"Hakuna Matata" Short Story
Falling asleep wasn’t going to be easy.
Not just because of the more-than-slightly overweight guy named Craig from Mississippi (Mrs M, Mrs I, Mrs S, S, I, Mrs S, S, I, Mrs, P, P, I) who is snoring against the now vibrating glass divider as a string of drool dripped slowly towards his side of the armrest. I didn’t even need to see him chug 15 of those cheap airline mini-whiskey bottles. I can almost smell him through my Built-in Barrier Mask. But it’s not just Craig’s fault that I can’t sleep, although I’ll let him shoulder 65%... nah… 45% of the blame. The rest is all on me.
I can’t sleep because I am the luckiest girl in the woooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooorld. Urgh. The plane just did one of those bouncing things and my stomach met my soft palate.
I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I’m going on vacation after the absolute shitshow that was 2020 – 2031. In just under 4 hours, I’ll dive into 3 weeks of bliss off the East Coast of Africa on a little Island called Zanzibar. Cocktails. Sandy beaches. Sunshine. All the clichés you can imagine. The population of Zanzibar used to sit at around the 1 million mark, but now it’s at around 600,000 since, well, you know. But if you consider that the USA went from 380 million to 190 million after COVID-26, Zanzibar should be proud that it was able to protect its people. It’s going to be so quiet and so restful, which I suppose one of the bright sides of this unintentional population control.
My luck doesn’t end there. This trip, this dream trip, was an absolute bargain – the likes of which I haven’t seen since the crash of 20-whatever. I still can’t believe that I was the one who managed to scoop it up.
I was on the couch.
Twitter News was on low in the background and I was re-watching The Queen’s Gambit for the 100th time. Suddenly an ad appeared. Normally I blink them away after the 5 second mark, because they block my vision of the screen, but something made me read this one. My luck, I guess. Someone was selling their all-inclusive vacation ticket because they had family responsibilities that meant they weren’t suitable for the experience. That’s what happens when you book at a no-kids resort and think you’ll get them to change the rules for you. I don’t play loosey goosey with my stipend, but I couldn’t get it off my mind (or my eyeline) so I bookmarked it for later. $1000 for an all-inclusive three week trip? Obviously, I wanted it. But I didn’t have that sort of cash lying around, not that I’d seen actual cash in years, but that’s not the point.
Days later, I was waiting in the queue at my local Health and Survival facility to get my weekly immune booster. This old guy, like really old, probably around 50 or 51 years or so – well, he limped over to me and long story short, he’d missed his booster the week before. He wanted to buy my shot off me so he could get back to his state in time for his next shot. Now I’m not usually one for breaking the law, but he offered me $2500. I’ve heard about these geriatrics. They have wealth from The Before and they splash it around when they need to so they can keep going. I’m young. Healthy. And I just had my Built-in Barrier Mask installed, which is meant to keep you safe for a couple of weeks. For once in my life I thought that I could do something just for me. I took his money, sold him my spot, went back home and booked myself a ticket to Zanzibar.
I woke as we bounced again – this time on land.
I’d managed to fall asleep despite my excitement and Craig from Mississippi (Mrs M, Mrs I, Mrs S, S, I, Mrs S, S, I, Mrs, P, P, I). I walked off the plane, through the Decontamination Zone, and into the bright sunshine and fresh island air - I felt my worries fade away.
“Jambo! Hambari Gani? Hakuna Matata!” said an attendant, which my auto-translate told me meant “Hello! How are you? There are no worries!” I replied, “I’m fine, thank you”, which came out my mouth as “Mzuri, asante sana!”
I found my way to the Baggage Collection, where you give in your name and they hand you a suitcase filled clothes, make up, swimwear, sanitary wear. Anything that you’d need for your trip, since you aren’t allowed to bring bags on airplanes anymore. It’s always exciting to see what gets assigned to you after you fill in the Q&A. With my brand new, bright red suitcase in hand, I strolled lazily (I’m on vacation you know) to the car port to find my pre-booked ride. “Jambo! Hambari Gani? Hakuna Matata!” said the car. “Mzuri, asante sana!”, said I.
The hotel was everything I could have imagined. And more. Back in the day they would have called this Insta-worthy. I can imagine countless tourists taking selfies in the jungle themed entrance as they waited to check in. I can see them sitting on the giant swing that makes you look tiny. And picture them standing on the glass step that makes it look like you’re floating in the air. These days, we don’t take photos. And if we do, we don’t share them. Why would you want people knowing where you are and what you are doing? Creepy.
I walked to the reception, ready to get to my suite, and let the relaxation begin.
“Jambo! Hambari Gani? Hakuna Matata!” said the old man at the desk.
“Mzuri, asante sana!”, I replied, used to this song and dance by now.
“We’re so lucky to have you here,” he continued, “the person who had booked your suite couldn’t make it work and we were so very disappointed.”
“Lucky me”, I told him, “it’s funny, you look so familiar. Just like someone I’ve met before, but I can’t place you at all.”
“That is strange” the old man said as he limped around the reception desk, “now let’s go to your room to find your mate. It’s time we repopulated the island”.
This story was inspired by Reedsy Creative Writing weekly prompt: Write about someone who books a bargain vacation, only to be told when they arrive that they need to share a hotel suite with a stranger. Find my original submission here: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/drama/write-about-someone-who-books-a-bargain-vacation-o/