Waiting. Shifting my weight from foot to foot.
Trying to stay relaxed, trying to “be cool”. I’ve done this before, no big deal, not to me. I’m continental, worldly, relaxed in this environment of jetsetters.
I look around as the crowd slowly arrives, sauntering towards the meeting point. I edge forward slowly, a half pace here, a shuffled step there, trying to maintain my line of sight, maximise MY chances, screw everyone else.
We are all thinking the same. Me first. Not them. Me. I deserve. Me.
Children run around, swing from the barriers and annoy nervous parents. Elderly couples sip tea to give themselves something to concentrate on whilst a businessman, too important to bother with such humdrum reality, consults his laptop and pretends to ignore it all, we responded and pointedly ignore him for we know he is faking, we know he too is excited, impatient, waiting.
Suddenly the doors slide open! A man pushing a mop saunters through, oblivious. The collective sigh and shuffle, trying to gain that extra space, anything and everything to minimise the time between now and then.
I edge forward slowly.
It’s getting busier, the noise level rising. People shouting down phones, eyes straining at the screens above, waiting for the briefest of confirmations. Landed at 1432. The screen flicks through the pages as more people arrive. Strolling nonchalantly their gaze betrays them as they frantically scan the crowds, necks craning to gain a better view. They are one of us now, one of the waiting.
I edge forward slowly.
The babble continues when, near the doors a head pauses and turns, reacting to sound. The trundle of a trolley, a laugh, footsteps click clack through the echo of a long corridor. Still faint but growing louder, the conversations descend, faltering, as we all turn to watch. Waiting, waiting, wanting. The echo becomes sound, louder still and then the doors slide open.
We move forward, unthinking, involuntary, scanning the faces as they scan ours. A hundred faces meet a hundred more, each one frantic, looking and looking, waiting and wanting. Every face is wrong, every face rejected, not her, not her, not her.
Then, instantly, the rabble dissolves, the kilter of the world is righted, and everything is calm. Silence falls and the light changes.
She is home.