Airport Sleepover

haichu

  The airport is dark and dead, so different from it’s counterpart that existed only an hour ago that I have trouble comprehending that they are one in the same. The empty terminals and dimmed lights foster an ethereal landscape, my corporeal presence feeling displaced and wrong. The rumble of my luggage rolling behind me as I tug it up and down the aisles is sacrilege in this church of silence. Blackened displays – still glowing slightly with residual energy – look gargantuan on the walls. At the far end of the foyer is a set that is still alive – mistake or not I’m unsure – that is displaying image after image of a beach, the sea, a surfer, a boat, the cliffs, kanji, kanji, kanji. I’ll miss it all. Hell, I miss it already. It’s Chūbu, I know, but an airport is an airport is an airport. The only window is far above, the dome of glass and bars and architecture that act as a ceiling. A night sky is a night sky is a night sky.

  A couple of guards look at me strangely as I wander, as I try to take in the last remnants of Japan before I leave. I feel alone, truly alone, before receding back into a makeshift waiting lounge. An hour ago it was a combini still kicking with commerce, the dulled employees behind the counter perking up at the prospect of clocking off. Now a single Japanese youth is present, his graveyard shift just starting, bent across the table with his nose touching the magazine in front of him and I think is he asleep? 

  Amidst the shelves of gum and earplugs and other such commodities that the place deems worthy for the flying public is a two sided bench – real LAX, you know? – sitting smack in the middle of the store and it’s here I’m to spend the next six hours waiting for my crazy-early flight back home to take off. I have some yen left over from the train journey I took from Hirabari to get here and I know it’s not enough that I’ll ever get it changed when I get home if only because of the pretentious nature of my local currency converter, the bureau de change – seriously? Fuck you. So instead I meander idly around the store, picking things up and putting them back down, weighing up what I’ll miss the most so as to savour it one last time. They don’t have the legendary Fanta Melon of Tokyo 7-Eleven fame – that is a story for another time, believe me – so I get a couple of bars of Hi-Chew chewy candy. You wouldn’t believe how many flavours there are and the wide spread of colours across the row remind me of the multi-coloured lanterns I saw a week back at the festival, their glossy wrappers shining from the light above the stand.

  I spend a good twenty minutes just weighing up what I think they’ll taste like – some are obvious, with images of strawberries on the cover or pears and so on, but what the fuck is this? A neon-orange croissant with spikes? Sure, why not. Last chance to board that particular train. When I finally make up my mind and decide on the variety I lay them on the counter with a clatter and the clerk – who is now full face down on the page – awakens with a start, the magazine coming up with his cheek for a way before separating and landing with a slap back down on the surface.

  Whilst he rings my purchase through I reach over to the fridge, the microwave spaghetti Bolognese calling to me, and grab it, adding it to the multitude of candy. Still embarrassed from before he asks with head bowed if I’d like it heated up, motioning to the microwave behind him in case I didn’t catch the Japanese. I nod and mumble affirmation, in a limbo of feelings. Not really hungry but not really not, not really tired but definitely not awake, and I realise it’s going to be a long night.

  I make my way back to the bench where I left my suitcase, the plastic bag of chews looped around my arm and the piping hot box of spaghetti tentatively clutched in my fingertips,  fork stuck upright in the middle of the mess of sauce. When I get there however my solitude is gone, in it’s place, exactly where it used to be sitting, is a girl in a black hoodie. As I stand there, surprised at my new companion, glancing at the features that protrude from her profile, framed with strands of hair peeking out tentatively, she turns and looks at me. The beautiful girl smiles a hello and I do my best to return the stunning gesture.

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~ by Joseph Blame on August 25, 2010.

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