10

distance increases

as she travels down slip roads, along motorways, back to her flat across the city — knowing he is still sitting in that little departure lounge as she opens her front door and peels off her coat — aware once again of the cold outer limits of her limbs.
    before distance begins, time seems to her to move like a slow river. what is it that comes into sight — a lock, a weir, a fork around some rocks — that causes him to send her away, because they are no longer being, they are waiting? she thinks of some future, final parting. she wonders if they will see those rocks approaching, with both of them old and tired and ready. at best, she cannot imagine it will ever be without an unbearable wrenching that spikes her tongue a little at each farewell. so she keeps it hidden, this heavy weight, this waiting.

his hand in hers… her head upon his shoulder… arms wrapping round each other so that bellies and chests and faces press

and then     space     he walks to the archway, beyond which she cannot go. he turns and waves. she mirrors, colluding with gesture. at the corner he turns once more and blows a kiss…   and then he is gone. out of sight. she suppresses the desire to follow, to run. she keeps her lips still, which want to call, first to the air, then into a receiver, Come back…   instead she turns and walks. she creates the distance now. past the tourist shop, down the escalator, through the automatic doors. because she knows that however long he stays, however tightly she holds him, she cannot halt the river.
    later, as she sits with the blinds open, dark night up against the glass, she looks at the clock and thinks of him in his window seat as the cabin lights dim. as 178,000 kilograms of metal accelerate down the runway and lift into the sky. setting between them mountains and hills, towns like bioluminescent creatures linked by long tentacles of light and, finally, the black void of the ocean.

Deborah Andrews

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