The turbulence woke her from the light sleep. Or maybe was it the pilot’s brief. The plane had its nose towards her old hometown, to where she had come regularly ever since she left, when she was in her early twenties.
There was a time when both her parents came to pick her up at the airport. She could see them from the top of the stairs; they were standing side by side by the luggage belt. Waiting expectantly. Her father loved the airport with its bustling atmosphere. Whereas her mother worried about the parking.
Then came the year when she didn’t see her father at first glance. Oh, but there he was, sitting at a bench, resting his legs. He got himself up and came towards her the minute he saw her. She was thinking, my father is about to become an old man. But not too old to make the same enquiries; about the journey, the transfer, the delay, the weather… All these little details he cared so much for. While her mother looked her up and down and said, ‘Is that a new coat?’
And the year when her mother was alone, looking abandoned by the luggage belt.
‘He didn’t feel too well’, she said. ‘He was sorry to miss the trip to the airport.’ And she went on to talk about the chaos at the parking place and then she said prying, ‘Is that a new coat you have?’
Her father was on the sofa under a blanket when they came to the flat. He wanted the details, as usual. His breathing had become heavier since the last time she saw him, and she thought, ‘My father is an old man.’
And then, inevitably, came the year when her mother looked even more abandoned by the luggage belt, and smaller, as if she had shrunk. She talked distractedly, and missed her daughter’s new coat. There was nobody on the sofa when they came to the flat.
A year later her mother called the day before departure. ‘I’m not feeling too well, would you be terribly upset if I ask you to take a taxi from the airport?’
‘Of course not, why worry about that?’ she said encouraging. ‘I’ll be fine with a taxi.’
From the top of the stairs she scanned the area. She knew there would be nobody waiting for her. But she kept looking, out of habit. She blended with the arrivals and those who came to pick them up. She was surrounded by students, families with small children, parents, grandparents… all chatting amiably. A feeling of profound loneliness crept upon her. But her mother would be waiting in the flat.
This is the trial-run, she thought. Because there will come a day when nobody will be waiting for me in this town. She picked up her suitcase and walked slowly to the line of waiting taxis.
Anne-Trine Benjaminsen is Norwegian and lives in the town of Stavanger. She works in the oil service industry as a web publisher. For 23 years though, she held the position as the editor of the company’s internal/external magazine. She switched to web publishing when the magazine closed down. Anne-Trine Benjaminsen has recently taken up creative writing as a new challenge. Reading is a favourite pastime, especially novels and short stories from far away countries. Other than that, she is a keen photographer and travels frequently to India where she finds many photo opportunities.
Photo credit: Angie Spoto