*apologies for not updating -- it's been a crazy year and I toyed with the idea of doing away with blogging. obviously I decided against it. will definitely be more regular, or more sharing, with the writing now!*
She was seated by the window, looking out onto the horizon of the city she’d made home. One last time. A book lay in her lap
along with the green cardigan she’d taken off. It was warm by Scottish standards. Her eyes hadn’t left the window after she sat down.
When the air hostess came around, the girl smiled politely and declined the snack. She asked for water in clear English. Her nose was bright red, brown eyes watery. A tissue lay on the book she’d tried to read for a few minutes.
The head of black hair turned back to the window. The luggage had been deposited in the aircraft by little vehicles she didn’t know the name of, which had begun to back away from the plane. There were the familiar blue and white signs of Scotland’s bank. Her bank for two years.
The sky was a perfect clear blue with some puffs of perfect cotton. Sometimes Edinburgh’s weather made up for the days of endless grey skies, rolling clouds and gusts of rainy wind. Her eyes grew watery again.
As the aircraft began moving, she held on tightly to her arm-rest, her mind reeling from the things she’d forgotten to tell people and places she didn’t have time to see. And as the wheels left Scottish ground, she stopped breathing.
Soon Edinburgh was miles below her. She tried to look for familiar hills and spots. Then she just stared as long as she could. Before clouds came between her and the view of the city.
‘It’s over,’ she told herself. ‘Let it go. You’ll come back.’ And she promised herself she’d come back. And if she ever had a child, which was unlikely, she would bring him or her too. Somehow, her visions of her future self never included a man. Even if there was a child. Her friends were still in her life, more important than ever. But she didn’t know if she could ever keep a man that long. So it was just her. And her friends. Maybe a child too. Who knows.
When they landed in Heathrow and she had to make her way to another terminal, there were fewer ‘foreign’ faces. And when she walked into the terminal after getting her boarding pass, she stopped breathing again. She was just another face in a sea of cocoa-coloured faces.
Babies were crying, children running around and dropping things, families were talking loudly. Duty free shops were crowded – people bought liquor, cigarettes, picked up chocolate for their lovers. Only the book shop remained deserted. The little W H Smith she spent thirty minutes in.
She looked back at the sea of faces. She didn’t even dress like them anymore. Her English was always without a local accent, now it was even less Indian. She wasn’t ready to go home.
Her phone buzzed somewhere in the recesses of her purple carry-on. Her best friend, the girl who saved her from loneliness in cold, windy Scotland. When Scotland still seemed cold to her.
She felt bad about her discomfort but knew she could tell her Dutch friend. If they were together she’d have been explaining the similarities in Terminal Four to an Indian airport, accompanied by many loud cackles.
The knot in her chest returned. A long text message told her that she’d left her boots, why, and that a roll of old toilet paper had been sneezed and sniffed into after her departure, that the big bumbling American room-mate had actually made himself useful and cleaned the windows so they could move out and not have to worry about not getting the deposit back. She read that she was missed, and that her boots would be worn to death.
Somehow the prospect of an old boyfriend didn’t make her happy anymore. Nor the tropical sunshine she’d missed for a year, and the home-made food. She knew she’d miss the cheese and milk, sausages, ale, and the tall, charming boys from different parts of the world. Why hadn’t she let her hair down, allowed one of the slurring Scots to take her home? Why was she holding out for someone she barely knew? Where would she walk, the way she did in Edinburgh, up and down the sloping roads that made her legs hurt when she first moved? What would she do wh-
Was someone announcing her flight?
She looked at her watch. Her heart beat a little harder. She’d been waiting months, imagining the day she finally went home. She hadn’t imagined this. She was still excited – to see her family, the people who’d missed her the most, to see that stupid ex-boyfriend, her dog, to be able to walk about with just one layer of clothing and no scarf.
She silently made her way to the gate. It was already crowded. She found a seat beside an old man, in front of a couple with two kids. A young man standing by the windows stared at her while she rummaged through her bag for her iPod. She set it on shuffle and watched the kids, even smiling when they made eye contact. She didn’t like children.
An old song came on. She heaved a massive sigh and looked at the setting London sun, humming softly. She wondered if getting up and moving to the window was a good idea, she didn’t like tearing up in public. Images of her two friends singing the song sitting in the car went through her head. Blonde hair and auburn hair being whipped back by the wind from open windows, riding the highway to a small city in Ireland, while she sat in the backseat laughing at their awful pitch.
By the time she got on to the flight, the sun had set. She wouldn’t get to see the landscape of the country she’d lived in for two years. Maybe it was a good thing she didn’t get a window seat this time, the flight was fully booked. She sat in the isle seat, waited for take-off, put her headphones on and looked for a movie to watch.
She tried to stop looking out of the window. She did eventually.