Retreat

No Turning Back beyond this Point, the angry red security sign bellowed.

“No fucking kidding, Mr Sign” Eve thought. She hadn’t been very well on the flight; not well at all. She was wired, agitated and nauseous. Eve had made that journey a dozen or so times before, but Mr Sign’s emphasis on the word NO was panic inducing on this particular visit, like she was being robbed of her free will with every step forward. Where was that damn sign hiding two years ago when the pain started and the drugs flowed from every drugstore with no questions asked? She wondered, broken.

Before she got out of the car at Dublin Airport, her mother squeezed her right hand and told her it was going to be absolutely fine this time, but if for any reason it didn’t feel fine, she was to come home immediately. Eve didn’t even entertain the notion that it would come to that. It was just one of those things people say when they can’t hold your hand and do the hard part for you. She was a grown woman. She wasn’t going to run home to Mammy.

Eve couldn’t deny that she really really didn’t feel fine though. It was so hot in the airport with the manic crowds and their tired sweat.  She stopped dead in her tracks and pulled off her jumper like it was on fire, causing the man behind her to trip over her wheeled case, and his toddler to run head first into her bum. When her head was free from the fire pit, she looked behind and saw a spate of other minor casualties she was entirely responsible for. All because she felt like her jumper was on fire, yet another classic example of how her “selfish actions had directly, or indirectly hurt others”.

“I’m so sorry”, Eve whimpered to herself, burying her sweaty face into her jumper. Feeling the crowds close in, she couldn’t bear to look back at her victims again. Angry voices rumbled around her ears until it occurred to her that if she simply started walking that would make them all go away. She put out her right foot and started off slowly, then it seemed like everything and everyone she was running from got her scent and gave relentless chase. Eve pounded up the escalator, panting hard, flying away from the carnage below, and finally some distance was born between herself and her latest mistake. She spotted the Ladies’ Bathroom and slipped inside.

Eve pushed on the nearest stall door and toppled into the glistening cubicle. She sank to her knees and opened the lid with a bang, certain she would vomit but nothing happened. She rested her cheek on her flattened knuckles, took a series of the deepest possible breaths and hummed along with the white noise of the hand-dryers. She didn’t care that the bathroom was chaotic and she didn’t care that she couldn’t get sick. She didn’t care about anything as the soothing hum kept her together in that increasingly tolerable then and there. Taking yet another deep breath, Eve decided she needed to find her way to the Departures Hall to steer herself back home…to Mammy.

“Not today, U.S.A.. I’m not quite ready for you,” Eve softly whispered out the window of another crowded plane hours later, as she headed for familiar airspace; an exquisite, white flagged retreat.

 

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