye interrupted them, her eyes sparkling with enthusiasm, “may I ask which park you were talking about, ma’am? And by any chance, is it located around here?”
* * *
My wish ‘tis to lie on the ground
Watch the sun set as falling leaves surround
Envisaging the beauty, I have no doubt
Right there, right then, I’ll be bound
To fall in love
Kye was out of breath. Lying on the ground atop soft grass, she smiled. She was in Richmond Park all day, only going out for lunch at a nearby restaurant before coming back. She ran around like a little girl, stepped on crunchy leaves, dipped her feet in the pond there. She even got to talk to a complete stranger who explained the flowers that grew there. The bluebells were Kye’s favourite.
Kye could hear some children laughing in the distance. But it was barely more than a whisper. The only obvious sound was cooing. It couldn’t be helped—the pigeons are everywhere.
The sun was slowly going down. Kye stayed on the ground, watching the beautiful scenery. She chuckled out of happiness. In three days, she lost count of how many times she did that.
This vacation’s nowhere near a mistake on my part, she thought. And now she decided to clear her head and focus on the sky, the birds, the trees, the deer—everything her little mind could hear and feel and smell and see and turn into memory.
For a second the thought to take a picture entered. But she shook it off. Kye didn’t want to lose a millisecond of anything. She could always browse for pictures, but she can’t always be at peace like this. Besides, her memory’s enough, and why should she take pictures? Bragging rights? She’d rather keep a place like this to herself, if she could.
Slowly, unwillingly, Kye got up. She knew the park would be closing soon. She agonisingly walked out of Richmond Park, hoping that the few days she still has would be half as good as this one.
* * *
I’d like to try out the culinary
Some fun food for my tummy
Also immerse myself in culture
Maybe a pub crawl and other things in feature
“Ah, I’m stuffed!”
“But you haven’t even had a beer, yet, love!”
Kye was in a little dining place, drinking her tea. She’s just finished a full English Breakfast and a portion of Fish n’ Chips. I wonder how long it’ll take before I feel good enough to take a walk, she thought as she rubbed her stomach, signalling it’s full. The friendly middle-aged man who owned the place laughed and placed a small brown paper bag in front of her.
“Tell you what, love. Since you like my cooking so much, I’m giving you samples of my cakes—pies and crumbles. The recipes were my grandmama’s, so I’ll bet you they’re absolutely, positively delicious! Oh, don’t be shy, take them! Compliments for a well-fed customer,” he said with a wink. Kye smiled back and thanked her a few times before finally leaving.
“Now… where to?”
Kye wandered into a pub and ordered a glass of beer. A group of people around her age walked in, laughing and giving orders for drinks with ease. Unconsciously, she eyed them. Kye didn’t even realise it until one of them saw her.
“You alone, love?”
One of the girls said so, making the others turn their heads at her. After a few seconds of examining her, their faces turned into warm, welcoming ones.
“Come with us, my mates and I won’t bite” said a boy, laughing.
“We’re going on a pub crawl. It’s better than being alone, right?”
“We promise you’ll have a merry time!”
Kye thought it over, but she didn’t really have to. She felt like she could trust them. Besides, she’s not someone who’ll let herself get drunk and get taken advantage of. And she could always come up with a reason to leave if she felt anything off.
* * *
What would I do to step into Buckingham Palace?
Or see a passerby as an ant from atop London Eye?
Tour the land ‘til my feet grow callused
Then still somehow manage to go through Trafalgar Square
Amid all the hustle and buzz of tourists
Sighing, Kye stretched her feet. She’s been walking around aimlessly around London since dawn, going into any place she saw interesting. An art gallery, a few bookstores, an antique shop, Trafalgar Square, a cafe with a live band playing folk songs. She even spent two hours at Buckingham Palace!
The sky’s already dark, but she had one last stop. London Eye. And now she’s in one of the capsules, looking at the city lights like the first night from the hotel. Only… this was more beautiful. It’s breathtaking, to say the least. Kye almost cried watching it.
Her feet were tired, nearly sore, but she stood up again. Kye carefully placed both hands on the glass, then her forehead. It felt cool to the touch.
You know how they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Kye believed that. But she also believes that something this gorgeous would look magical to anyone—anyone—whose eyes set upon it.
* * *
All the historic places to see
All the wonderful people to meet
Places like Sherlock Holmes Museum and Westminster Abbey
The least is those two I’ll someday visit
Kye was just a few feet away from her dream museum. The famous Sherlock Holmes Museum. Her eyes were so fixated on it, she didn’t realise she stepped on someone’s foot.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!”
“No, no, I’m alright, love.”
Kye had stepped on the stranger’s foot. The redhead introduced herself as Tori. As it turns out, Tori wasn’t exactly paying attention either. She was texting someone while walking.
“Serves me right, doesn’t it?” she gave a playful wink that managed to elicit a laugh from the both of them.
“Are you here on holiday, then? You don’t strike me as a local,” Tori said with a smile. She genuinely seemed to be guessing, not in any way trying to offend. Kye nodded.
“I’m leaving tomorrow, actually. But I’d like to tour this place just a bit more, while I can. I’m planning to go to Westminster Abbey after this,” Kye said, a bit surprised for telling so much to a person she met barely five minutes ago. But during her stay in London, she felt that she’s so comfortable. She could talk openly to the people as long as she mind her manners, and everyone seems to be friendly enough to at least give an answer with a warm smile on their faces.
“Lucky you, then,” Tori said, “I’m going there today to draw,” she pointed to her backpack, presumably containing art supplies, “Would you come with me after you’re done here?”
“But… won’t I be intruding?” Kye hesitated.
“No, love, not at all the trouble! Actually, I kind of wanted company. Now I do!”
“Well, in that case, it would be rude to refuse, wouldn’t it?”
* * *
“What was your favourite part?”
“The garden, and the museum,” Kye sighed, wishing the Abbey opened for another hour. There was so much to look at but so little time, though she spent over two hours in there.
“Mine’s ‘Poet’s Corner’, as you can imagine.”
They both laughed. Tori turned out to be quite the artistic person. She can draw, write, sing, even act! Kye was ashamed of how loud she laughed when Tori tried to impersonate poets from centuries ago. It seems they just click.
“So, where do we go now?” Kye asked.
“Hmm… how about the Beatles Museum?” Tori said after some thought, “We still have over an hour ‘til they close.”
“Count me in.”
* * *
This isn’t a dream that may not come true
This is a goal that one day will fall due
It may be tomorrow—I’ll never know
But I’ll keep believing
One day, to UK I’ll go
I just know
“Well done, myself.”
A week has passed. Kye’s back at where she started; Heathrow Airport. In her hand’s the piece of paper that brought her here in the first place. It’s a poem she wrote long ago when she saw pictures of a friend’s trip to UK. It was like something stirred in her heart. She went back home that same day and went on a frenzy, asking everything about the United Kingdom to her parents.
Now I’ve found out for myself, she thought, ending her reminiscing session when she heard the announcement to board her flight.
She saw what she wanted to see. She found a new friend in Tori. Kye knew she’d miss Great Britain. Maybe when I get home I should start planning on my next holiday, and the next after that. I’ll definitely go back here—and God knows where else.
With that thought in mind and a smile plastered to her face, Kye walked towards her gate. Slowly, slowly. Taking the last moments in. Before she goes to bed on board and dream about her trip all over again.
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