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Now Boarding At Gate 11

Posted on 12-05-2017

It all was so nonchalant to begin with. I landed on an expectedly cloudy Tuesday morning, swiftly got through immigration, and headed for the exit. The chilly air had already made its presence felt in the arrivals hall, and I was looking forward to welcoming even the slightest bit of warmth that I could find on the Underground. Yet there he was, just as I rounded the corner towards the trains. We hadn’t arranged to meet when I arrived, at least not until much later in the week, but there he stood, hands in his jacket pockets, not smiling or giving anything away – though I knew already that his mind was trying to decide if this had been a mistake. I walked up to him, to the face that I had only known through late-night Skype conversations and blurry WhatsApp images.

“This is a nice surprise”

His mouth breaks into a smile, his body relaxes, and he pulls me forward into an embrace I’ve waited months to feel. I smell the musky leather from his jacket, entwined delicately with a distinct fragrance that dances on my nose with soft floral accents. I breathe it in deeply like some sort of drug, finally pulling away to return his smile. The ride into the city is interrupted by the only occasional question or two – the silence envelops us in a comforting manner, as the drizzle outside kisses the car windows.

The apartment exudes an expectedly strong, masculine vibe. Large furnishings, dark and distressed, dominate the rooms as I walk through. I glance at the lamp with some football team’s banner draped over it and I resist the urge to roll my eyes slightly. He catches my gaze and laughs gently, leading me into the master bedroom. A beautiful four-poster bed sits powerfully in the center of the room, while a short corridor leads to the immaculately arranged walk-in closet and bathroom. I run my hands gently over the neatly pressed shirts and look over the furiously polished shoes, all exactly where they need to be. I wonder to myself if this is the future I would be walking into – a future where I am cataloged and filed away into a little hobby hole for his occasional amusement.

“Shall we head out to dinner?”

He cleans up so well. It’s something that I’ve loved about him. His refusal to acknowledge his boyish handsomeness is endearing, though occasionally tiring.  He is dressed in a soft grey suit and matching trousers, with a dark blue cashmere sweater underneath. It’s a somewhat safe look to pull off, were it not for the bright bundle of fabric peeking out of his jacket pocket. This in fact was not a pocket square, but actually a pair of my underwear that I had bunched up and challenged him to flaunt for the rest of the evening. Not one to walk away from a challenge, he obeyed, and I can’t help but be slightly disappointed at how easy it all was. Our meal is immaculate, and hours later we are entwined on his bed, tipsy on wine but drunk on each other’s passions.

“Final call at Gate 11”

The humidity greets me like an old friend, wrapping itself around me and covering every inch of my skin. I feel myself slipping back into my routine – the same people, the same drives around the city, the same places to see. I stop by a department store and comb through the men’s fragrances, my fingers dancing over each bottle like some invisible scented concerto. I spray each one gingerly into the air and take a gentle sniff, repeating this over and over until finally a familiar scent returns and my fingers wrap around the precious bottle as if my life depended on it. “This is a good selection, sir”, the checkout girl says as she packs it away.

“I know,” I reply as if on cue. “It reminds me of home”

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