The plane landed with a bump. Rose squeezed herself into the seat and when she opened her eyes the plane was still racing along the runway so she dug her forefingers into the rectangular metal ashtrays and closed her eyes once more. She had tried to learn the national anthem in case, after all, how could she just pick up herself and go all that way and not know a thing. Nobody she knew had learned the British national anthem; they had better things to worry about. United Kingdom. Rose could think of nothing. Two addresses ensconced in a pocket of her handbag, that was it. United Kingdom. Great Britain. The Motherland. Hinglan…
This was it, that moment that had been beckoning as she stood over the grave of her starved child, for whom the corn she had planted in desperation had not grown quickly enough, despite good J.A. sunshine and her nightly prayers. That moment was now real, rapping at her door. The plane had not crashed, even as it had swooped down over the island, pecking like a famished crow at a crumb. She had not been sucked out of the emergency exit, nor had her food got up of its own accord to float around. And there was air enough for everyone, like in a train, really, only you couldn’t open the windows.
The captain spoke a few words. It was a chilly day in London, they could expect repeated drizzly spells. One or two moans on board, one or two jovial remarks that the captain should take them back.
“Thank you for travelling with us. I hope you had a pleasant journey,” the English stewardess speak like a book.
“Very. Tank yu.” Rose stepped out of the aircraft. Into the Motherland.
from Long Time Walk on Water:
‘a journey of self-discovery, beautifully crafted, and one that will leave the reader as changed as Simon’s characters. Highly, highly recommended.’ (Amazon)