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Lost in waves

Economy class ticket - flight number 1816 - 09:45 am - Jun 20, 2021 - window seat space 7 D - baggage not checked.

Destination: Atlantic city, Int. Airport. One Way Trip.

Here it is, said Mrs. Jones when the United employee asked for her documents; she had been silent for so many hours that her own voice surprised her a bit. When she realized how far she had come, she knew that what she had planned the night before was beginning to come true. Suddenly she felt the crushing white fear of the irreversible. She put her documents back in her handbag, where she also carried Oliver's photo in a picture frame, and adjusted the handkerchief around her neck. She was not sure what she had to do now, or where she should go to board the flight that would take her to Atlantic City, however she acted naturally, as if this plane trip was not her first time. The journey from that old warehouse in Greenflieds that served as a bus station, surrounded by corn and soy plants and wild, mangy dogs that barked at all those passing cars, to the airport had been busy enough. In spite of everything, Mrs. Jones did not allow herself to be intimidated, somehow she managed to keep her nerves at bay, as if those impulses were a caged lion, and she managed to control them, whip in hand. For now, she was succeeding, but she could not trust herself too much, she knew well that she could not go back with her plan, as if the fact of moving away from the town she had never left in her entire life was not the most difficult test.

Getting to Atlantic City was much more difficult than she would have thought. She showed the same fake smile as before, made of plastic, forced by the circumstances, and was silent. The men already knew her name, they also knew where she was going, but they wanted to know more. Now they asked her if she had reservations in a hotel in Atlantic city, they asked her to show them some id, they asked her where she would go to stay the first nights, what was the reason for her trip. Mrs. Jones tried to open her wallet, but her hands were entangled in the closure, and the more she hurried, the more imprecise her fingers became, as if they all wanted to sabotage her. If she knew someone in Atlantic City, the police wanted to know, if she had nephews, children, a husband waiting for her there.

Mrs. Jones listened to these questions without ever abandoning that smile to which she had forced herself. And she didn't know what to answer. The men began to grow impatient.

What are you going there, ma'am? Holidays? Business? One of them had stayed with her, the other had left the place to speak through a handy. Mrs. Jones looked around her. Most of the people passed her without noticing anything, but some passengers had stopped to see her. This made her very embarrassed, and she suddenly seemed to get smaller in that white dress printed with the drawing of some orange flowers that she was wearing.

Mrs. Jones barely looked up.

I'm going to the sea, she said.

And in a way it was true.

She didn't say: I'm going to Atlantic city because I want to be near the sea.

She only said: I'm going to the sea.

Because only that was her destiny, not Atlantic City, but the sea, the darkness that existed beneath its undulating, foamy surface.

With those words, Mrs. Jones tried to satisfy the thirst for answers of these two men, but it was not the words but the way in which she had said them.

Of course those two gentlemen from the aeronautical police did not understand. They looked at her for a moment, there was something strange about that well-dressed lady, without luggage, that despite that smile embedded in her face, she lowered her gaze to the ground as if a sadness within her was about to bring her down at every moment. Then the image of Oliver appeared on all those screens that announced the flights and their departure and arrival times. wherever Mrs. Jones looked, she found the image of her husband.

Oliver saw her in that dress that he knew so much, with the purse that he had given her not long ago, from all those screens; he was looking at her as he had done that afternoon sitting on the edge of the bed, that last time.

I'm going to say goodbye to someone, she said to give more information to those two officers who were holding her, while still seeing on the screens what only she could see.

Oliver's image gradually faded, and the schedules and number of flights reappeared.

The three of them were silent, in one of the many corridors of the airport, wrapped in that artificial air that usually exists in those places, as if suddenly the three had realized that they were playing a role in a play and there will be nothing left to say. Mrs. Jones was about to surrender, she no longer had the strength to put up any resistance. But seconds later, the security men looked at her again, looked at each other, returned her documents and left; later they would raise a report that would say nothing in particular, but first they would go and beg for coffee and croissants at the bar in the international arrivals area.

When Mrs. Jones arrived at the pre-departure lounge, there was no one else around her, and she suddenly feared she was on the wrong room, so she rummaged through her wallet to see the ticket and double-checked the number. It was that, she was in the right room. The rows of empty seats offered her too many alternatives where she could sit and wait, so she was not sure which one to choose. She had never been in a place so big and alone. Something made her remember the night she had crawled through loose planks to spy on the construction site of what would be Greenfield's only theater; She was a girl of about eleven years old, that night, little Patrice, winter was beginning, and her mother had sent her to buy she did not remember what to the grocery store near the square. The store had closed, so little Mrs. Jones was returning to her house when she saw the still unpainted walls that peered over the wooden fence, and she decided to come closer; one of the planks was loose, it was easy to push it so she could get inside. At that moment, thousands of ants ran through her body from her feet to the base of her neck. The place was dark, there was a kind of large and empty room, which she later knew would be the hall of the theater, where the light from the street filtered and cast different elongated and arabesque shadows against the walls. Beyond, at the back, a towering arcade opened, as if it were the entrance to a gigantic cave, which led to an even larger room. Little Mrs. Jones hesitated for a few seconds, but then she went there driven by two fundamental reasons, first because she was a girl who wanted to know what all this was about, and second because she knew she shouldn't do it. She heard the sound of his footsteps amplifying in the air as she left that first room and entered the second, even more splendid, and at first she could not see anything, but when her eyes adjusted to the gloom she discovered that the The ceiling was at a height she had never seen before. An immense red cloth hung in the background, on a stage of wooden floors with a semicircular shape, and all those empty seats, covered in velvet, that seemed to repeat themselves ad infinitum. She stayed still, because everything in that place was like this, motionless and silent, and without her being able to fully realize it, little Mrs. Jones understood at that moment that, no matter how surrounded she was in life, she would always be a little lonely.

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