Im leaning against a wall in the plane, sitting up I look at the curtain across the room, it starts to move than gets faster and aggressive, like it’s fighting the wind to stay straight. The curtain starts to open in the centre and Jamal’s back is coming towards me. As soon as he gets through the curtain he turns and an un-stoppable smile comes to his face. He is holding a rather large wooden tray with, toast, two bowls of what looks like chicken soup, two glasses of milk, chocolate, and a blue bowl filled with bananas, apples, strawberries and other various fruits. Lowering himself carefully to sit down on the floor he sits down opposite on the floor and places the tray between us. Before I have time to say anything he says cutely, “that’s chicken soup, I hope you like it, I’ve heard chicken soup for the soul can be amazing, well that’s what they title of a book I once red is called.” He chuckles quietly to himself. “Thankyou” I say knowing that he didn’t have to do this for me. Before I have time to consider what I blurt out next, “where are you taking me?” the chuckle from the corner of his lips soon fades to sadness. “I can’t tell you, I’m sorry; you will figure it out soon enough. All I can say is that as much as I wish this wasn’t happening to you, in a way I’m glad it did, because I would never have got the chance to even talk to you if it hadn’t.” Tears start to flow down my white cheeks, I manage to create a smile and say “are they going to kill me?” “No. ” Jamal says. “But please eat, we will be landing soon and you won’t get a chance for another few hours. And do me a favour; please don’t try to run again. I’d hate seeing your leg get injured again.” “Okay, I won’t.” there is silence for the next 15 minutes as I try to eat with duct tape around my wrists. Note to self, soup isn’t the best thing to eat when wrists are occupied with duct tape, rope or anything else.”
Jamal gets called again by another guy in a different language. He jumps to his feet and races out through the curtain. Once again I’m left alone. But this time it’s okay, because I’m occupied, I have food, I have to eat.
I don’t have my watch on anymore, they’ve obviously taken it off to wrap the duct tape with more ease around my small wrists. But I here Jamal’s voice getting closer to the curtain and he comes back through it. Im desperately wanting to know the time. Its pitch black outside so I know it’s some part of night or very early morning. I look down at Jamal’s arms; he has a long sleeve black polar fleece jumper on. A bright silver watch hand band is peeking out the bottom, as he walks closer to me, I can make out the watch in its roman numerals, it Is 9:45pm, almost 10:00. Jamal walks over to me and crouches down. He tells me calmly that at 10:05 we are going to land and that I should probably go to the toilet, and splash some water on my face because its apparently going to be another long car drive. He helps me to stand up and guides me through the curtains where some of the other men are sitting around playing a card game, casually talking like everything’s hunky dory. Past their room is another curtain that leads through into the kitchen, than a door of the side of it with a picture of a male and female stick figures. He tells me quietly he will wait for me outside the door. I walk in and look at myself in the mirror, in shock for a few minutes before I realise I’d better hurry up before they break the door down or something. I lower myself down and go to the toilet. Thinking to myself, no-one really has an idea how hard going to the toilet with duct tape around your wrists, is until you’ve tried it. It’s definitely no picnic. Jamal knocks on the door, and im back standing in front of the mirror. I reply “yeah im coming.” I open the door and try to force a smile. He looks at my face and can see tears forming in the corners of my eyes. He grabs my hand and says, “come on, il fix you up.” he walks in the small bathroom with me behind him and pushes the door almost closed. Ripping a tissue out of the box he holds it under the tap and begins to make it damp. Lifting it up he places it under my eyes and takes away some of that, swollen, red, puffy skin from under my eyes. Like the cloth have magical abilities to wipe away sadness. He is looking me in the eyes and smiling at me. For a moment I almost get lost in it. My thoughts are turning scramble, I can’t think. I blink and that feeling is gone. We both hear a bang and he turns back to face the sink to wet the tissue again. He starts to clean my red cheeks. After that he leans down and finds a brush from the cupboard underneath the sink. He pulls my hair out of its messy loose ponytail and begins to brush it. Instead of tying it back up he leaves it out and pulls it around the front. Handing me a new pink t-shirt he giggles to himself and turns around as if to say, ‘I know, privacy. But put the clean t-shirt on.’ I oblige and lift my over dirty sweaty shirt of and place the other one on and pull it around until it’s comfy. I make a coughing sound and he turns back around to face me. It’s a small bathroom and so we are standing closely. We stare each other in the eyes for what seems like a long time. Before he leans in and without a word kisses me on the cheek. I couldn’t believe it. I was over-whelmed by this moment. It will be forever printed in my mind, until the end of time. He stands back, to his old position and looks in my eyes for a little longer. He leans towards the cupboard and pulls out a small red tube of clear, shining lip gloss and applies it to my lips. I start to wonder why he is cleaning me up, brushing my hair, putting lip gloss on me. He’s making me look good for something. The problem is I don’t know what. That’s the bit that scares me. I still manage to draw a smile to my face without looking as panicked by this situation as I feel. After all, my leg was shot, I was hit on the head, I’m tired, still feel sick, and in need of some more water and a shower.
