“Waiting” by Fiona Summerfield

We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. This week, we consider the idea of a “do over” for your life.

We present our Feature Story: “Waiting” by Fiona Summerfield

I left the note. Took a gulp of kitchen air, tinged from last night’s tagine and this morning’s toast. I walked out of the house.

I turned to look one last time at the wooden door. The dark grain of the wooden panels with the big stainless steel handle curving down the side – slim but curvy like an underwear model.

Going, going, gone. The auction hammer fell with the purr of the taxi pulling up to a stop. I was on my way. I was alone in the back, no one asking me anything. No one was qualifying their wants with a “just when you have a moment.” Look at me. Look at the kids – when did I have “moments”?

Now I had them, one after the other, tumbling after each other. I let the moments slide by. I watched out the window. The trees and cars and letterboxes and fences strung together in a garish piece of costume jewelry worn by an indifferent world.

At the airport, I joined the traveling tribe, like I belonged – but it had been awhile. It was all electronic now. I couldn’t scan my passport. The ticket wouldn’t print. I couldn’t get my luggage label on right. If Timmy had done it like that I would have been cross with him. Finally I had all my bits of paper and beeps done. I waited in the queue to give them my bags, waited in the queue to go through customs. I waited to go through the security checks. It was like my life, always waiting for the next step; high school, finishing college, getting a job, getting married, having kids and then… waiting for them to grow up. Was life supposed to be so much waiting?

Not anymore; now I was trying to be doing. But I was still waiting.

The boarding call sang and I rose to meet it. We waited on the tarmac for the plane to be pushed back and start its crawl down the apron to the runway. We stopped. I had relaxed now that we were finally leaving. The plane turned and went back to the terminal. My heart started to thump. Had Ben called? Had he stopped the plane? I looked around to try and find out what was going on. The air stewards marched their way down the aisle with furrowed brows. I waited for them to stop at my seat but they kept walking. Someone had been very ill down the back of the plane. I waited for us to be assigned a new slot to leave.

Finally we trundled away from the apron like the lumbering heap of metal we were, down to the end of the runway and pirouetted to stare down the asphalt. The power poured into the engine. We thundered forward and I was pushed back. We started to lift and the guttural glee of leaving the ground filled me with joy.

I was away, above it all – pushing out on my own. I could live, as I pleased, not according to anyone else’s rules and ideas. The stewardesses came purposely down the aisle handing out cards. “…According to Australian law you must fill in your arrival card.” I compliantly got out my pen and started writing in block capitals just as the form said.

Our meals came next, presumably according to a schedule set down by someone. At least the turbulence was not prepared to follow rules and we had to wait for our hot drinks.
In Melbourne, the Skybus was waiting for me to take me to the hotel.

It was early when I arrived and they were not ready for me yet. The bakery down the road was waiting. I was in between the breakfast and the lunch crowd. I wrapped my lips around a soft donut filled with sweet, pillowy cream.

I walked back to the hotel, listening to the crows calling out to each other and studied the grass – it was different from home. I managed the hotel front desk during the day. All day businessmen with blank faces and shiny shoes checked in and checked out. Woman, in their high-heeled boots, styled hair and phones to their ears, organized meetings around me. I organized their sleeping arrangements and their breakfasts. I smiled and no one saw me – just my badge and my uniform. I waited for the shift to end – the day, the week, the month.

I didn’t even know what I was waiting for anymore. I had changed countries, dumped my family and still I was waiting. I couldn’t go back.

I started applying for jobs in Europe and waited for replies. None came. I joined the world volunteers and waited for a place to go to Africa, to make a difference to the world. I waited for information, for visas and doctor’s appointments.

I arrived in Kenya and waited to be picked up and waited to help but it was so unorganized and they seemed to be waiting for me to do something. I didn’t even finish my time there. I got fed up with waiting and left the guesthouse.

I was sitting at the bus station waiting for the bus when the lady from the guesthouse ambled up, gave me a big smile and handed me a battered postcard. She didn’t say anything about me leaving.

I turned the card over.

“To Mom,
I hope you get this because I googled you and I found a website that said you were here but is it really you? Dad said you are never coming back because you have gone weird but Grandma said you might if I wrote you a card. Please Mommy come home. I am getting tired of waiting.
Love from Tim.”

Fiona Summerfield has always written. She remembers getting poems published in the local paper as a child and was inspired to go on with a writing career and complete post graduate journalism studies at university. Since that time her published writing has been of a more factual nature, most recently related to chemistry and innovative software, but in her spare time other writing has always continued. She also loves to people watch and make up stories for the strangers she sees and wonders if she ever gets them right. In one case recently she did – but that is another story. Read more about Fiona on her blog.


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One Comment

  1. What a perfect ending – I felt relieved and very happy for her.

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