I.2

We touched down in the capital of Russia at about Midnight.

There was something so magical about Moscow that I found it captivating me for every new step I took. The golden spires of a Mosque opposite the airport glistened under the hands of thick snow. A sweet smell hung in the air. The smell of snow? It certainly seemed so. The white mantle covered the entire road like an icy carpet; this weather demon was relentless.

Even in the darkest moments, the shops were wide, warm, and welcoming, and figures shuffled past, too cold to enjoy what we English saw as newfound bliss.

I glanced down at a postcard that Ben had just bought; the scene ahead was a real-life mirror: women bustled past in those large fluffy hats synonymous with snow-peaked mountains and the steppe.

“So,” my mother began, her eyes wide as she gazed around the winter paradise. It was big sturdy buildings, the gleam of the moon-filled night, combined with the ethereal dust of snow. Everywhere was so beautiful.

“Do you want to find our hotel first, or should we do some sightseeing?”

I rolled my eyes at my mother’s enthusiasm.

“Mum, it’s the middle of the night.”

“Hotel, then?” she suggested, just so I would have to agree.

I listened to the crunch of our footsteps as my mother changed directions and led us though the dark streets.

“We can sightsee tomorrow. We’ve got loads of time,” I said.

“A week. Enough to see all we want and more.”

Guilt built up in my chest as I realised that I’d have to form a plan to escape from my mother’s terrible sightseeing plans, leaving her and Benny to tour Moscow and its surrounding towns on their own.

Surprisingly, once we reached the hotel and checked into our adjoining rooms, I flumped down on my bed and fell straight to sleep, into the peaceful lack of dreams.

There was no hole in my heart. It must have been warmed shut by the jetlag.

The End

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