It might have been 5am, but inside the brightly lit airport it could have been anytime. Except for the sleepyheads twisted uncomfortably on the hard grey chairs. A mother gently caresses her dozing childs hair, her eyes defocused and gazing at some faraway place. I glance up flight AA987 is still on time.
Bored I go for a wander around the outskirts of the closed shops, there’s nothing I need, but I long to caress expensive leather and sniff its tangy fragrance or ask an idle shop assistant to recommend a new lipstick. Too much time to think that’s my problem. Always early, I stayed up all night to make sure I would be here on time, only to arrive 2 hours before I needed. What I really need is a book to read, something to distract the whirlwind in my mind. The noise inside my head is like a tumble driers annoying hum. My packed books are awaiting boarding, having foolishly left them in my suitcase. At least Smiths is starting to open and I can read something else, but what? 3 months of sitting at home with little more to do than read has left me thirsty for more enthralling stories. I have become adept at hurling trashy novels in the fire. Though in fairness it has been my mood rather than the books that got the better of me.
It was they said, delayed stress. Delayed by 2 years, it seemed off, but after a year of little sleep, I simply collapsed at work. Rest and drugs were prescribed and so I succumbed.
Mum rang every day, just to check, she said. She couldn’t come as dad was too ill and had refused to have a nurse. So here I was at the airport waiting to board a plane to Spain. The nagging had paid off, I was to be looked after properly.
The books all looked bland and uninteresting, morphing one title into another. I aimlessly dragged my finger along the spines, pictures danced, but none cried out to me. I could feel frustration welling up inside of me and turning to escape, my bag caught the corner of a book. It crashed like me to the floor, no one noticed. The spotty man behind the counter continued to examine his nose debris. The sleepers slept. The cover bright on the grey lifeless floor caught my eye. Red and yellow like a flag. I mused that the colours reminded me of the country I was visiting. A sign like all other signs. I picked up the book, my finger slipped inside page 151. Curious I read the words “ he was not sure if she had forgiven him for the incident with Olana”. Shaking my head a wry smile crept over my tired face. A timely reminder of how tight my jaw was.
What was it I wondered about me and unfaithfulness. Even as I thought it, I saw them together. Betrayal. I pulled the open book to my nose and sniffed. Just paper and ink.
There was suddenly something compelling about this book, Half of a yellow sun. That’s how the sun was that day, like half a lemon sinking behind a still sea. Tranquil.
They had been peaceful too, lying in each others arms asleep, a roaring fire, candles and discarded wine glasses. My husband and a stranger. I certainly learned the hard way not to turn up unannounced. Although it was my house too.
I turned to the last page, hungry for a happy ending. “Our people say that we all re-incarnate, don’t they?” A cold shiver went down my spine. I hoped not. I didn’t want to come back and I certainly hoped that Brad and Jane, that was her name, wouldn’t be heading back to planet Earth anytime soon. It transpired they had met that day, she was known for her casual acquaintances and was always hot for other women’s men. Hot they certainly were as the flames flicked and danced over their comatose bodies.
On a whim I bought the book and settled into my cold hard chair. In just 5 hours I would be with my family, safe once more.