A short piece I wrote during a course with the Writer’s Studio. We had a strict word count and prompts to follow. I remember with this one, we had to use a song in it. Saying goodbye to a child at the airport is not easy.
In the midst of people walking every which way, they stand, facing each other, mum and daughter. A cacophony of voices and announcements echo around their unseen cocoon.
‘I have to go.’ Layla checks again, her boarding card and passport safe in her tight grip.
Claire nods in silence, while the voice in her head screams in protest.
‘I’m gonna miss you, mum.’
Claire looks at her daughter who is about to put oceans between them. She is beautiful. Her skin is flawless, her teeth are straight and unstained, her lashes long. Layla’s eyes are bright excited. Claire’s burn.
‘I’ll write, mum, promise.’
‘Of course darling, me too.’ Eight days for a letter to reach her. Eight long days. And Layla will be the busy one and Claire will be the one with a fixed address. ‘You can always ring collect call, you know that.’
Claire drops her daughter’s heavy bag at their feet. It lightens the immediate physical load on her shoulder but she feels heavier. She wants to pick it up again, as if she can hang on to her little girl that way.
‘Oh, mum.’ Laila offers up her arms. Claire sees her toddler, big eyes and chubby cheeks. They embrace, she small and vulnerable in her daughter’s young, strong arms. Claire hides her face in Layla’s hair, still a little damp. She smells of apple and toothpaste.
Laila pulls away, picks up her bag, gives a quick apologizing smile then she disappears into security check, swallowed up by the crowd. Her adventure has begun.
The Boeing 747 bound for the world disappears between illuminated afternoon clouds at high speed. Claire is stuck in peak hour while the radio plays the latest hit by Gallagher & Lyle—Breakaway.