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eberhard grossgasteiger Flight TE 403.jpg

Flight TE 403

Arthur Mandal

She allowed herself to be carried by it, a slow-moving river of people, first the entrance doors of the hotel bobbed towards her, then the ceiling of the enormous foyer gradually arched its way over her head. The list-ticking attendants at the door, eager to separate the grieving from the curious, the distraught from the distracted. She saw them look at her twice before letting her through, as though they had already guessed.


It was sociopathic to feel unaffected by the sadness around her, but her own feelings felt so out of place that there was little else she could react with. She watched people sob, choke, embrace one another as the CEO spoke. The only thing she hugged was her secret. As the uniforms read from their sheets, the suits pointed to different parts of the crowd (at one moment, to her surprise, even to her). The only guilt she felt was that other people’s misery had to coincide with her joy. She wanted to call it ‘unfair’, ‘unjust’, but the muscles inside her mouth were unable to form the words.


She had only come here to make sure he was dead. The wailing and weeping around her became too much. And yet, in certain moments, when she exchanged silent glances with a solemn face here, a blank expression there, she felt she was not alone. She looked around her, tactfully, discreetly, wondering how many more there were like her. Three rows to her right, a man was scrolling through something while his wife sobbed on his arm. To her left, a teenage daughter looked back at her and briefly smiled.


That night she lay in bed, listening to the silence of the house like a tale, feeling the extraordinary radius of freedom around her prostrate body. In the morning, while she had breakfast, the tv was still talking about the event. As she stepped out of the house to go to work, she noticed the fading cluster of snowdrops in a vase in the hallway. They had bought them together the day he left. Each drooping head, at the top of a straining stalk, filled her with reverence.



Arthur Mandal is a writer based in Eugene, Oregon (but grew up in the UK). Alongside writing he works as an independent craftsman and photographer.

His stories have appeared in The Barcelona Review, LITRO, december, 3:AM, La Piccioletta Barca, Nightjar Press, The Summerset Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Sky Island Journal, Impspired, The Signal House Edition, Bending Genres and Orca.

His twitter handle is @ajmandal15

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