Arrival - Rota, Spain
The heat hit me first, then the scent of oranges and hot asphalt. Going from the shaded interior of the plane to the steps that led down to the runway jarred me, sweat prickling on my skin in an instant. My mother held my hand as we descended, the aluminum stairs ringing hollow until we stood on solid tarmac. She shifted my brother, his hair bleached blond by summer and shining white in the glare.
The sun was hotter here, brighter, the sky overhead a hard blue shell to be cracked and taken apart. We followed the line of travelers, making our way toward the airport and the customs area. Orange trees marched in an orderly line along the building, fruit visible through glossy dark leaves.
Inside we stood with our bags, men in tan uniforms inspecting and passing them on. I was just tall enough to see over the top of the table, to meet the eye of a man with black hair and a trimmed mustache. The smile he gave me, brief and gone when I blinked, crinkled the corners of his eyes and softened him. Blue passports were stamped and handed back to be shoved in my mother’s purse for safe keeping. Then we passed on, into a throng, into all the other arrivals and departures, the people starting out or leaving behind.
We walked through the airport together, the coolness giving way to heat once more as we stood on the other side, landed in a foreign country.