Passing Through

Minouk Lim

The man drew a crumpled note from the pocket and read it again. A few simple rules such as checking gas valve, fastening windows, restraining beef intake, etc. and an agreement that we regard the present separation as an endurable choice among a series of experiments. The memo, handwritten hurriedly in tiny letters, was worn down and swollen like cotton cloth. I came close to throwing it into the wastebasket along with some receipts. What brought me here? He momentarily asked himself, standing in a line at airport security. Anyway, a new start... again. Lives lined in zigzags went through the security with a safety approval after their baggage being forcibly X-ray scanned and liquid items seized. Now comes the passport control. Flip-flops-dragging-tourists looked around for the shortest line with agile eyes. People staying behind the yellow line parted with the resolutely impatient ones at the duty free shops in the background. Visibility stops here, however. Is she still watching me? Can I see her, maybe waving good-bye to me through the striped windows, if I look back? I hesitated as if a moment's turning around meant a total shattering blow to the pride I have kept during my whole life. l held back, raising my head to check the boarding gate instead. In the duty-free space did numbers and brands look the most refined. People in here are supposed to raise their heads instead of dragging the floor with their shoulders drooped. Perhaps it is because of the weight of life to live again rather than the sadness parting with something. Our face looks more natural when lifted than when lowered. Suddenly this place where visibility and control went on a honeymoon made my blood boil. Despite repeated escapes in the past, it seemed unfair to have passed through the safety inspections. How can I be safe just as everyone else is! I crumpled my hands and threw them into the pockets. I felt a lighter along with the note. Scraps of life, worrying about themselves, were there in the pockets. It suddenly strikes me that I am far from safe. It was them who were simply under a delusion. I held my hands high with the note in the left one and the lighter in the right. The airport is long and tall. I began to run, slowly at first, as if I were a marathon runner. I went past by the duty-free shops, luxury stores, small-scale bookshops and souvenir shops in succession. Everything pretends, only for the people in the process of getting through. I speeded up. I darted off as if a fire had fallen upon the top of my foot. Ha, Ha, Ha... I am not safe. Once picking up speed, I ran ahead towards the ceiling high above. The roar swirled. I soared like a rocket. I made up my mind to be nestled in the air of the airport as gas that let go of liquid. I determined not to leave here. I, without compunction, will adhere to this place where everyone else just passes through. What a relief to have neither the grief to console nor the hope for the future! I became a threat that had gotten through the safety net. I caught them off guard. Nobody recognizes and the airport is beautiful. it is beautiful for being large and empty. The moment I, now both the danger and the threat, began to roam, the tension made it more beautiful. The complicity between the threatening and the threatened will make my life last much longer. Here at this ceiling... that has been completely emptied.