Victor had always wanted to be exceptional. To be admired by his friends for his rare qualities. However, perhaps the only thing he had ever done that could be considered exceptional was the picture he had drawn when he was younger of a brain. He had entered a competition run by a long since defunct magazine, and had earned a well deserved special mention. The picture now hung in his hallway next to a picture that had once hung in the local art gallery.
He was planning a party. He was going to have a party to celebrate his departure on an adventure abroad. He was going to take eight weeks unpaid leave from work, and in a couple of weeks would be heading to the airport to board a flight to another world.
He had no idea what he would actually do once he arrived, but was sure he would know once he got there. A couple of nights in a luxury hotel were included with his flight, after which he would have to either find more accomodation or have boarded a train destined for some mysterious place.
He wanted to meet other travelers.
When it was all over he wanted to have many stories to tell.
The party would need to be low key, as the neighbours were quiet people. The music should be funky, but not too absorbing and definitely not so loud as people would have to shout to be heard. There should be lots of chatter at the party.
There would need to be food at the party. Lots of things that people could pick at. Savoury, sweet nibbles laid out on a table. This wasn't the usual kind of party he or his friends were used to, but he thought this might be fun, and if not that then memorable at least.
The day of the party had arrived. The table was laid with a multitude of different snacks. There was jelly, cheese sticks, peanuts and a dish with coloured dips. Every variety of snack the local supermarket could provide had been included.
Victor sat in his favourite chair and waited for his first guests to arrive.
He would learn something this evening. Something quite unexpected.
The music was playing. His multi-coloured rucksack sat at the bottom of the stairs in the hall way. He waited and thought of the task ahead of him. A taxi was to arrive at 5:30 on the dot, to take him to the airport many miles away. He would board the plane after having treated himself to few spirits in the airport lounge, and he would take up his seat by the window. How he looked forward to the flight, he enjoyed flying very much and didn't think he would sleep very much on the journey, despite it taking around ten hours.
He was both excited and anxious, after all he had never been on holiday on his own before. How was he supposed to know whether he would like it or not? But then that was part of the attraction he thought, not knowing what lay ahead or if he could deal with what the path he had chosen might throw at him.
He tried to imagine what the airport at the other end would be like, he closed his eyes and concentrated but all he could see were his parents, there at the arrivals gate ready to greet him. He whinced and looked quickly around the room. He was just nervous, thats all it was. A silly thought.
He had said goodbye to his folks the night before last. His father had pushed a fifty pound note into his hand when they had shaken hands at the end of the evening. There would be a lot he could do with a fifty where he was going, his father had said. So be careful, his mother had pleaded, you don't know what these people might be after.
He promised himself a stroll on the beach when he arrived, before going back to his hotel for a long nap, as the time difference would take some getting used to.
The door bell rang and Victor's heart missed a beat. Who had arrived first?
He had invited almost everybody he knew. There were his best mates Henry and Garth. Then there were those that made up the group when he would go out on the town. He had also invited some of the more outgoing people from work. However, he hoped that the person now at the door, the first one to arrive at his party would be Yasmin. He adored her, and could think of no better start to his holiday than having her in his house alone with him, even if it was only for a few minutes.
He checked his reflection in the mirror for a moment before standing straight and boldly flinging the front door wide open. His first guest was Bob.
"Come and give us a hand mate, Steve has all but passed out in the cab. We started early - straight from work!"
This would surely not impress Yasmin. Maybe she would be best arriving last.
Within about an hour most of the people that would come had already arrived. The music he chosen had gone from been light but funky to being loud and hard. Some of his pals had taken a dislike to Bob and Steve had been in the downstairs toilet for more that half an hour.
His table with nibbles had fallen into disrepair. Where there were once dips and chips there were now ashtrays and empty cans of lager.
Where was Yasmin, she had said to him that she definitely wouldn't miss seeing him off safely. Victor went up stairs to apply some more after shave. He then brought the bottle back down with him and squeezed it into his rucksack. He opened the front door to let some air in and there she stood.
