The things that follow you

The pilot’s voice cracks over the intercom. A thirty minute delay.

Passengers on the plane begin to fidget, craning their necks to glimpse the flight attendants. They grab the magazines who wait, knowingly in the neatly organized seat pockets.

I shrug and return to my music, enjoying the cool air blowing on my face. Souk buses never announce delays.

The passengers sitting near me stare at my hands. The henna is etched in deep, dark triangles on my palms. My fingertips are black. I look up, searching for their eyes to explain.

“This is traditional where I live,” I want to say proudly. I stop myself.

I start fidgeting now. The man in the seat next to me has taken ownership of the arm rest, his elbow inching nearer and nearer to my thigh.

My heart starts to race.

Moments on the train, on the bus, in the grand taxi, come roaring back, flooding my mind. All of a sudden my eyes start to tear up.

I ram my elbow into his, to let him know my discontent. I take deep breaths.

Once more I look down at the patterns on my hands. Morocco is following me on this vacation in more ways than one.

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