Coney Island

She had said that we couldn’t be together anymore and I drove. I drove to no where, guided by orange streetlights that floated above. I longed to be a cowboy in one of my father’s old western films, ride off into the next town, start again. I drove through the city at night with the window down to hear the voices across the streets, streets that shined in the mist of rain that fell without sound. And the city was bright, the darkness way off in the distance above.

I drove to the airport and watched the planes come in. Watched the people meet and cover each other with their arms. I’d stand with the waiting loved ones and pretend she was about to come off the plane next. From here, across the runway that led off to the darkness, the lights of the city looked as if the stars had fallen from the sky, shining from the earth. I stayed at the airport because there’s never more love in a room than when people return. Although it highlighted what I didn’t have, it gave me comfort or hope. Watching the plane slowly empty from the doorway. Watching for the people who’d missed each other so much. And waiting for the next plane.

The girl sat next to me, stared at me, waiting to catch my eye. She carried an old bag. She spoke first and I had to respond and we talked about travelling. She asked me where I was going and I said no where. I told her I wasn’t waiting for anyone either. Well not anyone I was expecting. Final call for flight 812. We talked about why I had come. She said worse things could happen. She said that I could be dying. The girl took her cardboard cup of coffee, smiled and left across the sky.

Passengers for flight 603.

A plane lifts to the night, a plane arrives. Watch the families rejoin. Couples. I went outside to feel the wind of the planes overhead. With my eyes closed I could see her there next to me, her hair blowing across the night. I smooth it back from her eyes. She smiles at my touch.

‘Are you okay?’ An older woman asks me, the lights from an emergency vehicle flashing over her face. She says I look upset. She tells me to come with her, leads me towards the front entrance.

‘This is how you smuggle things’ She says as she dances through security. No one stops her. ‘That’s how,’ she says. She shows me photos of people on holidays, smiling sunburnt, though none of them have her in them. She says she’s going to Paris. She says:

‘Have you ever been overseas?’ I shake my head. ‘It’s very exciting.’ She drags her suitcase behind her, smiling.

‘And where are you going?’ She asks.

‘No where.’ We walk back through security towards the departure gates.

‘Where is that?’ She asks, and stops, staring straight ahead down the corridor.

‘No place.’ I tell her. She smiles, looks at her suitcase.

‘Ever been overseas?’ She asks. I tell her no again.

‘I’m going to Mauritius’ She tells me. ‘It’s the best feeling to know you’re going away.’ She flicks the plastic handle of her bag. I tell her how people miss people and there’s so much love in the airport. How you don’t ever feel so alone.

‘I know exactly what you mean.’ She points to my chest, laughs in a way. ‘I’m going home now.’ She turns, her suitcase dragging behind her, and walks back. I say:

‘What about your trip.’ She smiles, waves at me.

‘I’m going the same place as you.’ She says. ‘And it feels okay.’ Her suitcase wheels along behind her. She stops one more time, turns from a distance.

‘Did I ask you what was wrong?’ I tell her yeah, she did already. ‘That’s right, I did didn’t I?’ Flight 207 takes off beside her.

With the sun coming up across the tarmac, the planes glisten and reflect light. I tell a stranger that I cannot imagine something more unlikely to fly than a plane, but it does. People unload, wide awake in the early hours. They love each other, these people. They hate to see each other go.

I tell an Englishman in the lounge that I can imagine no-where more lonely than a playground on Coney Island beach. No sight more haunting than that old, deserted ferris wheel by the sea. He talks about cricket and says he’s never been to Coney Island. I say, me neither.

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