MONDAY: Passport Control


Copyright is held by the author.

IT WAS like the mother of all hot flashes: nausea, heart racing, stomach turning, extremities tingling. And the heat. Oh god, that heat that rose through me from the floor where I sat amid our luggage at Air Canada’s check-in.

“Damn, Jack, they must be here. I know they’re here,” my voice wavered.

I pushed my humidity-frizzled grey bangs from my eyes and continued rifling through my things, focused on finding our passports. I was also well into imagining dual horrors: missing our flight and never hearing the end of this.

Goddamn hubris. I thought back to my conversation with our dog-sitter, Annabelle, an hour ago as our taxi waited.

“Got your passports?” she asked.

“Ha! You’re kidding,” I said, laughing at the absurdity of the question. I patted the outside of my cosmetic bag where the cleansers and moisturizers I travel with swim in compartments designed for pre-911 times. For decades, the outside pocket of this bag held travel docs for one. For three years now, it’s held two sets.

There are people who always forget things like Jack; there are people who occasionally forget things; there are people who rarely forget things; and then there’s me. Annabelle knew it, Jack knew it, and I knew it. While I took responsibility for anything important, Jack worried if he had space in his carry-on for the cigarettes and gin he’d buy at duty-free, and whether he had enough underpants for the trip. I always packed a few extras for him because I was never confident he’d tallied the days right.

Yet here I was, sprawled on the floor frantically searching through cosmetic minis, Sudoku, underwear, nightgown, medication, band aids, novels, and a book on Ireland.

“Do you remember where you last had them?” Jack asked gently, a question I’d oft posed to him. His hand was on my shoulder, intending to soothe and let me know we were in this together.

“Don’t touch me!” He hadn’t yet gotten the hang of my mercurial moods or the impact of the darker ones on my civility. “And no, I don’t bloody remember where I last had them! I had them when I put them in this carry-on, obviously. But where the hell are they now? Why did you take them out?”

He looked down at me, laughing. Everything in me was rising — ire, bile, temperature. Instead of giving in to my tendency to explode, I took a moment to breath inspired by a mindfulness program I once took. I thought back to the night before.

“Jack, I have a good idea. With Annabelle here, she can be a resource if we lose our passports. That new printer has a copier, right?” Jack was the king of tech and the basement was always full of printers, laptops, and phones.

“Sure. Give them to me and I’ll copy them,” he’d replied, descending to his smoking cave/office.

“No way! I don’t trust you’ll bring them back. I’ll come with you.” We went down and made the copies. I put the photocopies in plastic covers and left them on the dining room table with other documents Annabelle might need about our trip, our house, and our pets.

“They’re on the copier!” I dialled Annabelle’s number while gathering up my possessions and stuffing them back into my bag. “Thank god I got us here early and we live close to the airport.”

Twenty minutes later, Annabelle’s cab pulled up at the Departures smoking area. It’s where I’d been cooling down physically and emotionally while Jack filled his nicotine stores for the trans-Atlantic flight ahead. It wasn’t unusual for us to be there. It was always our last stop after the baggage is dropped. What was unusual was being there without boarding passes. And I hated it. Annabelle, too polite to comment, handed me the passports through the cab window; I passed her cash for the fare; and she continued back to our house. Waving. Not laughing. I appreciated that about Annabelle.

Twenty minutes later again, we were cheers-ing our beers at the gate. Jack’s boarding card and passport were half hanging out his back pocket. I had lost the power to comment.


Image of Celia Chandler

Torontonian, Celia Chandler won a Canadian Online Publishing Award for her series on her husband’s medically assisted death on in 2020. That kickstarted her writing. Since then she’s been shortlisted in three Wild Atlantic Writers Awards contests; published in Gemini MagazineAriel Chart International Literary Journal, and Months to Years; named a finalist in two WOW Essay Contests; shortlisted for the International Amy MacRae Award for Memoir; and placed 2nd in the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop international writing contest. She publishes a weekly blog at

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