Home > Watermelon (Walsh Family #1)(9)

Watermelon (Walsh Family #1)(9)
Marian Keyes

I suppose it would help matters slightly if I was one of those well-organ- ized people who somehow manage to stand near the start of the carousel. But instead I'm always down at the far end, squinting and standing on tiptoe, trying to see what's coming out of the hatch, and when I finally see my bag emerging I'm so afraid that someone will steal it that I can't stand patiently and wait for the carousel to deliver it to me in due course. Instead I run to catch it before someone else does. Except that I usually find it im- possible to breach the tightly knit cordon of other people's baggage carts. So my bag sails serenely past me and circumnavigates the carousel several times before I'm able to grab it.

It's a nightmare!

28

This time, to my surprise, I managed to secure myself a place quite near the hatch.

Maybe people were being nicer to me because I had a baby about my person.

I knew she'd come in useful.

So I waited at the carousel, trying to be patient, jostling with all the other people who had just gotten off the flight, buckling at the knees every so often as a fellow passenger delivered a killer blow to the back of my ankles with his cart.

I made eye contact with as many people as possible, hoping to convince them not to steal my bags. Isn't that the kind of advice criminologists give you? You know the stuff I'm talking about. That if you've been taken hostage you must befriend your captor. Make eye contact with him, so that he realizes that you're a human being and so is less likely to kill you.

Anyway. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Nothing happened for the longest time.

All eyes were trained on the little hatch for the first glimpse of our suit- cases.

Nobody spoke. Nobody even dared to breathe. Then suddenly! The noise of a carousel starting up!

Great!

Except it wasn't ours.

An announcement over the loudspeaker. "Will passengers recently ar- rived from London on Flight E1179 proceed to carousel number four to reclaim their baggage."

This, in spite of the fact that the screen above carousel two had confidently assured us for the last twenty minutes that our baggage would shortly be making an appearance there.

So a mad scramble to carousel four. People shoving and pushing as though their lives depended on it. And this time no one seemed quite so concerned about the infant in my arms.

As a result I was at the very end of the new carousel.

And for a while I was all right.

Calm even.

I tried to look determinedly cheerful as one by one the people around me rescued their bags.

But when the only thing left on the carousel was a set of golf clubs that looked as if they had been there since the late seventies and they had passed me for the fourteenth time and

29

my baby and I were the only human beings left in the arrivals hall and the tumbleweed had started blowing past me, it was finally time to read the writing on the wall.

"I knew they'd get me one day," I thought, feeling sick. "It was only a matter of time. I bet it was that old lady with the rosary beads. It's always the quiet ones."

I began to run up and down, my baby in my arms, frantically searching for an official. Eventually I found a little office with two fairly jovial looking porters within.

"Come in, come in!" one of them invited me as I hovered uncertainly by the door. "What can we do for you on this fine wet Irish afternoon?"

I launched into my story of my stolen bags and car seat. I was nearly in tears again. I felt so victimized.

"Don't worry, missus," I was assured. "They're not stolen. They're only lost. I'll find them for you. I've got a hot line to St. Anthony."

And sure enough, about five minutes later he returned with all my lug- gage. "Are these yours, love?" he asked.

I assured him that they were.

"And you're not going to Boston?"

"I'm not going to Boston," I agreed as evenly as I could manage.

"Are you sure?" he asked doubtfully.

"Quite sure," I promised.

"Well, someone seemed to think that you were, but never mind. Off you go now." He laughed.

I thanked them and hurried toward the "Nothing to Declare" line.

I rushed through with my cart and my baby and my retrieved luggage. My heart sank as one of the customs men stopped me.

"Easy, easy," he said. "Where's the fire? Have you anything to declare?"

"No, I haven't."

"What's that you've got there?"

"It's a baby."

"Your baby?"

"Yes, my baby."

My heart had nearly stopped beating. I hadn't told James

30

that I was leaving. But had he guessed that I would come here? Had he told the police that I had kidnapped our child? Were all the ports and air- ports being watched? Would they take my baby away from me? Would I be deported?

I was terrified.

"So," the customs man continued, "you have nothing to declare but your genes." He guffawed heartily.

"Oh yes, very funny," I said limply.

"A great wit, our Mr. Wilde," said the customs man conversationally. "A venerable gentleman."

"Oh absolutely," I agreed.

"You gave me a terrible fright." I smiled at him.

He assumed a sheriff-type stance and drawl.

"That's okay, ma'am." He winked. "Jest doin' mah job."

It was nice to be home.

31

four

I rushed out into the arrivals lounge. On the other side of the barrier I could see my mother and father waiting for me. They looked smaller and older than they'd looked the last time I saw them, six months before. I felt so guilty. They were both in their late fifties and had worried about me from the day I was born. Well, from before the day I was born, if I'm to be quite accurate, because I was three weeks overdue and they thought they'd have to send a welcome committee in to get me.

I've heard of people being late for their own funeral but I started life with the distinction of being late for my own birth.

And they worried about me when I was six weeks old and had colic.

And when I was two years old and wouldn't eat anything but canned peaches for an entire year. They worried about me when I was seven and doing really badly at school. And they worried about me when I was eight and doing really well at school and had no friends. They worried about me when I was eleven and broke my ankle. They worried about me when I went to a school dance and had to be brought home blind drunk by one of the teachers, when I was fifteen. They worried about me when I was eighteen and in my first year in college and never went to any classes. They worried about me when I was taking my finals and was never missing a class. They worried about me when I was twenty and split up with my first true love and lay in a darkened bedroom crying for two

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