The phone rang again that morning. Linda calmly placed the palms of her hands against her ears and looked at the big window. A thin sheet of frost covered the glass pane, shattering the black spruce trees in the distance. The snow was still falling heavily.
Linda removed her hands from her ears. The airport was quiet, but restless. Most of the people had slept on the floor after the local hotel filled up. Many people, Linda included, had not slept at all. The large man with the sewing machine had finally yelled himself hoarse and retired into a corner. The two young men were still sitting cross-legged on the cold floor, playing cards and consuming the alcohol they amassed the night before. The boy was looking at the photos he took of the girl before she got on her plane – the last one to leave the airport.
They had received little indication of when the runways would be cleared outside a few promises of “later this afternoon”. Linda didn’t mind. The airport was her home for now, and she knew it well. She recognized the hollow rattling of the storefronts opening up at dawn, and watched the people scramble for their cold bread with lettuce and chicken, their sour juice, their rubbery croissants and waxy fruits, the same as always.
Linda held the ceramic cup close to her nose and inhaled deeply. On the dark tapestry of her eyelids, she saw the swaying leaves of the plum tree outside her kitchen window. Her hand moved involuntarily along the edge of the table, seeking the corner with the deep indentation of two front teeth. She felt an urge to slump forward, rest her chin on the arm of the wooden bench, cross her legs and watch Mulder and Scully shine their flashlights in the dark, while the smoke of her father’s cigarette disappeared into the extractor fan.
She shook her head and sipped at her coffee. Over the large brim, she peered at the young woman opposite her. A big, black fly had landed on the woman’s hand, and the woman noticed it when turning the page of her magazine. The woman pursed her lips and blew at the fly, and it spiralled off into the air.
Linda smiled. There used to be a time where she had regarded people as being dead-alive; an unwashed mass of walking but non-living bodies. She used to move among them cautiously, in constant imitation of her neighbour, fearing her being singled out and set upon by the pack. She had known this reality and others, but in her current one she knew that people were not dead, but very much alive.
And that was much more frightening.