"Oh! Can I still ring your bell - I want to hear what it sounds like!"
She stepped inside and gave him quick peck on the lips before handing him a little present wrapped in paper featuring a flower print design. He joked with her that since all the houses looked the same he could simply move next door when the party was over.
He showed her into the living room and went to the kitchen to find some fresh drinks.
The rest of the night went without too much of a bang. Steve came out of the toilet, apologized and left. His other friends from work jested with him about how lucky he was to escape for a while, and how they would be stuck at work toiling under a fierce regime - perhaps they would hang a jacket over the back of his chair so that they could pretend he was still there and not be reminded of how he would be enjoying himself in a far away land. His pals wished him well and told him to forget about this place for a while. Henry told him he would miss him and said that he thought he should bring back something exotic to hang on the wall, instead of that awful picture of a brain he had drawn when they were still at school. Garth put his arm around him and was swaying back and forth telling him all about what he would do with all the lovely ladies he promised Victor he will meet abroad, and to take the proper precautions, as you never know where the dirty slappers might have been.
Then came the bombshell. Yasmin was going on holiday too.
"Yeah, me and Hannah thought we'd go to Ibiza for a week, sorry I won't be here to see you when you arrive home."
"No, no, really. It doesn't matter. You go and have a blast", he had replied, "I'll probably be in quarantine riddled with disease for the first week anyway.", he joked. But his mind was swimming with disappointment.
"We can catch up a bit later then."
"Yeah, of course."
He just wanted to be alone.
Why was he disappointed? It wasn't because she was going to such a notorious place of pleasure and would probably make one or two men there very happy indeed, no it wasn't that. He had no hold over her, he knew that. He wanted her to be here when he came back, thats all. He hadn't thought that this could happen. He hadn't given much thought to the endless possible senarios that might confront him when he returned. Victor had just assumed she would be here when he came back, that nothing would change. Not around here, nobody did anything around here.
She gave him another peck on the lips and said she would miss him. Take care she had said, and don't open your present until you are on the plane.
He lay in bed staring up to the ceiling through the darkness. He could hear the faint sounds of Henry putting bottles and cans into bin liners and the much louder sound of Garth snoring in the next room. His body ached and his mind was numb with the prospect of tomorrow.
Victor sat in his seat by the window. He could hear the whistle of the jet engines bracing themselves for take-off. Reaching forward to the pouch on the back of the seat in front of him, he pulled out the present Yasmin had given to him last night. He couldn't wait any longer, he must find out what was inside.
Still replaying the events of the previous evening and trying to picture himself on some tropical beach, now only hours away, he began to peel off the flower print paper. Inside was a beautiful little notepad with matching miniature pen. Victor opened its embroidered cover to see if there was anything written inside.
"Victor, in this little book you can keep your diary. Share your thoughts with its pages and write to me too (if you want to that is, I'm sure you'll be busy). Lots of love, Yasmin."
He had sort of floated from the airport lounge to his seat on the plane. His thoughts had been all over the place. The events of the night before, his destination, his parents and practical things such as have I remembered to bring everything I'll need, had filled his head. He had never thought of taking a book with which to keep a diary. That was what a camera was for, right? To take pictures of the places he would go and of the people he would meet.
There was an old lady sitting next to him who remarked, "That's pretty, isn't it. It's so nice to see a young man who is not afraid to jot down his thoughts for once. Yes, a rare sight indeed."
Pictures are for other people, thought Victor. This book is for me.
He felt a little foolish at how he had behaved recently. Hadn't he realised that everyone else had thought the same. That this trip he was taking, it was for him and him alone. Not for anyone else and because he wanted to seem exciting, he was just Victor, the Victor that each saw with their own eyes. He must have his reasons for going and good luck to him. How excited he must be to finally be on his way.
With the pen in his hand he made his first thought. Day one, sitting in the plane on the runway... The jet engines roared and the plane surged forward aiming for the skys.