“Hey, Mes, wake up.”
“Wake up, sleepyhead.” Sami chuckled as he pat the younger boy’s longish hair gently, “We’re almost there.”
Groggily Mesut rubbed his tired eyes with the back of his hand. He snuggled more into his blanket, but something was weird. His body aches and the air was way too cold for his liking. He blinked a few times and remembered where he was. He sat up right next to Sami, his older cousin, who was taking him to Spain on his long break and they were sitting in the passenger seats on a plane. He couldn’t believe he actually forgot about that.
He remembered begging for permission from his mummy and daddy to stay with at Sami’s house in Madrid the whole holiday. It was a long break, he thought, and all of his schoolmates went somewhere in the country or even abroad. Thomas actually went to Amsterdam this time and there was no way his parents would allow him to tag along, but with his adult and responsible cousin, of course they melted easily.
“Uh…what time is it, Sami?” he was still nervous; it felt like he had slept for too long.
“It’s almost 11, I can’t believe you’re still capable to sleep on such a short flight!” the older man laughed and earned a slight hit on his side.
“Well, I couldn’t get much sleep last night, I was a little nervous, okay?” he pouted a bit.
“You mean you were nervous and talked with Thomas all night, bombarding him about how excited you are to be able to go with big bro Sami?” he chuckled and Mesut couldn’t reply to that.
“Shutup.” He mumbled sleepily and turned his gaze to the window pane. He could see the land already—unlike German, the cloud was thinner below him. He could see the foreign shape of the reddish, green land below and spotted some water ways he had never seen before. Everything looked and even felt foreign for him. He couldn’t believe that he really is in Spain. He sighed and moved to get up, “Move aside, Sami, I gotta’ pee.”
“We’re almost landing, Mes.”
“There’s still time!” the boy pouted, but suddenly there was a chime and the aircraft’s pleasant voice filled the air.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in a few minutes we will be landing. For your own convenience, please do not leave your seat. Keep your seatbelt and the window lid open. Thank you.”
Sami laughed at the disbelief that was written all over his cousin’s face. “It’s not fair!”
“Sit down, Mes.” The older man giggled—Mesut could’ve sworn that Sami fucking giggled.
Frowning, the boy sat back down and buckled his seatbelt, “Why is it always like this?”
“I told you to go to the toilet after the take-off.”
“But I was sleepy.” He mumbled.
Sami couldn’t hold the urge to ruffle the boy’s hair any longer with a smile, “Shut up now, you’re such a baby.”
Mesut really couldn’t stop observing his new surroundings with his mouth agape; everything was so different in Madrid. Even the airport was colorful. He liked Barajas already, the people were friendly even in the airport and they could mostly speak in English. He was proud of the fact that he didn’t get lost on his way back to Starbucks (where Sami was waiting) from the toilet. It felt different from his other trips abroad; his parents used to get themselves a guide or joined a tour group which wasn’t fun at all for Mesut.
They took a cab from the airport; Sami said it wouldn’t take too long. Mesut almost pressed his face to the window along the way as he watched people and the buildings, the colors are bright and there were things he had never seen before. He felt like a ten year old all over again, so giddy and excited. He overheard Sami speaking to his wife on the phone, saying that they’d be there soon. Mesut remembered Lena when she hadn’t married Sami; she was an amazingly talented international model. He almost couldn’t believe that she’d let her career and fame go to be with Sami at all.
Sami told him that Lena was now working on her own designs. She worked from home which Sami preferred better. He spoke so many things about his wife that Mesut didn’t realize how fast the time flew, their taxi stopped and Sami told Mesut to get his stuffs before paying the cab-driver. Mesut mounted both baggage out of the car and glanced at the house they were stopping in front of.
It was nothing like his expectation from a Spanish house; he expected to see a ranch and a huge, three-storey house with a large garden, a gardener, at least a maid, and a fountain, but Sami’s was nothing like that. It was a simple, homey-looking 2 stores white house with white fences, a large enough front garden inhabited by flowers with various color, a small pond with a cherub sitting on its rocky edge, and flowerpots hanging by the terrace. It wasn’t fancy, he knew Sami could afford fancy, but it looked really beautiful.
