Safe Travels

The almost absolute lack of TSA security measures in "your" queue is both insult and carrot, but as long as they still feel the need to offer a carrot things aren't really that bad. You mostly try to believe this when your son is looking at you with the relaxed smile of the unscared. It makes it easier to smile back.

Boarding is unnervingly fast, the plane small and old, the uniform rows of dark skins and headscarves an insult, the lack of angry whispers a carrot. You try to focus on your son, who's excited about his first flight although pretending not to. You think, and hope, he doesn't notice how everybody in the plane resembles his own family, or that he doesn't think they do — that he thinks skin and dress less important than the way some kids like soccer and some prefer VR games.

Believing this would make him a good man. Trusting that everybody does could get him lynched one day. For now, he sees neither carrots nor insults here, just a small window, the ground falling, and then the sky.

It breaks your heart as much as it lifts it, but when he looks again at you you'll be waiting with a smile. And later de-boarding will be quick and your terminal will be small and somehow quaint, and you know one day you'll have to talk with him about such things, but for now you just look at his breathless expression reflected on the plane window, and tell yourself it isn't selfish to wish for you both just a little bit more of sky.

.finis.