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Ashes splattered everywhere.Ten-year-old Ashley White watched as the lava poured down the black volcano. Sweat mixed with tears ran down her face. Ashley was high up safe in a helicopter. Her parents had died in the eruption along with her little sister, Kay. She stared blankly at the volcano.
“Let’s just get out of here.” Ashley told RJ Henson, the helicopter pilot. “Roger that” he replied and steered the rescue chopper away from the darkness.
10 hours and 6 fuel and food stops later RJ landed the chopper at Auckland International Airport. Mt Ruapehu had erupted so Ashley was a large, safe distance away. Ashley climbed out of the helicopter and looked around with an amazed look on her face.
The airport was a huge, white building with plenty of long runways. The building was the terminal and it had 2 large, glass sails on top of it. Ashley’s jaw dropped with a thud.
“Sure it’s been a disastrous day but I’ve never seen this airport and it’s beautiful.” Ashley exclaimed very loudly.
“You’ve never been here?” RJ asked. Ashley shot him her best come-on-you-know-better-than-that look.
“Ok, sorry, whatever!” Was RJ’s reply.
For the next forty-five minutes Ashley and RJ went around looking for a pay phone to call RJ’s wife, Laureen. Before long Ashley spotted one by an electronics store. RJ stuffed two dollars into the machine, punched in his home phone number then patiently waited for Laureen to pick up the phone. “Hello, Laureen speaking.”
“Hey it’s me, RJ. I’m calling from the airport. I’m with Ashley-” RJ said into the receiver.
“Is she alright? I certainly hope you take good care of her.” Laureen sounded really worried.
“Laureen, relax Ok? Ashley will be fine with me. We are going to have to play parent for her though.”
“Why?” Laureen asked.
RJ told her all about Ashley’s parents in the eruption. “Oh my gosh. Can I speak to Ashley?”
“Sure. I’ll pass her on.” RJ gave the phone to Ashley.
“Hi Laureen. Is it ok that I stay with you?”
“Ashley, are you ok? Now Laureen sounded really worried. Ashley sighed deeply.
“Now you sound like a control freak. Relax I’m fine, ok?”
“That’s no way to treat your guardian!” Laureen exclaimed. Ashley smiled at RJ. Now she was going to live with them!

RJ had gotten very curious. “What is my wife saying to you?”
He snatched the phone away from Ashley’s grip.
“What are saying to Ashley?” RJ asked his wife.
“Please enter another two dollars for another ten minutes.” Said a voice coming from the pay phone.
“Oh!” RJ and Ashley complained in unison.
The pair of them started to walk around the airport, looking for something to do because Ashley felt upset about her parents and she wanted to get it off her mind. In the end, RJ and Ashley just got a cab and went home.
“Laureen! Let us in!” RJ called to his wife. Laureen came rushing to the door.
“Sorry. I forgot to unlock the door!” she said as the others came inside. RJ, Ashley and Laureen sat by the fire with blankets around them and hot chocolate in their hands.
“We’re pathetic.” Ashley sighed. She had previously had a long day so this she found very relaxing.
“No we’re not, Ashley.” Laureen replied.
“Can we go shopping to get some stuff for me tomorrow?” Ashley asked. She had said this because she had lived on Mt Ruapehu so all her stuff was burned.
“Sure Ashley. What time is your job interview?” RJ asked Laureen.
“9:00am sharp.” Laureen replied. She was trying to get a job as a receptionist for a primary school.
“If Laureen gets this job you will go to this school.” RJ explained to Ashley carefully.
“RJ, can you take Ashley shopping?” Laureen asked RJ.
“I’m going to bed. I’m really tired.” Ashley said.
“Good night!” RJ and Laureen said in unison.
That night Ashley couldn’t sleep. She kept tossing and turning. Ashley stopped and stared at the ceiling. ‘I really miss Mum and Dad but I’ve got some awesome caregivers. What if my new school has parent days and things like that?’ she thought. She was really anxious.
The next morning, Ashley went into the kitchen to get breakfast. When she opened the cupboard door, RJ came around the corner.
“Morning RJ.” Ashley said, rolling her eyes.
“How did you know it was me? I was hoping to scare you!” RJ asked her.
“I just did. RJ, where’s the milk?” Ashley asked, a little annoyed. He gave her the milk when Laureen rushed in.
“Morning guys. Would talk but I’m late!” she said as she grabbed a piece of toast off RJ’s plate. She gave RJ a peck on the cheek then ran out the door. Ashley couldn’t stop laughing after RJ said “Hey, she’s a toast thief!”