“What are you gaping at, huh?” Sami flicked his cousin’s forehead.
“Ouch,” Mesut rubbed the reddening spot on his forehead, “Nothing. Your house is…gorgeous.”
“Wow. I should thank to Lena then.” He grinned as he opened the turnstile with a small creak, “I was pretty persistent about using yellow paint back then.”
Mesut chuckled, “You’ll blow the house.” He followed the older man a little nervously. He hadn’t seen Lena since their wedding, he never got the right moment to learn more about the girl because she used to be so busy and she went with Sami right after the wedding. He was still pondering at the bottom stair to the terrace, but before Sami could even reach the terrace, a beautiful blonde woman bursted out from the front door with a wide smile and gleaming eyes.
“Sami!” She exclaimed as she jumped into Sami’s arms and startled him with a kiss, “Welcome home, honey!” she hugged the taller man so tightly but rather than getting grossed out, Mesut somewhat thought it was pretty adorable.
“Hey, precious.” He smiled all so lovingly at his wife which made Mesut blush, he had never seen such an expression from him before. “You do remember Mesut, right?”
It was like his cue to smile awkwardly at Lena, “Hello-“
“Oh, baby Mesut! Welcome!” she quickly ran towards the younger boy and wrapped her slender arms around him tightly. Mesut both blushed and winced at the power those thin arms got, “You’re so tall now! The last time I met you, you were only this tall.” she leveled her shoulder with her hand, smiling ever so widely.
The boy could only smile shyly, this was the Lena he remembered; the happy-go-lucky, ever so energetic and elegant girl he met a few years ago when he was still in middle school. Suddenly Lena clasped her hands with a gasp, “Oh, you must be tired and hungry! Come in, come in! And would you like to eat or rest first? Oh my god, you’re so thin, Schatzi! You should eat more! Ah Sami, liebling, show him his room, please? I gotta’ check the thepaella. You like seafood, dear? And tapas? How do you feel about creamy desserts afterwards?”
“Lena,” Sami sighed with a thin smile and his wife turned a look at him, “Just go.”
“Oh, yeah, right, he’s tired. Okay.” She stuck out her tongue cutely before dashing into the kitchen.
Sami took Mesut upstairs and showed a room Lena prepared for him beforehand. The room wasn’t as spacious as Mesut’s, but just enough for him alone. He actually noticed how the light-blue walls were clean and seemed to be scrubbed often. There was a fluffy single bed with frilly cover, decorated with teddy some stuffed animals, and a huge window next to it. Mesut blinked.
“Oh, just remove them into the closet, you’ll be fine.” The older man quickly replied, but Mesut was still amazed. He took one stuffed-animal that looked like a pink duck and turned a look at his older cousin.
“Why do you have so many of these?”
“Ah, never mind that.” hurriedly the older man took the stuffed animal from Mesut and shoved it with the rest of them into the nearest closet, “Lena’s niece. She stays once in a while.”
“Not a good argument, Sami!” the young Turk laughed, “You two are planning to have children, aren’t you?”
Sami turned impossibly red and avoided his cousin’s look. “Go get some sleep before Lena bothers you again. I’m uh…I’ll be downstairs.” He walked to the door, but glanced momentarily, “You can use the bathroom in the hallway, btw. Come downstairs afterwards.” Before Mesut could make a reply for that, Sami already left the room.
The Turkish sighed contently as he sat down on the bed and laid back. It was so comfy. He couldn’t believe that his cousin was actually already planned up to this length. He really turned into a grown-up, he thought. He rolled on the bed with a sigh as he blinked for a few times. It was really comfy. He knew he should at least change first before he could get comfy and all, but his eyelids dropped and he fell asleep through the day.
“Schatzi, eat your more of your taco. You’re so thin!” Lena rolled another taco with lots of beef for Mesut and placed it on the boy’s half-empty plate. She was grinning so happily watching the boy eating and it was the third taco for this morning. The Turk wasn’t used to have such a heavy meal in the morning; he even barely had his breakfast back in Berlin every single morning, but the happy look on the pretty blonde’s face made it impossible for him to say no.
