Standing in line for an airport security check. The woman behind is accompanied by three boys. He guesses she might be in her forties. The oldest kid looks about fifteen. She seems polite but vague. Distant from her children. If they are her children. He’s looking for facial resemblances.
Now he is the one who is distracted as a gap appears in front of him. The man in front of him in the plain white shirt and jeans is now going through the scanning gateway towards a security officer. He rushes to remove his belt and tosses it into a grey plastic tray along with his wallet, a silver name tag bracelet, a hoodie and his passport.
He glimpses back to see the oldest child organising his mother and siblings. She says something in French and he answers in German.
Then he turns around to lift his two cases onto the conveyor belt to go through the scanner.
On the other side of the gate just as finishes putting his belt through the loops of his jeans and tightening it and at that moment when he puts his hand forward to pick up the first case two officers approach him and indicate that he move the cases further along to a small table. Presumably to be opened. To be searched and inspected. Questions to be asked of a man who has nothing to hide. Who believes in transparency.
Excuse me sir, says the female officer, did you pack these by yourself?
Yes, I did.
Would you like to open both cases please?
Of course. Not a problem.
Suddenly he feels there is a problem and he knows why? He knows what they are going to say and he knows what his answer is and he has no problem with his answer because for him it’s the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.
He opens one case and then the other.
The second officer looks at him and smiles, You said you packed both cases by yourself.
Yes. Yes, that’s correct.
But there doesn’t appear to be anything either case. Would that be true?
On the surface yes.
The first officer swabs the case for drugs and explosives. But nothing comes back. She slips on a pair of gloves. In a compartment in each case she finds a slip of paper.
All lies are secrets.
All secrets are lies.
The second officer looks at him. Is this your handwriting?
No, it’s my wife’s.
So perhaps she packed your suitcases.
No, it was me.
You’ve packed two empty suitcases.
No, they’re not empty.
Apart from two slips of paper.
They aren’t empty.
They have my wife’s soul in each. I’m going to set her free on the beach where we honeymooned.
The first officer turns away removing the gloves and tossing them in a bin. She moves back closer to the scanner.
I’m sorry for any inconvenience and I hope you have a safe flight.
From 37,000 feet he is falling through space. Not in a dream. This is no dream. He had fallen asleep and was dreaming. He had been a passenger on a civilian airline. Now he was an object descending with velocity. The dream had not ended abruptly. He become conscious as if groggily coming out of sleep and wakening up in an unfamiliar bed and an alien bedroom. Now he was terrifyingly awake and aware of hurtling towards the planet. That life. That the mundane had collapsed. But there was an assertion, an affirmation in the mind that he was not a victim but a survivor. Reaching out beyond the norm. He was not falling to his death but presenting some sort of metaphor for kindred rootless beings and drifters. The aircraft had had a full payload but he was the only descending particle.
She was sitting on some faraway beach in her bikini bottoms and coral necklace. Her hair brutally chopped with some blunted scissors she found in a drawer unit in the kitchen of her rented accommodation. It was her way of disconnecting herself from the husband and three children she had left behind. Here on this island with the mainland nowhere in sight she would restructure her day. She would meditate. Practise mindfulness. No peripherals at the edge of the frame. The particle descended not in the vista before her but an eruption in her mind which gradually became a stillness.
Night falls. He treads water. A fear of sharks. Of things, little monsters that might be moving or swimming around, close to him in the darkness. He’s desperately trying to keep his head above the water. Trying to survive for a few more hours or days in this ocean of shit. A human turd floating amongst excrement, used condoms, sanitary towels, plastic bottles, freight containers, aircraft debris, broken wooden pallets. He’s trying not to fall asleep. Thunk. Thunk. Two objects hit the surface of the water. He can’t see them. Intuition informs him what they might be. Sometime later one of the objects bumps against him. Bashes into his faces. Thumps his nose. He reaches out towards it. Perhaps he can find the other. Begin to build a raft from the two suitcases. Find other materials. Or maybe he should open the suitcase and be joined by the soul of his wife. Leans his face against the suitcase. It was always a struggle.