That morning Ashley had to wear what she was wearing yesterday because she had no other clothes! ‘I can’t wait to get some clean clothes on!’ she thought. Ashley started to think about wearing brand new clothes. She was still day-dreaming when RJ poked his head around the corner and said “Ashley! Snap out of it. It’s time to go!”
In the car, Ashley turned to RJ and asked “When we’re at the shopping centre, can we have something to eat?”
“Sure. Do you want some sushi?” He asked her. Ashley nodded then stared out the window. Bring, bring. RJ’s phone began to ring. “Hello, RJ speaking.”
“Hi RJ. It’s me, Laureen.” She sounded excited.
“So how’d it go?” Now he was excited!
“I’ll come to the mall that you are at but what one are you at and where is it?” she asked. RJ gave her all the details about the shopping centre then they hang up.
About twenty minutes later RJ and Ashley met up with Laureen at a clothing store. They went in and gave Ashley some clothes to try on. When she came out of the dressing room for the forth time, Ashley was wearing the most gorgeous dress that she had ever seen. It was a loose ankle-length red halter-neck dress covered in sparkling sequins.
“Oh my gosh Ashley! Where did you find that?” Laureen asked.
“I didn’t find this, RJ did. He said that it would be necessary for special occasions like birthdays and parties.” Ashley told her.
“Go get changed into those jeans and that top I bought you. We’ll get some ice-cream. RJ is going to get this for you and I’m going to get you some pyjamas.” Laureen said.
About five minutes later, Ashley met the others at the counter. She followed them to the ice-cream stand in the middle of the mall. “I’ll have an Icy Surprise, please.” Her favourite ice-cream. As they sat down, RJ asked Laureen if she got the job. “Ok I’ll tell you. I have some thing for you Ashley.” She said as handed Ashley a piece of paper. The piece of paper was an enrolment form for the school Laureen was trying to get a job at!
“You got the job! This is an enrolment form for that school!” Ashley screamed.
“Let me see that.” RJ snatched the form away from Ashley’s grip.
“Congratulations Laureen you got it! You got the job!” RJ was as excited as Ashley and Laureen. He started to jump. Up and down, up and down like a rollercoaster! Ashley gave him a strange look. She buried her face in her hands and sighed deeply.

“Well let’s go home because I have something that you might like more than the job” RJ told Laureen. On the way home, Laureen got a bit confused.
‘What would I like more than the job I just got?’ she thought whilst staring out the window.
“Are you alright?” RJ asked her.
“Yeah, I’m fine” she assured him slowly. RJ gave her a puzzled look.
Finally, they all arrived home, safe and sound. Ashley, RJ and Laureen gathered by the fire, talking about Ashley’s new stuff. Shoes, pants, tops, skirts and dresses. When Ashley brought up the red dress, RJ stood up. As quick as a flash, he ran down the hall and pulled a small box out of a shopping bag. Laureen and Ashley traded confused glances.
He sprinted back to the lounge where the other two were.
“Why are you running around, RJ?” Laureen asked him.
“Well, as you know it is our wedding anniversary next week.” RJ said to her.
“Yeah?” Laureen was quite confused now.
“So I was thinking, um we should do something really special and I have a special present for you!” He said to her as he handed her the soft, velvet box. Inside, there was a 5 carat diamond ring!
“RJ, this is an incredible gift. I will see if we could go to Fiji for our anniversary and of course Ashley will come too!” Laureen replied happily. Ashley grinned at the happy couple. Suddenly, they all started laughing so hard that they began to cry.
“I guess we will be very busy in the next week, planning a wedding anniversary for you two, right?” Ashley said through her laughter and her tears!
“Hmm let me think. YES!” RJ said in reply. They all pulled themselves together again. Everything went silent. All of a sudden, Ashley burst into conversation.
“Hey Laureen, when do I go to school?” She asked.
“Oh-no! Ashley is right. She is going to school on Monday!” Laureen cried.
“And you have to go to work!” RJ exclaimed. They all sighed deeply.
“Hey, don’t worry. I’ll look online for flights and accommodation for Fiji when I have sometime to myself at work.” Laureen said.
“And I’ll look online as well here.” RJ agreed.
“Family hug!” Ashley shouted. They all gave each other big hugs!