“Sure, Lena.” He sheepishly smiled. It was amazing how energetic Lena seemed to be after spending two hours cleaning in the kitchen this morning and it was only 8.
Sami descended the staircase wand walked towards the dining table, kissing his wife briefly on her cheek before joining them on the table. “You must’ve been feeding him a whole cow again.”
“No, I am not!” Lena pouted, “I’m actually excited to hear that you’re tagging along, Mes, dear. I just mastered some more recipes recently and this guy here,” she nudged Sami, “Has learnt his way to avoid my cooking.” She sighed dramatically.
“It’s not that, mija, but you do know that I have to keep myself in shape.” Calmly the older man took an untouched piece of taco from Mesut’s plate and took a bite.
“Hey!” Lena nudged him again.
“He’s had enough, mein Liebling, you’ve practically shoved the whole supermarket down his throat last night.”
Lena was about to say something, but quickly Mesut added, “I’m good, Lena. I love your cooking, by the way, they’re fantastic.” The boy smiled at her genuinely. He sure loved the cooking so much, but if he ate any more than this, he might burst.
“Aww, thank you, Schatzi.” The beauty queen of the house ruffled Mesut’s hair, “Wow, such soft hair you got there. Do you want anything else, Mes? Milk?” Mesut was about to refuse, but she was quicker to get up, “Milk it is then. Black coffee, dear?” She turned to Sami who only nodded in response, “Okay. I’ll get some churros too, they’re still hot.” She then skipped her steps towards the kitchen, humming happily.
Mesut watched her with a quirk of an eyebrow before he threw a look at his cousin who hid behind his newspaper. “Don’t even ask, Mes, please.”
The boy only grinned and continued to nibble on his taco. Suddenly, he heard the front door opened and he heard a cheerful (if not shrill) voice.
“¿Buenos días, señora Khedira???”
Sami made a quick reply, “Entra, tía!” He replied calmly as he flipped the pages of his paper, “Lena está en la cocina.”
Mesut blinked. A few seconds later a middle-aged woman walked into the dining area from the front. Mesut noticed the distinctive Spanish look on her, the kind of nice-aunty you’d find as one of the protagonists in telenovela. She smiled widely at Sami who smiled at her. “Buenos días, mister Khedira!”
“Buenos días, tia. You sure look beautiful too today.” Sami smiled fondly at her.
“Oh, you’re always like that, mister.” She laughed and suddenly set her eyes on Mesut who shrunk in an instance. “¡ Oh, Que niño tan lindo! Buenos días, tio. ¿Quien es él, mister Khedira?” her eyes gleamed as she looked at Mesut.
“He’s my cousin, tia. His name is Mesut.” Swiftly the older man switched his language as he turned to Mesut, “This is Mrs. Catalina, Mes. She’s here on weekdays to help around. Just call her tia.”
“Er…” Mesut smiled nervously, “I’m not sure I’d be able to communicate with her at all…”
“Greet her. Say, ‘buenos días, tia’.”
“Uh,” the boy turned to the old lady who smiled expectantly and stuttered, “B-buenos días,tia…” his accent sounded awful, but it seemed to please Mrs. Catalina.
“Bebé inteligente, muy inteligente! I’ll talk to you boys later, alright? Vea usted, May-soot.” She shuffled into the kitchen and Mesut could hear Lena’s excited chatter in Spanish from there. He shuddered.
“Where would you like to go today, Mes?” Sami asked, “I’m free for the whole week, at least I’d like to show you around so you can go yourself then.”
“Hmmm…I don’t know. Surprise me.” The boy shrugged.
Sami pondered for a while. He hadn’t thought of anything just yet, “Hmmm…how about visiting some traditional markets, they’re still open until 10 AM, and a lunch at this cool restaurant I know—you’ll get fat staying here, eating with Lena everyday—and then I’ll take you to a bullfight.”
