The Line

Nasra shuffled forwards in the line. The linoleum squeaked under her rubber soles. On her hip, the weight of her somnolent daughter. In her hand, her passport. The sour smell of body odour mingled with disinfectant. A disembodied voice blared from a speaker. She caught snatches of words she knew. 


Her dress was damp between her breasts, her mouth dry. The official waved another person through. Nasra took another step, hope flowering then deflating in her chest. She clutched her daughter and shifted her to the other side.


The blonde child in front stared at her before hiding in her mother’s skirts. The official nodded and urged them past.


Nasra approached the booth. She handed over her passport and met his eyes.


‘How long are you staying in the United States?’

‘Four weeks.’


He picked up the stamp and struck two pages of her passport. Nasra dared to smile.  


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