Monday had arrived. Ashley walked slowly through the school gates and down the stairs. Lots of people around her were whispering stuff to each other like:
“Look at that new girl!”
and “She will never fit in here!”. Hearing this made Ashley nervous.
“Hi! I’m Katherine. What is your name?” A tall, blonde girl ran up to Ashley.
“Ashley. My guardian works in the office, Mrs Henson?” She replied quietly.
“Oh, yeah! I hope you are in my class.” Katherine said, grinning at Ashley.
“I hope I fit in here!” Ashley said. The two of them giggled. Ding dong! The bell rang and Ashley with her new friend, Katherine walked to the classroom.
The day ran perfectly. Ashley played with Katherine and met lots of new people. That evening, RJ, Laureen and Ashley sat in the lounge, by the fire.
“Do you like your new school?” RJ asked Ashley.
“Yeah! I met a girl called Katherine.” She replied.
“I booked a holiday for us in Fiji!” Laureen exclaimed! “We are going in two weeks!”
The next week, on Friday, Ashley told Katherine about her real parents.
“My mum and dad died a week and a half ago. They got killed in the Mt Ruapehu eruption with my little sister, Kay.” She said.
“Wow, I’m sorry to hear that.” Katherine replied.
Finally, the weekend past and the day to go to Fiji came. Ashley was glad to be back at the airport but it also brang back bad memories. She grinned at RJ.
“Are you excited?” He asked her.
“Yeah! This is the first time I’ve left New Zealand!” Ashley exclaimed. They hauled their luggage onto the conveyer belt. Laureen, RJ and Ashley sat on some chairs in the departure lounge.
“All departures to Fiji on flight 3718 flying Pacific Airlines, please go to gate 5.” Came a voice from the loudspeaker.
“That’s us!” Laureen said. Ashley clutched her carry-on bag. It contained a photograph of her family in a special wallet that her little sister, Kay gave her when she was still alive. Ashley took care of the wallet because she had it with her on the day of eruption so it was the only thing that she had from her family.
“C’mon. Let’s get on the plane.” RJ said. Once they boarded, a lady offered to put the carry-on bags in a special cupboard.
“No thank-you. I would really like to keep hold of this bag!” Ashley said quickly. RJ gave her a strange look. Ashley nodded at him and he remembered about the photo.

“This is going to be great fun!” Laureen said. Ashley rolled her eyes. RJ had told her that Laureen went crazy when she goes over seas.
“So this is what happens!” Ashley said.
“Yeah, unfortunately!” RJ said. Ashley giggled as she fiddled with her seat-belt. “This is your captain speaking…” The captain carried on with his never-ending speech. The take-off began. The extremely loud plane lifted of the ground and into the air. The captain then said that any-one on the plane could take off their seat-belts.
“Have you guys been to Fiji?” Ashley asked.
“I went there when I was a boy.” RJ said. He grinned ridiculously. Before long, after many conversations, the captain started to speak again:
“Excuse me passengers. Please buckle your seat-belts as we are about to land.” As quickly as possible, Ashley sat in her seat and did up her belt.
It was a bumpy landing but Laureen, RJ and Ashley arrived in Fiji safely.
“Whoa, this place is amazing!” Ashley exclaimed. After they collected their luggage and got to the hotel, they whisked up a plan.
“How about if I check us in while-” RJ began.
“While Ashley and I check that our luggage isn’t damaged.” Laureen completed the sentence.
“Then we can unpack and-” Ashley began.
“CHECK OUT THE BEACHES!” They all completed!
It was later that evening. Ashley was chasing RJ along the beach with the sounds of the waves crashing against the ocean surface. Laughter rang in Ashley’s ears.
“Let’s go back for that barbecue you promised.” Laureen said to RJ.
“Since when did I promised a barbecue?” RJ protested.
“Since we got here!” Ashley commented. RJ frowned. Laureen and Ashley giggled. As they were walking back, Ashley clutched the wallet. She opened it and glanced down at the photo. As she looked up, she saw two parents with what looked like their daughter. They looked really happy together as a family. Ashley looked closer. To Ashley, they looked like her family. She shook her head. She must have been hallucinating. Ashley looked again, this time even closer.
“Hey, Ashley? That looks like your family.” RJ said to her. He knew her father because they were best friends.
The family noticed Ashley and ran up to her.
“Ashley?” The little girl asked. Ashley instantly knew that it was Kay. Tears came to their eyes.
“I thought you died in the eruption!” Ashley said to her sister while hugging her really tight.
“Mum and Dad thought that about you!” Kay cried. Ashley looked at her parents. They nodded.
“I really missed you” Her father said. About an hour later, the two couples were talking to each other at the barbecue while Ashley and Kay stood on the balcony, talking about finding each other. Kay told Ashley that another helicopter rescued their mum, dad and Kay.
“It’s such a coincidence that we are both on Fiji at the same time.” Kay said.
“Yeah but I’m happy that we’re together.” Ashley replied.
“Yeah but we’re best friends and sisters, right big sis?” Kay asked
“Right lil’ sis!” Ashley answered!
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