departures

Don found himself in the low-ceilinged check-in area, shuffling forwards towards a desk with other blank-faced people.

”Can I see your documents, Sir?”

Don puts some papers which were in his hand onto the desk in front of him,

“Do have any further emotional baggage to check-in, Sir?  Or is it just the one bag?”

“Just this,” Don hears himself say.

“Did you pack it yourself, Sir?  Do you know what’s in it?  No sharp regrets or painful confessions to anyone?”

Don pauses for a moment before shaking his head unconvincingly.

“Very good, Sir.”  She efficiently labels the package and places it on a conveyor belt.  “Is it just that with you as hand luggage today?”

In his right hand Don sees a plastic yellow bath duck.  He nods, dumbly.  She smiles at him, endeared by the object.

“Well you take care now, won’t you?  Enjoy your flight.”

Don mumbles his thanks before moving aside, following arrows to the security gateway.

“Everything on the trays here please,” a faceless person in a white all-in-one outfit says.

Don places his yellow bath duck on the tray, finds a tube of female lip gloss in his pocket and puts that on there too.  He goes to take off his shoes before realising that he isn’t wearing any.  The conveyor belt accepts the tray and pulls it through a scanning box.  He walks through a narrow doorway.  Two faceless men nod their assenting and he passes on to collect the duck out the other side.

A seemingly endless white corridor greets him, stores selling with mostly indistinct and non-utilitarian items lining the sides: memory sticks and adaptors are two items Don can make out, so he buys one of each.  A faceless person’s eyes crinkle towards him as he takes them to the counter.

Don flushes with panic, fearing that he might have to give up the duck as payment.  The faceless person holds out their arm and swishes the memory stick in front of Don’s left nipple.  A bleeping sound echoes from the vicinity of the fingers and the person nods, then repeats the process with the adaptor.  Don feels violated and confused and amused.  It finishes by saying “Thank you Sir, enjoy your flight.”

Between the stores are instructional screens with banks of numbers and destinations.  Hell, Heaven and Limbo occur the most frequently.  Don was told his destination was Heaven.  The screen says the next departure is in 47 minutes from Gate F.

He walks aimlessly up and down the white corridor, past departure gates where faceless people crowd, clamour and squeal against an invisible screen.  He sits down near Gate F to inspect his adaptor and memory card: small items which don’t look capable of much.

The 47 minutes tick down and a small flurry of faceless people join Don.  He shyly nods and smiles in their direction, wondering if he too is faceless.  They don’t return his gesture and sit down.  Two faceless people stand behind a desk, waiting, the doorway behind them sealed shut.

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