Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)
TITLE: Not such a stupid thing
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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It was such a stupid, simple thing to do. They all sounded beautiful, and if there was one thing my life needed at the moment, it was beauty. And they were very far, as far as I needed to get.
I tacked the maps of Greece, Ethiopia and Australia to different angles of my library wall, Greece because I was born there, Ethiopia because it sounded exotic and Australia because…well I don’t know.
I spun on my feet, gathered momentum and whirled with all of my strength. When I finally stopped, I was facing the map of Australia.
Quickly, before I could change my mind, I called my travel agent who was also my good friend.
“Christie, I need you to book me a flight to Australia. Yes, yes, and I need to leave by next week.”
I hung on to the phone as she asked me why I wanted to go to Australia, which exact town I was going, and how long was I staying.
To all three questions, I answered in the negative. I didn’t know why I was going to Australia, except perhaps to relax, escape away from the hullabaloo of living in New York and take a much needed break after my thirteenth book reached the bestseller list.
“Take care of everything.” I said.
I arrived Brisbane in mid-March, on an afternoon so hot drinking cup after cup of water made no difference. I didn’t need divine guidance to remove my jacket, roll up my sleeves, unhitch my cap.
I started to search for my name on a placard. Christie had only said that someone would be waiting for me. I didn’t know the color, the gender or whatsoever about the person in question.
Fifteen minutes later, sweaty and cross, I could not still find the person who was to pick me.
Shaking my head disgustedly but determined to give myself a proper holiday, I started to make my way to the entrance of the arrival lounge, my one box rolling not too smoothly behind me. A red-bandanaed man was just swinging open the door as I bent to straighten the tire of my box.
The door caught me squarely in the face, and I thought I heard the sound of smashing bone. A thousand stars lit up in my eyes and I sank gratefully into the waiting arms of darkness.
When I came to, the man was fanning me with his hat. And of all things to consider at a time like that, I considered his bald head. Pink, as smooth as a baby’s buttocks, as if he’d not just gone bald but has been so all of his life.
“Are you okay?” His face was a mask of worry.
“I guess so. Is my nose broken?”
Fear lit up his eyes as he checked my nose. A little pain, that was all.
“I guess it’s all right.” Then I realized that people were watching us. I was still lying on the floor, he was still kneeling beside me, fanning me still.
Laughing at the absurdity of the situation, I allowed him help me up. “Are you sure you’re okay?” He asked again.
“Yes I am. But I’m going to need a taxi. Someone was supposed to pick me but he hasn’t shown up, and my friend Christie said he would be here.”
“Are you Evelyn? From the U.S.?”
“Yes. And you are?”
“Arthur. I’m Christie’s brother-in-law. The guy who was supposed to pick you got sick and Christie tried to reach you but you were in the air. She asked me to come pick you.”
For the first time, I noticed Arthur was quite handsome. A straight aquiline nose, full generous lips, and eyes the color of the sea, filled with the wisdom of the life experiences he had gathered over his fifty-something years of living. And there was something regal in his bearing, something dignified, the same quality Philip, my late husband had unconsciously exuded.
I smiled as we shook hands. He wasn’t wearing a wedding band.
Perhaps coming on a whim to Australia was not such a stupid thing after all.
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