Vapour trail: a very short story by Polly Malone


You get off the plane.  It’s hot and your feet smell.  Baobab trees boggle your brain.  The spices hit you and your feet recede.  The guy who sat next to you is looking shifty as he moves to the airport building.  He’s not staying long, he’s only got hand luggage.  He’d talked Tory at you all the way from Nairobi and you hope he’s delayed going through customs.  You wait by the plane while your bags are hurled down.  There’s no carousel here.


Your friends asked you to bring cheese – they are starved of it.  ‘And bring extra for the people at customs.’  You can picture the scene when they open your case.  One swimsuit and forty packs of Cheddar.  Stilton by the dozen.  And Camembert.


From inside the plane had seemed small.  Now it looms above you bigger than your life.  The sun is so bright it goes right through the metal, into your mind and out the other side.  Photon feasting – yeah, that’s what you came for.  But the shade of the plane is a cradle, a grave.

Polly Malone, February 2013



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