Passenger Alice From Flight AZE5786
Long-Listed in the Borders short story competition
Organised by Penguin Random House and Hiive in 2016
London Airport, 11p.m. Just border control to cross and I’ll finally be home.
Luckily, the hall is empty, except for the row of customs officers waiting for me behind their counters. I trot down a waiting line, burning with excitement to get on with it.
Without a word, a female officer in a tight uniform greets me with an open palm extending over her desk. I hand her my open passport.
“Where do you come from?’’ her monotone voice asks.
“It’s a bit complicated,” I begin, “you see, I’m half French half American but I’ve lived in England for most of my life before moving to study in…”
She stares at me: “And your flight was coming from?”
“Berlin, Germany,” I reply.
Her eyes twitch, it seems I’ve mentioned one country too many: “Your profile does not comply with our current regulations.”
I can only witness the officer’s last disapproving look at my passport before she rips off my headshot and bins the remaining document into a nearby paper shredder.
I have no time to protest as she lays two brand new passports in front of me.
“New laws no longer allow citizens with a multicultural background into our nation. Your address, place of birth, and nationality must be in the same country. Considering your profile, I can offer you an American passport. We’re out of German, British and French ones, though Spanish is more or less the same as French and is also an option.”
She waits for me to make a choice, impatiently taping her fingers on the desk.
Bewildered, I point to what feels like the most appropriate option: the American passport.
“As a Transatlantic citizen, refer to my colleagues in control hall 2, this is the Neighbouring countries checkpoi…”
I hand her the Spanish passport before she can finish. She scribbles on the first page before pasting my headshot.
“It’s better if your name fits with your Spanish heritage. You’ll see, things will be much easier for you this way.”
As I walk into the arrivals hall, I spot my parents waving at me. I wonder how easy it will be to explain my name is now Alicia, I was born in Spain and currently reside on 56 Calle de Velasquez in Madrid.
– By Alizée Musson