Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Way to Arrivals

Whenever Lona would go on one of her too frequent visits back home, she would yet again get her hopes up for nothing: approaching the arrivals doors, she’d automatically fill up with vain anticipation of someone waiting for her behind those doors. Maybe her long gone dad, who in 1987 promised to take her to San Francisco, just before evaporating there himself in the hopes of having a better life with his young and fizzy girlfriend. Maybe her first love, who had deceivingly declared his very serious intentions to be hers forever (‘and ever’) will be waiting behind those doors, still seventeen, and carry her back into the eternally romantic tragedy of adolescence. Whoever it may be, as long as there’s somebody out there waiting for me. Just for once, she thought, just one person, locking their longing eyes on her post-flight figure, with a nostalgic grin and anxious body language, is enough to make her feel missed.

But Lona was never missed. She had moved to Barcelona six years ago, hoping the alleged world’s friendliest city would bury her loneliness for good. She still had some friends back home, but every visit taught her again how easily people grow apart. Even the best of friendships could disintegrate, sometimes for reasons beyond human control.

So she always kept her eyes up, scanning the arrivals floor for anything that could possibly be waiting there for her. She would often pretend to be looking for her driver, seeking a sign with her name with deep concentration. At least those people have some kind of a home to get to, she thought, someone is expecting them.

At some point in her life in Barcelona, Lona met Juan. She met him in the most irrational scenario – a scene which would seem painfully banal for any Hollywood or Indie film, but was actually surreal in her everyday life. He was a bartender, and she found herself ordering drinks for her colleagues at the bar. The bartender noticed her Nordic accent and expressed an interest in her, which led to her blatantly asking him out.  

They spent nine solid months together before she moved into his humble flat. She loved the convenience of this relationship – to her that was the essence of sinking into her comfort zone. Now that she had her other half, it didn’t really matter that she had no friends to go out with, or that all her friends back home had moved on. It didn’t matter that she hated her job as a waitress or that one of the shift leaders at the restaurant was being aggressively over-friendly at times.

And so one would assume that Lona wouldn’t be looking for anyone accidentally waiting for her in airports’ arrivals anymore. But Lona was still never greeted by a soul, and it was eating away at her. Maybe the problem lies with the fact that I’m always travelling on my own, she thought, and quickly concluded it would be the perfect time to go on holiday with her fresh new significant other.

‘Let’s go to a far away island where none of us knows a soul,’ she enthusiastically suggested. Juan chose a sleazy resort in Isla Mujeres, one where he could rest his head in and disconnect from the human world. Luck hadn’t been on his side lately, what with the death of his wife three years before, which forced him to change his whole life. After grieving for one very long year, Juan found himself in the arms of many women around town. His method to dissolve the resisting pain away included random intercourse alongside gallons of alcohol at the local bar, where his friends used to meet him everyday at 18:00 and talk about the glorious days of Luis Enrique. Inbetween meaningless remarks about football legends and women’s intimate areas, the boys would throw a ‘she never deserved it’ or a ‘you’re gonna be fine mate’, to stop him from glaring at thin air. 

The loss of his wife brought Juan to quit his job as a travel agent, as he couldn’t stand looking at couples anymore. Not to mention selling his fake enthusiasm about holiday package deals that he was planning on going to with his late wife. He sold their house and rented a studio flat downtown. He got a job as a bartender as he couldn’t sleep at nights and needed some company. And then he met Lona.

Lona’s mystery swept him away as it would any man. She had sad eyes and a kind smile, which reminded him of his late wife’s innocence. He genuinely believed he fell head over heels for her, and was finally happy again.

On the flight to Cancun Juan fell asleep. Lona was too excited to be reading her book, so she spent most of the flight looking out the window, contemplating on how weird it feels to be travelling with someone else. How strangely well she’d feel landing in such a foreign territory that, for once, isn’t foreign just to her. She was excited about sharing this intimate feeling with her other half. But Juan never woke up; he was sound asleep with his ear plugs and eye cover, leaving no access for any outside world communication.

When they landed in Cancun, they took a bus to the port from which they shipped to the island. It was a sunny, windy day, and as the boat sailed, Juan reckoned that more sleep would ease his unclear stress away.

Just as he was covering his tired eyes again, he felt the warmth of the Caribbean sun penetrating his aching bones. It felt like tiny worms invading his body, crawling through his ears into his intestines, twirling ceaselessly in his stomach. He felt strangled in his own body and was overwhelmed by it. After a long hour Lona turned to him with her enchanting smile, gently uncovering his eyes and festively announcing, “we’re here, my love.” She was flooded with immense tranquillity that she never would have thought existed in her.  

But Juan only got more ill under the blazing sun. He would stay in bed all day long watching the Spanish news on the hotel room TV and missing home. And Lona, well, she was well aware of what’s coming. She tried to spend her days outdoors, taking long walks outside the claustrophobically cheesy resort of Juan’s choice, going for a swim by the ocean every morning, chatting to the other tourists at the pub down the road every evening. She would come back late and find Juan watching a football game with aching indifference.

On the fifth night, Lona came back to a different Juan. When she got to bed, he reached her cool body with his warm arms and started kissing the back of her neck, letting his soft fingers slide down her stomach. It was as if he was acting out of mere impulse – there was no real passion there, just the kind of automatic foreplay that bored married couples perform on birthdays and anniversaries. Lona refused to give in to that apathetic deed. As he was turning her fragile body to face him, she reached for the kitchen knife that was conveniently laid under the bed. She did it quickly, fiercely, and mercilessly. His body bended to a fetal position and a soundless shriek came out of his pierced lungs. It didn’t take long. As he stopped panting, Juan’s stomach started to discharge funny coloured organisms in the shape of worms. There was no blood, just tiny worms spitted out slowly until finally covering the entire bed.

Lona got on the next plane back. When she landed in Barcelona, she smiled as she saw the Spanish police waiting for her at arrivals.

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