'The girl at the airport' by Hugh Redland

I shuffle forward along the aisle, awaiting my turn. The queue caterpillars forward. The stewardess smiles wearily as passengers descend the steps. As I leave the plane I draw in the fresh, damp air of Heathrow. It is good to stretch my tired legs after such a long flight.

I pass through security and onto baggage reclaim. The conveyor belt alarms into action.

Then I notice her. She is on the other side of the conveyor belt. She waits patiently for her bags.

She is wearing a long-sleeved top with dark blue hoops and rolled up baggy trousers that expose boyish black shoes. Her handbag is heavy, a dead weight hanging off her forearm. Her wavy hair is tied up like a small pineapple.

My bag arrives as she picks hers up. I follow her through customs and into the welcoming light of the Arrivals hall. She spots someone waiting. From the way she runs to him, face alight, I guess he’s her boyfriend. He is wearing rolled up dark blue jeans that have a silver shimmer to them. His mousy brown hair is foppish yet smartly combed to one side.

She is affectionate, handling her man with care. She holds his arm as she draws close to his face. She glances my way, sees me looking as I pause for a moment. I feel fleetingly jealous of their closeness and look away.

Her lips are the deepest red, clinging onto her femininity like the talons of an eagle in its prey. She kisses him on his stubbly face, withdraws and wipes the lipstick away from his cheek.

She laughs. A light-hearted laugh that he responds with a big smile.

She kisses him again, but this time she glances my way as she plants her lips on his cheek. She holds the kiss, still glancing my way as if boasting about her prize. She returns to resting her hand on his forearm. Is she looking at me? She puts on a leather jacket with a red heart and 'Love is in the air' written in cursive silver letters on its back. She would be straight out of the 80s with her tomboy look, I think.

They walk out to their lives, hand in hand. Miserable, I drift back into the anonymous crowd never to see her again.

Comments

  1. Love the thought of a queue as a caterpillar! Shame not to have more time in the baggage hall before she sees her boyfriend.

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