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She sat down next to me, took my hand in hers, and looked in my eyes. Her eyes were pooling with tears and I felt fear building up inside me. "Nichole" she started, she paused then took another breath "Nichole died" She said.

I took a sharp intake of breath and tried to make the words register in my mind. They played over and over in my mind 'Nichole's dead. Nichole's dead' , but I remained emotionless. Shock I guess. I heard Arnold let out a sob, and I still remained emotionless. What was wrong with me? Nichole and I are as close as sisters and my brothers crying before I am? Mum hugged me. And I just felt oh so guilty that I didn't feel anything.


That day was one of the weirdest I'd ever experienced. It started to rain, which perfectly matched everyones mood. And we were allowed the day of school. Mum advised us to start packing as we'd be going to the funeral. It was amazing, we hadn't been home in 4 years, then all of a sudden twice in a month!

I spent most of the day in my room, packing and listening to music.

I was listening to Lene Marlin, and going through my drawers looking for an odd sock (What on earth is it with them vanishing? Is their, like, some kind of Cat Burgler who sneaks in at night and steals all your odd socks???) when 'A Place nearby' came on. I guess it would have affected Mum or Bryan but for me it didn't mean anything

Heaven is a place nearby
So I won't be so far away
And if you try and look for me
Maybe you'll find me someday
Heaven is a place nearby
So there's no need to say good-bye
I wanna ask you not to cry
I'll always be by your side

What's wrong with me?


By the end of the day, after spending a grand total of like 5 hours on the phone, the arrangements had been made.

We would fly over to Christchurch, NZ, where we would meet up with my Aunt Jenna. We'd then travel together Northward by van (My Aunt has a phobia about traveling, and doesn't do well on her own)

We leave tomorrow.

Which means I have to finish packing, and work out what it is I'm forgetting. This is truly a nightmare!


We arrived at ChristChurch airport the next day. Aunt Jenna greeted us with tears. Something I seemed to be around a lot. We out for lunch then started our journey. We had to catch the ferry by 9 that night. We had lots of time! Or so we thought...


"What do you mean the tires flat?" Mum yelled as she slammed her fists against the steering wheel.

"The tires flat Mum" Arnold called from the front of the car, where he'd been sent to check.

"Just great!" Mum climbed out of the car and went to the back to get the spare tire. She got it out and handed it to Arnold, then climbed back into the car.

"Um... Mum. Aren't you going to help?" Arnold asked.

"Nope, you know how terrible I am with cars" She got out a map to check we were taking the correct route.

Arnold sighed and walked over to my window. I looked out at him then tried to pretend he wasn't there. He just kept staring at me. Finally I sighed and rolled down the window.

"What?" I asked testily.

"Come help your brother wontcha?" He asked.

"Last time I helped you I got in a lot of trouble" I retorted and started to roll up the window.

"Muuuuuuuuuuuuum" Arnold whined.

"Ashley, help your brother!" Mum said.

"But Mum.. you know how terrible I am with cars?"

"GO... NOW!" She slowly pronounced each word, putting a lot of emphasis on each syllable.

Someones in a bad mood...


Half an hour later we were back on the road. Me with two broken nails, and a lot of chipped nailpolish. This trip is so fun right now!

I glanced at my watch then did some quick calculations.

"Arnold" I whispered, I leaned over the seat so I could talk to him (Rose and I are in the middle seats, Arnold and Jonathon are in the back, and Mum and Aunt Jenna are in the front)


"According to that road sign we just passed. We're 5 hours from Picton"

"Yeah?" He prompted.

"It's 5 o'clock already! We're an hour behind"

Arnold stared at me in shock "You tell her! You worked it out!"

"Nuh-uh! I've done my share, I worked it out!"

"You tell her!"

"No! You tell her!"



If you didn't know our ages you'd probably suspect them to be 12, huh?

"What are you two whispering about? And Ashley get BACK IN YOUR SEATBELT!"

I quickly slunk back into my seat and refastened the belt "Um.. Arnold?"

"No! You tell her!"

"No! You!" And it starts again...

"I dont' have time for this! Tell me!" Mum yelled from the front.

I just sat there leaving it up to Arnold to say.

"We're gonna be an hour late for the ferry" He almost whispered.


Where are the police? Like hello! We've been driving 20kph over the limit for the last 2 hours! Why haven't they pulled us over? This is crazy!


"We're not gonna make it" I whispered to Arnold as we sped up to the ticket booth at the dock.

"Is this ticket for tomorrow?" The lady asked when Mum handed it to her.

"No it's for today"

The lady got out her mic and talked to someone on board the ship "We have a late arriver. Is there time?"

Mum looked extremely embarrased.

"Ok, go up to row 7 the lady pointed"

"Phew!" I breathed as we drove up onto the ferry. Everyone else was getting out of their cars and looking at us strangely. We'd got their just in time.

"Well that was nice and embarrasing" I muttered as I helped Rose out of her seat.

Chapter 9

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