Playing safe

As the board flashed ‘Go to Gate 17’, Alfie turned round and peered out the expanse of glass – bullet-proof glass after the events of the previous Christmas. Or was it New Year, he couldn’t remember. He remembered there being snow on the ground and taking his aunt to hospital when she’d slipped and broken her arm.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” she’d said to him when he’d told her of the offer; a year’s contract leading to permanent.

Turning back to the flashing board, he picked up his holdall. He’d already checked it was regulation size but now half-hoped that he’d be stopped, that someone would tell him he’d made a mistake and his luggage would be found and taken off the plane.

He didn’t really care if it wasn’t found, it was only shirts and trousers. The things that mattered to him were in his holdall; photographs, rings… his and hers. His – he couldn’t bear to wear and hers – removed at the hospital and put in a plastic bag, along with the bracelet he’d bought her for their 10th anniversary.

He knew it was now or never. His aunt would say, “now”, his wife, Carrie, would have agreed. He’d always been the one to play safe; suggest Europe when she’d wanted exotic. So they alternated Spain one year, Egypt the next.

Exotic was waiting for him now and as the board read ‘Final call’, he and his holdall headed for Gate 17.


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