The plane lands with a thud, brakes screaming as we hit the runway. Cabin lights dim and then brighten. Rain lashes the windows and grey clouds hang low over the airport.
I tumble down the slippery steel steps, at the rear of the plane on to the wet and greasy tarmac. The wind grabs at my flimsy coat and cut me to the bone, my port slips in my hand. My fingers are turning blue with the cold. An argument starts in my head.
‘What the hell am I doing here? What the fuck do I hope to achieve? And fuck it to hell why wasn’t I wearing warmer clothes? After all, I was coming home to Melbourne’.
Head down, bending into the wind while my coat slaps my legs, I head to the artificial, steamy warmth of the terminal building and the baggage carousel.
Sixty minutes later I adjust the soiled seatbelt of the shiny hire car, I head out of the airport. I have a four-hour drive in front of me. The argument in my head continues.
‘You’re a fruitcake, its as black as …well you know, the roads have changed. You haven’t been here for fifteen years. You idiot. Do you really think you can do this drive at night, in the dark! What if you drive off the road and into the sea?’
Self-doubt starts to nibble and my confidence level plummets past zero. I am paralyzed by fear, inertia gnaws at my gut. The car beeps once, a second and third time each beep more insistent than the one before it.
‘Fancy fucking car, what the hell is wrong?’
In the dark I see the lights coming toward me. Oh, Christ! I am on the wrong side of the road. I swing the wheel back urging the car to follow without spinning out. The car rocks as the lights whiz past, horn blaring.
‘Concentrate you fool. Look what happens when you don’t concentrate’.
I scream into the darkness of the cabin, ‘for god’s sake SHUT UP you nearly got me killed’.
Silence fills the car. I turn up the radio full blast, the quiet is unnerving. The rest of the trip is uneventful. I stop at a layaway for fuel and a hot meal. I’m in such a hurry to get home I burn the roof of my mouth on the bloody burger. I gulp it down and choke on the crumbs. I suck the gooey bbq sauce off my fingers and chase it down with a Pepsi.
Back in the car, the key in the ignition, I turn it and the car roars to life. I head off down the highway. Not far to go now.
Dawn is breaking, a rosy pink sky flushed with gold I wind down the window I can smell the salt tang of the sea. I have arrived.
The door to the house is wide open. “Mum I’m home”
No answer. Just me and the house.