The Last Goodbye...

Written by Raphi Solarsh 

The Outsider by Hung Lin

The Outsider by Hung Lin

 … was easy too. They sat near the check-in desks in silence, as she filled in her departure card, unsure what to say. There was nothing left to say. It had been a week that withered under a blanket of words. There was still hope for the first few days but repetition of plans and possibilities and contingencies failed to transform hope into fact. This was it, they were almost done and neither were sure how they got here or if this was what they really wanted.

She hadn’t expected to like Bangkok. In fact, part of the reason she took the offer was because she knew she wouldn’t be able to stay forever. When she left she fully planned to come home at the end of her contract. But after a few weeks the noise, the humidity, the dynamism, the complexity, began to animate something in her and the thought of home started to seem sterile, ordinary, lacking. She dismissed it as novelty but it didn’t go away and as she met people from India, from Chile, from Norway, from Japan, she saw the same thing awakened in them. They knew instinctively what her best attempts at explanation to him, friends and family back home failed to express.

On her first visit home, they met up for lunch but the menus were delivered to an empty table. For two weeks they inhabited a world of their own, which they filled with all that had remained unsaid during that first frivolous summer. Their parting was imminent but this time they said goodbye only in body, determined not to lose each other again. It was only for a few months after all.

Then six months, then eight, then twelve and after a year of brief and intense reunions in beautiful places and countless hours of talking to each other on screens their real lives remained stubbornly separated. He had built a life he loved at home and only needed her to return to complete an unlikely picture of happiness. She’s had her fun, I’ve been patient—he thought—it’s time.

She wanted to come home but also didn’t. She, who had wanted more than anything else to find direction, to be doing something she felt invested in and inspired by had found it and wasn’t sure whether she could give it up.

Still, there was no anger between them only mutual recognition of pride and unspoken understanding that neither wanted to make or receive self-sacrifice.

He looked up at the huge digital clock above the departures screen. She started to cry and gathered up her things. They walked to the security gate in silence. Their time was up. He wanted to say the word goodbye out loud but couldn’t and they stood hands clasped just looking at each other. They kissed for what they were almost sure was the last time and parted. She wiped her face and forced a smile for the security officer who checked her ticket and passport impassively. Before she disappeared around the corner she chanced a look back. He was still standing there but she couldn’t read his face. She smiled. He lowered his eyes and when he looked up she was gone.

 

These pieces appear in Oxy-moron - a flash fiction zine that juxtaposes two related themes in a single handmade issue. Published by the Bowen Street Press.