I’m sitting at the gate, waiting for boarding to start. Well, I’m waiting for the plane to arrive so that boarding can start. In a truly wonderful feat of organisation, the gate number was called before the plane got here, so now I’m sitting on my suitcase, one of hundreds of sardines trapped in an overcrowded tin. Every flight is overbooked, tempers are frayed. Too many people don’t want to be here, don’t want to be going ‘home’.
I haven’t quite worked out how I feel about leaving London. The city that has been my home for the last few years, the city that no longer wants me – despite the many protestations on Twitter. After all, the whole point was to stop freedom of movement. So move on one final time, and don’t come back. You’ll find no freedom here.
Of course, the country is in chaos, the letter telling me to get out of the country followed almost immediately by the announcement telling me they don’t know when we’ll be able to fly. It’s like living in a film, except you can’t turn it off if you’re not enjoying it. You’re stuck with it, for ever. Or at least until the next vote, whenever that is. At this rate we’ll be back in soon enough, only to leave again after the next election. The division of the people played out for all to see.
My mum rings me as I’m returning from the toilet, cursing the fact that there’s still no loo roll. She wants an update on my journey, she’s meant to be meeting me at the airport. I don’t know, Mum, it’ll be a while. I’ll text you when I’m on the plane, OK? She sounds frustrated, like I’ve ruined her evening. Spoiled her plans. Doesn’t she know that a whole lot of people have more problems right now than getting to their knitting circle on time?
I get my book out but I can’t concentrate. The girl next to me is crying, her mother too. We strike up a halting conversation. She’s going home to her parents as well. Except she hasn’t spoken to them in years, her daughter has never met them and she has no desire to go back to the country she left for good reason. But there’s no choice, she can’t remain here. You’re a citizen of nowhere now.
Eventually, they tell us the plane isn’t coming, the flight is cancelled, we can’t stay here all night. I storm out. I’m not even welcome in the one place that can put me back where they want me. In the city, I wander the rain-filled streets. I hear the faint noise of a party, though I can’t see where it’s coming from. I look around helplessly, until a hand grabs my arm. A warm smile, a tiny wink, a gesture of encouragement. A tell-tale streak of blue hair underneath the girl’s ponytail lets me know that tonight, at least, I’ll be among friends.
This week’s prompt was ‘delay’. My story has quite clearly been inspired by a particular political event that is in the news a lot at the moment and is very close to my heart, but Matt Gardner took a very different approach with his – check it out on his blog over at fuzzyfiction.com/stories/clogged.