I watched the crowds. There was a genuine party feeling. Little kids were running about getting under everyone’s feet, people were talking excitedly, nervously. They were relieved, you could tell. Everywhere there were flushed, happy faces, laughing and exclaiming. There were still some here and there though who were tense and quiet; the glass-half- empty folks, the pessimists, who still couldn’t quite believe. A child nearly collided with my leg, scowled at me for a moment and then was off again, trailing a balloon on a string. Round and pink, like bubblegum.
No one noticed me go. Their rapt stares were fixed upon the shining expanse, the vast doors. They filed toward that dark rectangle, jiggling anxiously, craning over those in front. Parents were casting about for their kids, catching hold and gripping tight to small sticky hands.
I stopped were I was, at the diminishing edge of the crowd. The trampled grass was already littered with lost bits and pieces; toys, a pair of glasses, a forgotten, half-eaten sandwich. Stragglers passed, first in handfuls, then in ones and twos. A fat woman ran awkwardly, puffing and dragging a heavy case. A family with a crying baby hurried by. The older child was crying too.
“But I want Polly!”
“Ben, we can’t! We’ve been through this. Ben!”
“I want Polly!” shrieked the hysterical child. The father shook his head. He dropped the bag he was carrying and scooped up his wailing son. The family ran on. The baby’s head joggled like a flower on a thin stalk.
Just one, I thought. If just one person speaks to me I’ll go. Come on! Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing? Tell me to hurry it up?
There was nobody left. Not a single soul left to tell me anything. The last boarders were trudging up the ramp. A breeze stirred the discarded rubbish.
You scummy idiots! I thought. Gateway to a new world? What a load of crap. Checking the grass behind I sat down carefully, didn’t want to muddy my new coat. The dark rectangle of the door closed slowly without a sound. There was just that vast silvery wall again; unbroken, smooth, perfect.
It moved away, and its shape appeared at the edges of my vision. I followed it upward with my gaze, a shrinking ovoid, black against the sun.