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The Art of Navigating

“Passports.”

I hand the balding man my passport. My boyfriend follows suit, a small shake detectable in his hand as he lets it go. My eyes widen. You are white, Ryan, why the fuck are you nervous? You don’t get to be nervous going through customs! The man glances up from my passport and gives me a raised eyebrow. I’m sweating between my boobs and I just know it’s collecting in the band like a goddamn sweat hammock. I started to wonder what it was about doing absolutely nothing wrong, that made you want to prove you were doing absolutely nothing wrong.

“Reason for traveling?”

He’s directing this question at Ryan even though his blue eyes are examining my hijab with the same keen eye of the drunk girls in clubs who tell me that I, “actually look, surprisingly, like, kind of cute?” I look over at Ryan. He’s now shaking like we’re part of an underground sex toy operation and the vibrators he’s trying to smuggle into London all turned on at once. This anxious son of a bitch. He’s nervous for me! I want to explain to the agent. He’s worried my hijab will make navigating the airport difficult for me, which would be cute if it was my hijab that was the problem and not the people judging me for it.

“We’re, um. We, uh,” Ryan clears his throat loudly. A piece of my soul departs. “We’re visiting family,” he finishes weakly. I nod. Way to stick that landing, son.

“For how long?”

“Two weeks,” I interject. “We’re staying with my parents in Kensal Rise.”

The agent gives a slow nod. Suddenly he’s stamping both of our passports with the agility and forcefulness that comes with spending eight hours a day knowing you can deny someone entry to an entire country. He hands them to us. Ryan looks proud of himself for managing not to faint. I sigh.

Ryan hugs me tightly once we’re past the customs booth. “I don’t know how you do that so often,” he says. I forget to respond, already thinking about the long tube ride before I can shower.


Flash Fiction by Dionne Sims

Published in Summer 2017

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