( by Dorothy Simmons. First published in Time: Anthology of Microlit edited by Cassandra Atherton)
Over 50,000 people are in the air right now. But she’s not one of them. On the wall of the departure lounge, the pretty poster child stares endlessly out of the plane window. How much longer? She glances around: why doesn’t the overloaded sky fall in, squash all these chicken lickens? What does right now mean anyway? When it’s already right past, no sooner said than gone? How did they count the 50,000? When? How can they know for sure? They could redefine cloud streaming, some kind of cumulo-nimbus conveyer belt… which her father, hands clasped in prayer, bound for glory, would simply rocket straight through. Her dear departed Dad: like that Irish comedian he used to quote, may your God go with you.
Boarding now, they said: five minutes later, please return to your seats. Why? What have they found? Some ticking time bomb? Should she be grateful instead of irate? Isn’t it better to be late than… the late?
The gold braided steward is talking to his mobile again. Do we have lift off? Can we join the 50,000?
Boarding passes, please. Finally. Why? No answer. Nobody knows. Nobody ever did.