Mesut blinked. “Bullfight? Seriously?”
“Yeah. So you’ll get a material to write your holiday assignment.” The older man shrugged.
“I’m not a 5th grader anymore. But…the bulls always get killed, right?” the younger boy bit his lower lip worriedly. He was slightly squeamish, and from what he saw on TV, the matador would kill the bull with a sword. He winced at the thought.
“You’re talking like a little boy now,” Sami chuckled, “A friend of mine is actually one of the matadors and he’s pretty good I think. He gave me a lifetime access to watch his shows, never showed up before, why not now that you’re here?”
“It’d be good. Okay, been there once, not that creepy actually, it’s beautiful in a way.”
Mesut pouted a little as he looked at his cousin intently and shrugged, “Whatever.”
Mesut stood near an empty gate, waiting for Sami who went to talk to the guard of Plaza de toros about their seats. He put on his earphones and listened to his iPod, his cousin was taking a bit long. He had been telling four touts “no habla” for the past fifteen minutes and it was quite unsettling for him. Thomas used to show him some gory stuff before he decided to put it to an end with a brawl in tears. He remembered one of Thomas’ favorite movies; it was about a group of highschoolers who went to a foreign Europe country only to get themselves dismembered one by one by an organ-selling organization. He shivered though it was kind of warm day.
He tried not to make an eye contact with anyone passing by, why would Sami leave him alone anyway? But he kept on telling himself that he could take care of himself, he was almost seventeen, and of course he could. He kept his eyes attached to his iPod screen most of the time that he didn’t notice a man who strode quickly in his direction and he almost let out a high-pitched scream when he ran into him. The iPod fell out of his hand and clattered on the ground.
Mesut gasped and turned a glare at the intruder of his peace who hurriedly bent down to take it from the ground with a loud, “Lo siento!”
When the man stood back up again, the boy couldn’t help but to cringe a bit. He was dressed way too suspicious in a bright daytime. He got a pair of shades on, that was okay, but why would someone wear a long trench coat with the collar turned upright and a pair of black, leather boots in this kind of weather? Mesut bit his lip and his face paled a bit, could he be someone from teenager-organ-dealer-organization?
“lo siento, no te ví.” He chuckled and turned to the teenager after checking on the iPod, “¿Estás bien?”
Mesut stared at him in horror, but out of blue, he replied, “N-no habla.”
The stranger made a small ‘oh’ and pondered a little before he asked, “Er…English then?”
“Uh. A little.” Mesut really wanted to smack himself now, why was he chatting with a suspicious stranger in the middle of nowhere?
“Okay. I’m sorry about the iPod, there’s nothing wrong with it, I guess.” He grinned and he checked on the buttons and flipped through the tracks, “Okay…wow, you listen to a lot of techno. Gotta’ try Flamenco, seriously.” His Spanish accent was thick, but friendly if the boy wasn’t too freaked out of how weird he looked. “Here.” The man gave it back to him and he carefully took it, “It’s a little scratched, I’m very sorry, I’ll get you a new one if you want. Just contact me.” He took his wallet out and gave out his card which the boy took, “I’m very sorry, but I gotta’ dash.” He smiled for the last time and continued to walk.
Mesut blinked and looked at the man’s broad back, pondering. What was wrong with people in this city? He didn’t even want to check the card and simply threw it away, wishing for Sami to quickly get him and waited there while trying to make himself invisible.
A few moment later Sami returned with two tickets, “It was hard to assure the guards but I met my friend at the gate, so he talked it out for us…why the hell are you sitting on the ground?” the older man looked at his cousin who shrunk himself in a corner of the gate, looking torn between sheepish and scared.
“I…uh…there was a really…weird guy…” he tried to sound nonchalant as he said that, but his voice was cracking. Sami shook his head with a sigh. He offered his hand and pulled the younger boy up with one pull.
“I’m sorry, Mes, shouldn’t have left you.”
“It’s okay.” The boy shrugged, “Maybe I won’t give this place a second chance anytime soon.” He tried to chuckle.
“Yeah, there are just a lot of weirdos around here.”