Review of ‘Terminal 2’ by Annetta Zelley

The second item that I chose to review from Issue 1 of kiss me hardy is Annetta Zelley’s short story ‘Terminal 2’, which I recognise as coming from the ‘Two to tango’ exercise that I did last semester.

Image from kiss me hardy Issue 1

To me, this is a much more successful piece of writing than the poem reviewed in my previous post.

The illustrative image next to the thumbnail is an image showing a deserted airport lounge looking out onto the runway – a little unrealistic in my experience of crowded airport lounges!

The story describes a woman’s experience landing at an airport and making her way to customs control, deftly summing up the social interactions of strangers. We hear the thoughts of the protagonist, Alice, as she muses on what she has in her bag and the process she will go through, and then sees someone that she would rather not see.

The interaction between them is acerbic and we learn their history – Rebecca is not much older than Alice, but is now partnered with Alice’s father. Rebecca flaunting a picture of the new baby and her father prompts Alice to tell Rebecca that she has sick on her shoulder, thus enabling her to get rid of her rage at her father’s betrayal.

The scene and situation is well known to anyone who has travelled through international airports. I do, however, wonder if the two travellers would actually have met in this way, as people entering through customs control are usually in a separate area to those about to depart – but this may be different at different airports.

Alice’s thoughts are described in such a realistic way that the characters seem authentic. We are all bound by convention to some degree, and can empathise with someone not wanting to make eye contact with strangers and trying to be polite to someone that they can’t stand. The stilted interactions build up the tension of the situation. The comeback that concludes the story, and Alice’s action of turning around and walking away, release that and resolve the story, leaving the reader doing a mental fist-pump in celebration of Alice’s actions.

At 856 words, the story is easily digestible. The pace is good and the action keeps the reader engaged from start to finish.

I think that this story holds a well-deserved place in the journal.

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