“A Father’s Kiss” was written for last week’s Microcosms flash fiction competition. The prompts were reporter, airport, and memoir.

A Father’s Kiss

Flight MN101 from Cape Town to OR Tambo in Johannesburg landed 30 minutes late. Neil pulled himself from the cramped chair and dragged himself and his laptop bag down the carpeted corridor towards the luggage collection point. He wasn’t sure how many times his suitcase had passed him before he grabbed the handle. The cold plastic brought him back to the present. The din of the airport rushed into him, crushing his chest.

Behind the glass doors families, friends, and taxi drivers waited. Some more patient than others, a few holding gifts for family who most likely came to visit from their new homes overseas. He swallowed. Today only a taxi driver would be waiting for him. And he would not cry in front of these strangers.

Neil scanned the row of taxi drivers until he spotted his name on a placard. Feet stuck in molasses, he dragged himself past the families sharing kisses, handshakes, and greetings in a cacophony of languages.

His father still kissed him hello even though he was in his twenties, greeting him with a hand filled with balloons. He didn’t think he’d miss it so much, but his father always reminded him that his work as a reporter was fraught with danger. Seeing his son safe and whole over Christmas and Easter was a godsend, he always said.

He held out his hand to his taxi driver.

“I’m Neil.” He tried to smile, but it didn’t work. Tears started streaming. “They killed my father. Robbery.”

The driver nodded knowingly, took his suitcase, offered a tissue. There was nothing else to do.

“It wasn’t even important enough for the newspaper to cover.” New tears.

“My brother as well.” The driver’s eyes turned red.

Everyone knew about the faceless, nameless ‘they’ – and no one was left untouched.