The flight attendant smiled, said welcome to Paris in French, her words unspooling in the current to dance a moment before they coasted off. Had she made another phrase it could’ve been the same, he could’ve smiled and moved on. Or he could’ve stood a bit too long in the doorway of the plane to let her voice drape silky and red over his ears.
He couldn’t see it from the jetway, but the sky above him would’ve been creamy and blue, streaked with vaporous clouds as long as the horizon, as thin and fluid as the curls of glass inside of marbles.
He would’ve slipped into a pool of voices melting through the airport, warmed by light that might’ve poured through window-walls in nearly opaque sheets. At the right angle, they would’ve cut through and lit a universe of dust, a thick array of floury galaxies that swept into the drafts of hurried tourists and settled loose in coils that hung like smoke in the conditioned air.
He would’ve tried to hold his breath but then desist and let it go. And when he did he would’ve seen the richly swirling grains escape him, mixing with the others until he lost them in the prolix mass.
In front of him there would’ve been a slow, black path to carry people and their things, flowing down the terminal like a silent brook that couldn’t make a turn.
A child might’ve floated on that brook, standing with her mother. On her back there would’ve been a bag that looked like an animal, plush and brown and grinning, with its furry arms wrapped over her shoulders holding on. She would’ve turned to watch him as they passed, looked at him without a smile and waved her tiny hand. He would’ve waved and smiled back, and she’d have turned again, overjoyed, to tell her mother as they drifted slowly off.
A sharper beam of sunlight would’ve crossed his face and warmed him.
He stepped into the jetway, and it lurched under his weight. He felt the air cut sharply through its metal joints and smelled the rain.
The terminal was empty, save a child and her mother on a black conveyor. They moved strangely rakish, as if swept by rapids, the child’s hair whipping in her anxious little run.
He felt the breeze bear down and moved toward the exit.