Short story by Iris Carden
It all seemed so routine, I still don’t understand how it all got out of hand.
I put my handbag, iPad and phone in the tray to go through the x-ray machine while I walked through the airport security area. It was straightforward.
When I picked up my tray on the other side, however, a security officer stopped me.
“What’s that for?” she asked. She picked up a small spring that had somehow become hooked on my bag.
“No idea,” I said. “I’ve never seen it before.”
“It’s attached to your bag,” she said.
“I don’t know how it got there.”
“Really? Not been doing any DYI lately?”
She muttered something into a microphone.
The next thing I knew two more security officers had turned up and I was being taken to a small room that had a desk, a couple of chairs and no windows.
A man at the desk waved to me to sit on one of the chairs. He asked for my ticket, boarding pass and passport. I handed them over.
“So why are you travelling today?” He asked the question without introducing himself first.
“I’m going on holiday. Going to the Christmas markets in Germany. I’ve read about them and they seem really, ah, interesting.”
“Are you a member of any religious group?”
“Well, I go to church.”
“Anything radical about this church you go to?”
“Well, we voted in favour of gay marriage. That turned out to be a lot more radical than we realized.”
Another security officer arrived in the room with my checked-in luggage; a pair of identical suitcases.
“Open them.” The man behind the desk instructed.
I opened the first case. It had my clothes, toiletries, make-up. All the things you’d normally expect to take for a holiday. I opened the second case, and it was empty, exactly as I had left it.
“Why an empty bag?” asked the man behind the counter.
“I’m going to the Christmas markets. I’m planning to buy Christmas presents for my family and friends there, and I needed to bring the things back.” It sounded stupid as I tried to explain it. “It’ll be a bit late for Christmas by the time I get back, but…” I added unnecessarily. “OK, I admit it. I’m flying from the southern half of the planet to the northern half just for a shopping trip! It’s a stupid thing to do, and pointless burden on the environment, but I’m doing it anyway!”
It was the first time the man behind the desk showed any kind of emotion. He roared with laughter.
He handed me back my papers, and said, “We’ll put your bags back on the plane. Enjoy your shopping trip, and Merry Christmas.”