Two families in transit at Fiji airport
Father and son dork out over the Air Pacific fleet. The planes are hulking in front of the hangar, hemmed by low jungle escarpment.
“It’s a 747,” muses Dad. “Pretty new fleet.”
“Yeah,” says son.
“Considering how many 400s Qantas still has – ”
Son interjects: “They’ve been flying longer Dad. No need to retire a perfectly good 400! They’re starting to though, to phase them out.”
Agreeably outgeeked, father and son drift away, happy in each other’s company, leaving me to finish my airport coffee, the hot overpriced styrofoam grip of it, gazing at the mountain behind the hangars in the dense banana air.
* * *
It begins as an angry hissing.
“I don’t love you anymore. I change my mind. Go away!”
Ears prick up involuntarily, on alert. Travelers of all kinds shuffling through inane airport switchbacks, eyes downcast, murmuring to our partners, waiting to clear customs. Transit’s doldrum-zone.
The abuse comes from a Fijian woman, flesh spilling from the top her of jeans. Her boy is at her side, a slim mellow-faced kid of about eleven with a passive expression.
“I’m gonna tell immigration about you. I change my mind. Don’t use me to get to my country. Go away!”
Her partner and the object of her wrath keeps his distance, inching forward gradually so a length of about two metres is maintained between them. Travelers behind him start to keep their distance too, creating a radius of caution and curiosity around him. Alone in the centre he just looks dopey. He says nothing. Nothing at all.
“I change my mind. I don’t love you anymore.”
It’s impossible to tell who’s the wronged and who’s the perpetrator. I can only judge her by the look on her son’s face, so slim at her side – and so closed.