Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Arrivals Lounge













A plane landed and a man in a scruffy coat leaned forward and wondered if this was the one. People got off and walked into the large, gleaming white terminal, where they were either met by others (some in tears but everyone smiling) or if no one was there to greet them, they looked around, shrugged, sat down in one of the long rows of aluminum chairs and either listened to music or read a book or just stared off into the distance in the kind of shell shock that normally comes from long distance travel. Several made phone calls. One, for whatever strange reason, tried to go back through the gate, to get back on the plane. Security, gently, held him at bay.

The old man had seen it all before but he didn't mind waiting. He'd gotten quite good at it. There were exactly 128 chairs in terminal D. The roof had exactly 864 crisscrossing tiles. The planes landed every 11 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. He knew. He'd had enough time to count. He read the paper. It was always the same paper, but each day, there was always a different story about someone he knew on the front page.

Exactly 11 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds later, he was too absorbed in the paper and the lullaby of the announcer coming over the terminal speakers to notice the small, diminutive female form standing next to him.

"Hello." She said.

He looked up from his paper.

"I think I know you."

"Yes, I think you do." He replied.

"You once swapped your last packet of cigarettes for a bicycle, in the middle of the war, then rode it for five hours to see me."

"I think that was me. I can't remember. I think we ran a grocery store together. I remember cobblestone streets and a newsagent next door. The children would buy comic books. There was a harbour."

"I think that happened."

There was a silence.

"How was your flight?" he finally asked.

"Good. There was some turbulence towards the end but other than that it was fine."

She rubbed her arms.

"Did you get everything done that you needed to do?"

"Quite a bit. Most of it I think."

"Well, that's all you can really ask for."

"I suppose so. The tea was nice."

"That's good then." He said with a smile.

"Are we supposed to get a taxi now?"

"No, not yet I don't think."

"Then what do we do?"

He cleared some space next to him on the aluminum chair then took his coat off and scrunched it up to make a pillow.

"I think we're meeting someone."

"Oh. Will we have to wait long?"

"No. Not in the greater scheme of things. They serve tea, just ask for one when the woman comes round with the tray."

"Is it good?"

"The best you've ever tasted."

By the time the next plane landed, she'd fallen asleep on his shoulder.

39 comments:

Jen said...

I'm supposed to land there too some day.

fatima said...

awwww-
that's one sweeeeet piece

hpfan12 said...

I didn't understand why the person tried to get back onto the plane...

Anonymous said...

It made me think of Inception

Anonymous said...

are they dead? or in a hospital?

Brittany said...

I read this as if it were a script.

Wonderful.

Anonymous said...

i hope someone like him is waiting when i land...

FeverDream said...

i can only hope that it's like that. i can only hope that i have found someone that sweet. <3 i'll wait for you at the finish, if you'll wait for me.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the song Recessional by Vienna Teng.

Anonymous said...

Green tea me baby.

Anonymous said...

I'll wait forever here with you. Me.

Anonymous said...

Why have you not published a novel yet? Get on it!!

Angela said...

To be completely honest, this is the first blog post of yours that I actually don't understand. I mean, I'm kind of there but not really, I think I'm getting the message of the story.
The story is just, beautiful. Wouldn't expect anything less from you :)

Me said...

My grandmother passed away several days ago. This is for her and my grandfather as she's joined him, wherever he's been waiting for her.

Anonymous said...

If death is like this, I don't mind dying (at least not that much.)

Anonymous said...

I hope this is what it really is like; I hope when I land there's someone waiting for me...all those loved ones that went before me, I hope they'll be waiting for us.

This person said...

I didn't understand it until I read the comments. Unless I simply misinterpreted it. If that's the case, then I'm sorry. I'm really sorry.

But I wonder if this is what one version of heaven could look like.

Anonymous said...

I was so hoping that one day you would wait for me...but you have decided to move onto the next, I can only hold near to my heart what we had for such a brief time..even if it was only in my heart and mind...

Broken

Jes said...

This is very touching.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss.
The post makes a lot more sense to me, and it's so beautiful. I absolutely love this one. Now I've got to go back and read it over again.

I am said...

the sweetest thing ^^

Anonymous said...

Someday your pain will ease,
sadness replaced by fond memories
Come tomorrow you will hear
I love you whispered on the breeze.

You will never lose the love <3

zonedin said...

It's like "Waiting for Godot" with a twist. I love the tea and head on the shoulder sleeping~,~

eccentricerrant said...

I've got freaking goosebumps, Iain. lovely

Anonymous said...

I just want to cry and stay up with you all night. You know how to save a life.

Randomhyper. said...

Terminal D as in death?

I love airports and terminals. If this is how death will be, I'm not afraid anymore.

becomingherself said...

The cigarettes/bicycle detail is so very lovely. Understated, but at the heart of the whole piece.

Creatiia said...

this made me cry. :( so beautiful

calm interlude said...

Sorry for your loss, but do you mind me asking about the 864 chairs or are they just chairs? (and I'm not exactly sure about the 11:59:59 but I think I sort of have an idea about it)

Pencubit said...

Somehow, this made my day. Thank you :)

Erin said...

This reminds me of parts of Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, except happier.

Anonymous said...

And Forever, He walked out of our lives...

Anonymous said...

And forever, He walked out of our lives...

klara said...

Surreal

- - said...

Brilliant. Beautifully pictured. :)

Juané said...

I must say, this is probably my favourite. Reminds me a lot of my favourite Safran-Foer book. EL&IC <3.

Candice said...

this gave me shivers and put tears in my eyes.
the way you use words is magic.

Candice said...

this gave me shivers and put tears in my eyes.
the way you use words is magic.

Moonstone said...

I know I'm late to see this and many others, but it is amazing.

I hope that this has meaning to many people as it does for me...