A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lionel the barber is at the airport waiting for a sign. 

He sits on the bench in Departures and feels the cold metal through his trousers. All around him, people move with purpose, pulling suitcases or children by the arm. Even those waiting, are waiting with purpose. 

Lionel has a purpose too. Yesterday he taped a note to the shop window. Then he went home and filled a suitcase with his clothes. It was difficult to pack when he didn't know where he was going. 

At the airport, he buys a can of ginger ale and returns to his seat. On the screen, departing flights are listed in alphabetical order. Amsterdam, Athens, Buenos Aires. He squints through his glasses, reading the destinations and boarding times. Lionel sucks hard on the straw and feels the soda fizz in his nose. 

Waiting for a sign is difficult. There are many things that seem like signs that aren't, and many tiny things that are actually huge signs. 

Like the map of London someone forgot on the seat beside him. A sign? No. The family who pass speaking Chinese? No. 

But the other day, he was trimming Bob Laxton's neckline and his hands were aching on account of his arthritis. Lionel heard the overhead fan whirring round and he thought: "I'm going to die without ever seeing any place but here."

One by one, the flights listed on the screen disappear. Lionel eats two bags of M&M Peanuts, and one Monte Christo sandwich he purchases from the vending machine.

The last flight of the day is to Reykjavik. Lionel tries to imagine himself in Iceland. It's difficult. He pictures a vast and frigid landscape. He doesn't want to go there at all. 

But then he imagines returning to work tomorrow and peeling the notice from the window. He sees the floor littered with sad curls of used tape. 

"Alright then," he says, standing. 

And Lionel the barber heads to the gate.

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