"I'll just sleep in a while," I thought, drifting back into my blissful dreamland, "it won't do anyone any ..."
"Wake up!" I literally fell out of bed, at the sound of my mum's voice. Boy was she angry.
"Didn't I tell you yesterday, you had to wake us all up?" She paused for a moment, taking in as much air as she could. "Now get down here this minute or we'll miss the plane!"
A moment later it seemed, we were all fully dressed, carrying our luggage and standing in line waiting to board the plane.
This year my family and I were going to the Mainorato, a small but amazingly beautiful island full of exotic animals and plants. I was sure it would be my best holiday ever ... and I already had my trip planned:
On the plane, I sat next to my mother who was green in the face and clearly not enjoying the flight. Meanwhile, my older brother was criticising the choice of music. "Have they never heard of Green Day? I mean it's only, like, the most popular band at school!" he muttered sarcastically. "Jeez, the only songs they play are girl songs. Oh great! Five Taylor Swift songs in a row."
"Will you shut up?" I snapped.
"Why should I listen to a 10-year-old girl?" he retorted angrily.
"Stop arguing you two! Do you see anyone else complaining around here?" our mum complained.
Looking around, just about everybody on the plane was having an argument with the person next to them.
I was just about to open my mouth to argue but my mum interrupted: "Can't you just be quiet for once, please?"
She looked so tired and frustrated, I thought it would be best if I did shut up. "Sure Mum." For the rest of the journey both of us sat in silence.
However, I did gasp when I looked out the window and saw the fiery sun sinking below the horizon. It was a breathtaking sight. Its last rays were reflected in the crystal-clear sea, making it sparkle and shimmer.
Finally we landed at the bustling airport. Outside, we wandered around trying to get directions to our guesthouse: The Merman. The streets were busy and I could hear the shouts of the local people selling tourists all sorts of interesting souvenirs. The tourists were bargaining, trying to get good deals. I was overwhelmed by the smell of delicious food. The whole experience was a dream come true.
"So, should we get going or what?" I asked, breaking the silence. It was like the rest of my family were coming out of a trance.
"Oh yeah, sure. So which way is the hotel again?" my brother asked blankly.
We looked at each other with puzzled expressions on our face.
"Umm ... maybe we should ask someone else for directions," I suggested.
But instead we just wandered through the crowded streets, absorbed by our surroundings. We walked slowly, not wanting to miss anything. I bought myself a tropical drink and a small keychain from an old woman who looked very poor.
We were having so much fun we forgot to keep track of time, but eventually we did reach "The Merman". The hotel sign was peeling and losing its colour, and the rest of the building looked equally shabby, like a run-down shack, not one of the fancy, expensive hotels everyone else was staying at. We all glanced around uneasily.
"Well, are we going to go in or not?" my mum asked, "I mean, we've been looking for it for ages."
I nodded in agreement.
To our surprise, there were people inside, not the mutant aliens I had expected. As mum went to check in, a young man with fiery red hair appeared from nowhere.
"Hello, I am Peter. What do you want to find on this island?"
I noticed Peter was wearing a silver ring in his left ear. "Umm ... I don't know. Maybe something unbelievable," I whispered shyly.
When my mum and brother called me to come to see our rooms, I turned to say goodbye to Peter but he was nowhere to be seen. Mum was calling impatiently so I hurried after her.
Our room was small and quiet with an excellent view of the trees surrounding the guesthouse. I was tired and dying to lie down.
"Well I guess this is going to be 'Home Sweet Home' for the next two months," I said cheerfully, before diving under the fluffy duvet and instantly falling fast asleep.
I woke to the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the fogged-up window. Outside it was still dark, so I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. The wallpaper was peeling off the wall and the colour was fading. My eyelids were getting droopy and the last thing I heard before I drifted back to sleep again was my brother snoring like a pig.
"Wake up! Rise and shine!" my brother screeched.
I looked around for the clock, then yelled at my brother. "Why on earth did you wake me up at two in the morning? Are you stupid or what?"
"Is it that early? Oops!" He laughed.
Seven hours later I was still fuming. "He woke me up at two!" I complained to mum, before asking her what we were going to do that day. "Well, since it's raining," and it was, "we could just stay indoors, unpacking our bags or something," she said.
I groaned. I was looking forward to a fun holiday, but what did I get? Stupid rain. Sulking, I went to explore the hotel. As I looked up at an old staircase, I was surprised by a voice behind me. "Hi there."
It was Peter again. "Up there is the attic. You might find something interesting to play with."
The door creaked as I pushed it open, sending dust into the air and making me cough. Everything in the attic was covered in a thick layer of dust. As I made my way through tottering piles of junk, which constantly threatened to tumble down on me, I saw suits of armour, old photos, and boxes of clothes.
As I took out a costume, something fell to the floor. I bent down and picked it up: it was an old envelope. Inside was an ancient piece of parchment, a letter ...
These shall be my last words to you. I am an old man and I will pass away soon. My pirating days are over and all I wish to do is to settle down and live my last days peacefully.
I have left my treasure to you three; and I wish you to remember me for as long as you live. You may find my last gift to you 300 metres west, and 250 metres south, of the Eagle's Rock.
Nothing has made me prouder in my life than having you three as my sons. It was an honour to be your father.
I gasped. Redbeard was the infamous pirate who had once roamed the seas. Long ago, he and his crew had robbed people of their money and their happiness. And now, I had found where his treasure was hidden ...
I decided not to tell anyone about the whole Redbeard business. Next morning, I ate my breakfast hurriedly and, after reassuring my mum I was going to be fine, I went out. It was still early, so the streets were quiet. I had no idea what the Eagle's Rock was or where to find it, but I walked, hoping that the fresh air would clear my mind and help me think.
When I passed the old woman I'd met before, she smiled and asked: "Where are you going?"
"Nowhere in particular," I answered honestly.
"Have you been to the Eaglanuto's Ruoko yet? Most people call it the Eagle's Rock."
My heart thudded. "Where is the Eagle's Rock?" I asked politely, trying my best to keep calm.
However, I couldn't help myself sprinting off in the direction she pointed until I ran straight into a bunch of people circling a huge rock; it was shaped exactly like an eagle! I could barely contain my excitement. Using my compass, I headed west, and after 100 metres, I was surrounded by jungle.
I continued on, until suddenly I tripped on something and fell face first to the ground. Shakily, I got up and turned around and ... there was the top of a wooden chest! I dug and scraped at the soil until I was able to pull the box out of the ground with my trembling hands. Smashing the lock with a jagged rock, I opened the chest to find it contained ... a photo.
The picture showed a beautiful woman with a handsome man and three merry sons, all of them beaming happily.
One of the sons looked so familiar, I was confused. Then it came to me. I knew who these people were: they were Redbeard's family!
I was touched. Redbeard, said to be the most terrible pirate who ever lived, thought his family was more important than gold and jewels!
Blinking back my tears, I returned the photo to the chest. I was never going to tell anyone about the chest ... it would stay a secret forever.
Charlotte is a student of Dulwich College Beijing