Jamal finishes fixing me up and grabs my hand, and leads me out of the bathroom back towards the lounge room thing. His older acquaintances stare at me with a look of demise as we walk back through their kitchen area. Jamal and I get back to the lounge and he sits me back on the floor, than lowers himself next to me. For the next 15 minutes there is complete silence. Even though there is so much I want to say, want to ask, I hold it in. the compromise, the sadness, the guiltiness of this situation hangs in the warm air, blowing from the old daikon air conditioner.
The plane starts to dive nose, Jamal helps me to the seats and straps me in for landing. I hear the tyres remove themselves from the plane and lower down towards the straight, long stretch of airport. Feeling the tyres hit the tarmac the only thing that crosses my head is “I’m here- wherever here is though” the plane slows as Jamal un- buckles my safety belt. He looks in my eyes as if to say, please don’t try to run again. I nod back in agreement. Jamal’s older co- workers walk into the room, and one viciously grabs me by the arm and yanks me up, and starts pulling me towards the exit door. Walking down I get dragged to a black Holden station wagon. It has tinted black windows and a silver statue on the bonnet, Jamal is told something in the language I don’t understand, and gets thrown the car keys by the elderly guy holding me, obviously he wants Jamal to drive. He gives me one last look and lowers himself diagonally into the front driver’s seat. The rough man holding me pushes my head down and forces me into the back seat of the car, following me as I get in. the other stranger who has gotten in the other side is quickly tidying me up. Fixing my hair, clothes so I’m all pretty even though I still feel like a tired piece of shot, headachy shit. Jamal starts to slow down as we pull into a dim, lifeless driveway. I can faintly hear a small yappy dog barking through closed doors. A light shines through the thin blinds and the vicious guy next to me steps out of the car, and mutters Jamal something. Through the windscreen I can see the rather large outline of a muscly guy. Both of their heads turn to face the car in my direction. Mr vicious as I’ve started to refer to him as, walks quickly back to the car and grabs my arm, as if to try to pull me out. I struggle about but frighteningly climb out and fix my t- shirt up. Jamal looks at me as I walk past the driver’s window and smiles with a tear rolling down his soft cheeks. Mr vicious leads me towards the muscly guy, he attempts to grab my hand, I avoid contact with this stranger. He has horrible looking eyes, they are yellow, with sparks of orangey- brown. His almost shaven hair, spikes up on his forehead. His lips are small and frustrated looking. I stare down at him, even though he has muscle arms, he has a beer gut. Wearing a black suit with dark brown hair sticking out the top of the shirt. Mr vicious and him shake hands than Mr vicious walks back in the direction of the car, tells Jamal to get out of the driver’s seat. Jamal obliges, looks at me one last time, gets in the back, and the car hums away. I’m left alone with this man, why?......