close physical proximity, with frontsides oriented to facilitate interaction between people whose faces are visible to one another.

Face to Face

I can feel the hard plastic, curved in all the wrong places, poking into the small of my back. I try to slouch into a more comfortable position, but now the bump is only higher up. I know this place well by now, I’ve counted the tiles on the roof, I’ve studied the passer-bys. I almost know the check-in ladies’ names off by heart. I’ve spent hours just going up and down the escalator in the domestic terminal. I’m bored.

I watch the small screen above this horrible chair like a mother watching a toddler. I already know that the flight was delayed and is running three hours late. That’s why I’ve been waiting. Waiting. Maybe waiting for five hours, six even. I’ve seen the people getting on and off the planes embrace and laugh. I’ve seen the narcotics dogs checking luggage. Hey! I’ve even seen the pathetic want-to-be chauffeurs hold their little cards, reading ‘McIntyre Family’, ‘Mr Jones’ and ‘You, if you need to get somewhere’.

I wonder what she’ll see in me. I come as I am. Blue-black hair, shoulder-blade length and straight; emerald eyes, framed by huge, long and curled lashes; small, pointy nose and a sharp chin. I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Nothing smart, but at least I’m slightly comfortable. What am I doing here, waiting on my own for somebody I’ve never seen?

What does she look like? Will she like me? I wonder what she is feeling. I know I’m scared, but she must be petrified, flying from Ottawa to Christchurch on her own.

I am still eyeing the screen, and it tells me that "Flight 603 from Auckland will be arriving in two minutes". This is her.

The plane touches down, and after a brief pause, excited holiday-makers file off the blue tunnel, a chattering crowd. Their noise swells in volume as they see the people who are picking them up. Taxi drivers are waiting with luggage trolleys. I still see the little men with their signs.

Then I see her. Sara Black. I know it’s her, even though I’ve never met her, seen her photo, written to her or spoken on the phone. I know it’s her. It’s obvious. Red hair, freckles, emerald eyes, small nose and pointy chin. I can see the resemblance, but I figure that the red hair must have come from my Aunt.

Our eyes lock, and I know that she recognises me, although she has had just as little contact with me, as I have with her.

I see her mouth forming a word, Kate. I smile, and begin to push my way through the crowd. Ironically, I see that it’s almost like sprinting up the escalator in reverse, but no escalators ever wore Hawaiian shirts, or black jeans, or berets. I reach my cousin, and we both know that life is great. I nod in the direction of the luggage carousel, and we walk off, leaving the little men with their cards far behind.

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