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I’m sitting at a terminal in Charles de Gaulle Airport, wondering about the last time I washed my hands. It’s crowded and no one is making eye contact. I don’t know much about Charles De Gaulle, besides that he was a man in old black and white photographs and projected an air of heroism. I assume he’s in a mausoleum somewhere, decorated with flowers and an eternal flame. I think nothing more of it and haul my bags along until Charles de Gaulle’s Ghost cuts in front of me at Security.
He gives me a dignified look of thanks, his hand at the hilt of his ghost sword, but in a nonthreatening way. He grows impatient with the long screenings and walks through the x-ray machine, coming out the other side. He helps an old woman locate her shoes and resumes on his way. I don’t see him again until I board my flight.
The plane is at 70% capacity, which surprises the flight attendants. They expected something closer to 30. All the passengers ignore their assigned seating and separate to appropriate distances. Charles de Gaulle’s Ghost remains in the seat next to mine, respectful of the rules. No one faults him, or perhaps they can’t see him. He looks pleased I made it this far. The plane takes off and leaves Charles de Gaulle’s Ghost behind, hovering in his seated position until gently lowering to the tarmac, unable to depart twice.
I Wikipedia’d his life before I boarded. It turns out he was a hero, but by the end of his life he wasn’t. The plane flies over Atlantis, a place that was until it wasn’t, and lands in America, where I used to live until I didn’t. I get off the plane and wash my hands, unsure of whether it will matter.
Simon Nagel is a writer from California that now finds himself in the United Kingdom. He has built a house, worked in an immigration law firm, and dabbles in printmaking. He recently finished his debut novel “Gates to Nowhere.”