This article is taken from Stand 235, 20(3) September - December 2022.

Jacqueline Yallop Runway
A tiny sound of extraction in the empty room, the scratch-squeak slide of drawing pin, a scab of plaster.

He seems to hear this sound even above the hum of jeeps, bootsteps, the calls and cries. Even above the guns. Obviously, this can’t be possible but it’s such a distinctive, such a tiny sound, he’s pretty sure of it.

He turns on the hard ground. His hip snags and the pain is sharp again. Still, he’s one of the lucky ones, he knows that. Privileged. Way more privileged than he deserves to be. Way luckier than most. That’s why he’s here, this side of the fence, with space to stretch out.

There’s no sign of any more planes, just stars and the drift of clouds. On one side of him, two women are wrapped together in a blanket, well, a shawl really. The other side there’s the guy with the big blue bag. God knows how anyone got time to pack. He hasn’t managed any preparations beyond stuffing the pockets of his cargoes. Even the zips in his jacket were too fiddly, the way things were, the hurry. Still, he’s got enough. He’s all right. And he keeps check of it all more than he probably needs to, pats down the shape and weight of his belongings: keys and wallet, passport and papers, phone, socks. A shard of bluish grey pottery (small, pointy) he picked up with Azeem the day they drove out of Kabul; a sheet from the office calendar (folded, ...
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