the tamago report

Eggs benedictated

Tag: travel

A SHORT STORY ABOUT AIRPORT SECURITY.

by MDY

Like with icebergs, only 10% of an airport’s mass is visible from the surface. The rest is aluminum warrens, fluorescent-striped holding chambers, and dusty alcoves filled with tech transplanted out of the 1960’s or 2060’s. I heard from an ex-spook friend they even have a tool that searches the cavities of your cavities! But they’re quite shy about it, I think it’s the corporate culture – they only showed me when I told them my sextant was a poison-tipped shuriken.

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A VERY SHORT STORY, ABOUT LONELINESS AND FRIENDSHIP

by MDY

It was summertime and everyone I knew was out playing at the beach, picnicking in each others’ arms, or complaining about losing their passports in far-flung cities. I had read all the books in my house and exhausted my monthly download cap, so to stave off loneliness I built myself a robot.

“You’ll be the friend I always wished for,” I told the robot, “the one who’s always there for me, who won’t ever let work or study or making pancakes get in the way of spending time together. A true friend who’s true to me.”

“Sounds sweet,” the robot said to me. “Hey, wanna smash my head in? It’ll be fun. Real turn-on, if you know what I mean.”

“No way!” I said. “I’m sorry, but this is both morbid and unsustainable for our relationship.”

“See, that’s your problem right there,” said the robot. “You can only make friends when you’re prepared to accept others for who they are. Sure, they may have different hobbies or dreams or bedtime preferences, but that shouldn’t get in the way of having a good time together. And sometimes they’ll have to put other things or people first, but then again so will you, and you’ll both be okay with that. You’ve both gotta be true to yourselves before you can be true to each other.”

“I suppose you’re right,” I said. “Just hold on – my sledgehammer’s in the garage.”

Writing and Friendship

by MDY

“You’ll be best friends by the end of this,” says a customs officer as several hundred plans are turned to dust. And she, by matriarchal wisdom or just the number of cancelled flights she’s seen, is right. Flanged from departure gate to customs hall to motel lobby latched remora-like to the airstrip – “Welcome Home” drawl billboards as wide and tiredly sardonic as our layover – we swap situations, remonstrate at the incident’s handling, trade wise-cracks like the monotonous bullets of a drawn-out palsied war.

I meet a middle-aged couple, the wife peroxide blonde and the husband a frizzy grey stock of bushman, who have already spent a day in the airport after a crisis with their visas. They are both nature photographers, meeting counterparts in India for a hunt of the constructive kind. “Ahmed’s going to shoot all the bloody tigers before we get there,” the man says, without rancour. A woman my mother’s age says it’s for the best, nobody wants another MH code to live in infamy. It’s her first time cancelled and her son and I joke there’s a first time for everything. My closest counterparts are a Malaysian woman and her ang moh husband, heading to Kota K for a wedding followed by a week in Japan. By chance we find ourselves thrown together in buses, hotel queues, and replacement flights the next morning, and the two have a dry wit which I match with my own to while the hours away. We exchange chuckles and nods of déjà vs long onto the flight itself, in the way that only survivors of a minor trauma and its myriad ironies can.

I don’t know the names of any of these people. The details I have written are, apart from their faces and packing styles (photographer-couple is haphazard but inveterate, wedding-guests seem to have brought the house), the sole identifiers that we share with one another, as though by some unspoken covenant of anonymity in crisis. We part without fanfare, separated by the same divine forces (immigration queues, baggage reclamation) that spliced us together. Yet I feel as though I know them, in some ways better than people whose acquaintance I have held for years. You see a person’s true character in times of stress. It strips you of your status and your pretensions, forces out what’s beneath. Some cling to their facades with outrage and entitlement; others rage at the calumny of the gods; but most, surprisingly to me, accept their lot with a grin and a shrug. “It could be worse”. We, unlike the bird whose skull shattered some critical part of our 747’s engine, are not dead. That is good enough.

I’ve never been good at friendships. I like to think I’m a good friend, but I also let more friendships slide and atrophy than most people do. I leave people behind as I change, like first-draft characters who have served their purpose and will be remembered fondly for it, but nothing more. I’ve ended some friendships with harsh scribbling excision, others the quiescence of an eroding seawall. Some hate me afterwards, but most just keep asking why I’ve gone – and I can’t explain to them that in life as in narrative, timing is everything, and when the right time passes all you have is two strangers with an overlap of history.

Is it wrong to end a friendship when its value is gone? My fellow travellers and I came together by circumstance and separated naturally when it had run its course. We were in need of solidarity – the human urge for the group runs deep – but we also knew that to encroach on one another’s lives afterwards would, in some way, corrupt the narrative threads that we were flying to meet in the first place. Nobody wants the dark timeline. Sometimes, when it’s late at night, I hear my favourite characters speak, the homeless hackers and spirit-trees and unemployed skinchangers who I’ve shaped from the putty of my soul. Sometimes, more and more, I love them more than those of flesh and blood. Is it wrong to retreat to imaginary friends after a certain age? Or is it that the more you write, the more you see your friends as words?