My little Indian in Summer (I.P.)
The departure lounge is packed with frustrated travellers anxiously checking watches as giant screens scroll out details of flight delays and changes to boarding gate numbers.
Sincere apologies flash up and an offer of free drinks and snacks for those delayed.
For the last twenty minutes I had been staring at her through the thick glass of the departure lounge.
It’s her, I’m convinced of it.
Turn, turn, turn, I plead, look in my direction, please.
My heart pumped, it has to be at least twenty, twenty-five years or so since I last saw her.
We had grown up together, in the same street, same school, same interests and on the first Summer camp, a searingly hot sunny day where I blurted out, I love you.
I was twelve years old.
As I look at her my mind flashes back to that time when we all vied for her attention, seeking approval for the daring deeds we performed, pick up the knife was one of the tasks set.
I remember it was my turn for the swing, determined to fly higher than anyone else I wrapped the frayed rope around my arms and threw myself off the ledge, the rock pool far below a distant blur. Three wide arcs I completed before sweeping down to grasp the bowie knife stuck into a log, the blade slashed my fingers, blood flowed as I struck the tree breaking a rib.
When you looked into my eyes I remember saying I love you then died in your arms.
Four years later the Jamboree, a cultural event where scouts and guides from all over the world gathered on the island. Our secret island, which we had already explored together hand in hand in search of more achievements to add to our tally of badges.
I was the explorer who could provide food from the land, fish the wild seas, navigate by the moon and stars. You were my Little White Dove, the Indian squaw I had rescued and was guiding to safety, fighting black bears, wolves and wading through crocodile infested rivers along the way.
The sign language we had learned, speaking in silence as we trekked through the forest, a bond the others never achieved.
Her queue lurches forward towards the boarding gate, she checks the screen and turns.
My frenzied waving catches her eye, for what seemed like ages nothing registers, then she smiles.
‘Gosh, Jack, what a surprise, how are you? where are you going? she signs.
I’m amazed she can till sign after all this time, I frantically sign back.
“I’m fit and well, off to Europe, and you?’
‘We're all going back to Canada!’
‘We…? my fingers work to the bone desperate for information.
Yes, me, Joe and the kids, I have three of them.’
‘Yeah, Joe we met at Summer World camp way back don’t you remember him?
Joe, how could I forget him, a tall Canadian about eighteen or twenty years old, taller than me, stronger than me, could run faster than me, his shirt was covered in a thousand achievement badges. I didn’t like him.
‘I don’t think so’ I lied. ‘So, what do you do in Canada?’
‘I’m a teacher, and you?’
‘An architect, I design affordable housing solutions and…’
‘Sorry Jack,we need to go now, our flight’s been called, you take care now’
There was so much more I wanted so say, I wanted to tell her I still loved her, hold up my hand and show her the scars from the knife blade.
I bet Joe never broke a rib or shed any of his blood for love and if she and Joe ever broke up I would look after her and the kids.
Go back and live on our secret island, set up camp and live out endless hot Summers for ever.