Breaking through the clouds, tilting towards the sun
by Neil Baker
The queue for the check-in desk coils its way through the steaming departure hall, simmering like an angry snake. I think we have arrived too early. You say we are too late. The electronic notice board announces our flight’s delay. I knew it, I say.
You turn to me and say this: If you’d known, you should have said.
You use this phrase a lot.
We want a drink but have spent all our currency. So we sit in the airless airport bar and wonder. You think, how can it still smell of cigarette smoke, when nobody can smoke inside? I think the same thing.
Through the glittering glass and steel I watch planes emerge in the marine sky like sparkling fish coming to the surface of the sea. Their lights are diamond eyes.
I think about the walk we took through the old town. The ground under our feet was melting. I lost you in a shop that sold woven baskets and jewellery made of shells. I did look for you.
Children run about barking and scratching. They get in the way of people pushing trolleys, people saying goodbye, people who are delayed. Their parents become agitated.
I check my boarding pass again. We wait. I reach for the book in my bag and find the villa key. I should have returned it. I run a secret finger down its serrated spine. I tell you that I need some air.
I speak enough of the local language to tell the taxi driver where to drop me. Over there, by that tree. I stand across the road from the villa, in the shade where you and I stood an hour earlier, loading our bags into the boot of the hire car.
The agent who showed us around arrives. She opens the wooden doors that lead to the walled garden, the geraniums in pots, the cacti and roses. I imagine I can smell the jasmine again.
A hire car pulls up. A newly arrived family: Mum and Dad, two children. One boy, one girl. The woman wears a delicate white dress that matches her yet to be tanned skin. She kisses the letting agent once on each cheek.
The children, eager for the pool, run into the garden. Their parents pause on the threshold. He reaches out a hand and brushes the tips of her fingers. She rests a hand on his hip.
Later that day, above that house, that garden, that man, his wife, our plane will climb, breaking through the clouds, tilting towards the sun, its engines screaming.
Neil Baker is a widely published writer of short stories and flash fiction. He lives in Sussex, England. He blogs at HERE and tweets via @neilbaker.
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