She hunched down into the car seat so her coat went up on each side like shields. It didn't stop him from kicking her, but he couldn't see she was crying. She wished One of Them would turn round and tell him to stop, but they'd more likely just say "Toughen up, Mary!" It was hard to remember she and Jake had been friends once. Now Jake treated her like a plastic bag that had cought on his foot and he was always trying to shake her off, make her go back to her own family.
Before she could stop, the sob welled up, and she stopped taking the tiny breaths that kept her car-sickness under control. Her throat swelled, mouth filled with sourness, that burst out, over her chin, down her neck, onto her coat. Jake lurched to make as much distance between them as he could. Glaring triumphantly he shouted "Mum, Mary's been sick again!"
"Oh, for goodness sake, Mary!" Karen turned to glare at her and Mary shut her eyes. There was the sound of rummaging as Karen muttered "I'm sure she does it on purpose." to Dale before, louder "Here! Take these! Jake, there's none on you, sit properly, please!" Mary opened her eyes and looked up, grabbed the packet of wipes and tried with shaky sick-slimey fingers to pull one out. Dale grunted. Sometimes Dale was kind to her, but she could see from the way the back of his shoulders had gone up that this was not now. Often when Karen was cross with her then he was, too. Mary got a wipe out and began rubbing her face. Tears were pouring down now, which helped with the cleaning. It almost made her smile, till Dale snapped "Why didn't you use the bag? I gave you the bag, remember? We talked about it!" making Mary jump, feeling guilty. Where was the bag? She loooked round. Jake held it out, helpfully and she caught Dale meeting his eyes in the car mirror, nod with approval. "Well done, son!" She wished so much that she could meet her Dad's eyes, that she could see how much he loved her. That her Mum would clean her up, tell her it was ok and not to worry. Jake took the packet of wipes and handed her one. Mary glanced quickly at his face, but he was friendly this time. He pointed out the sick on her coat and kept giving her new wipes. She put the used ones in the bag, then thought perhaps that was wrong and Dale might want it back, so she put them in her coat pocket instead.
When she was as clean as she could be, she looked out of the car window. Jake was fidgety. "How long is it now?" "Well," said Dale, "If you look on your right, you'll see!" Mary was on the left, behind Karen, and she tried to see past Jake through his window. A bit of blue, where the ground should be. The sea! Then it was gone again behind everday buildings. But though it was exciting, it was like wanting to pull out something shiny in a bag of dull collage scraps, then finding it is a snake. Since she had had to live with Dale and Karen she had always thought, if she could only learn the way when they drove into town she would run away and go home. Or even just walk and walk and hope she saw something she knew. But with the sea between her and Mum and Dad, that would be impossible.
Jake got bouncier and noisier as Mary got quieter. When the car stopped, Dale turned round and smiled at her. "Buck up, Mary, Are you looking forward to your first holiday? You never done anything this exciting with your Mum and Dad, right?" She wished she could be doing this with them, instead. But they didn't go anywhere really since Dad stopped being able to walk without crutches, and she and Mum didn't like leaving him behind as he got sad. Mary shook her head.
The car was in a queue waiting to drive onto the ferry, which was a very big boat whose front had come down making a bridge for cars to go on. Mary wondered if ferry was another way of saying very. When it was their turn to drive on the side of the ferry rose high and white outside her window like the open mouth of a huge robot whale. She didn't want to get out of the car when Karen opened the door. Karen sighed and reached over to undo the seatbelt. When Mary stood on the cold metal floor of the ferry she could feel it shaking. So noisy! And the air seemed cold and bright and hard like being in a diamond. She felt small and squishy in this big loud metal space. It was a relief when Dale gripped her hand "Stay together kids. Let's go find some lunch!"
Under her feet wouldn't stop swaying and dipping, which made it tricky climbing the steep metal stair up from the car bit. She put her hand on the wall, which was shaking too. Jake was scrambling up as if he hadn't noticed. "Can we have icecream?" he panted and Karen chuckled. "Not seasick then? That's my boy!" said Dale from behind Mary. She tried to be brave, like Jake.
A seagull was standing on some white metal bars watching her. When she stared back, it turned its head so it looked at Mary out of one eye, then the other. It had yellow eyes. Although it was bigger than any bird she had seen in the garden, and had a big fierce yellow beak, this bird did not seem scary. Suddenly it put back its head and shouted "Go!Go Go! Go Mary!" and laughed