Her fingers closed over the ticket, curling it into a small cone, tighter and tighter, smaller and smaller as she twisted. The others couldn’t see that she wasn’t breathing. She didn’t notice.
The blotches of brown and green changed to gray concrete through the glass. The half mirror of her face blended with the colors, only the highlighted bits of her cheek and eyes showing clearly. Her fingers twisted. The ticket crackled in protest. She didn’t notice.
She looked and her eyes saw city buildings while her mind saw the flight in darkness, the morning in a foreign world, the dust and dirt and the eyes—the eyes of the people. They were dark, and wide, and afraid and pained, and she thought they looked a little like hers. Like her half reflection.
She saw her hands, swollen but gripping the camera as if it was her life. The lens’ dark glass caught the colors and the expressions and the darkness. The glass caught and imprisoned it, and it was horrible and beautiful.
She saw her hands, coated in dust, gripping the pen and forcing it across the paper. She heard the weathered voices, cracking in their tongues, tongues that she did not understand with her ears but that she knew. Tongues that broke her heart and made her eyes burn.
She saw her hands, small hands clutching to a cup of bitter tea. She saw her hands, clumsy and fluttering, grabbing at her veil in the wind. She saw her hands, touching and touching and touching, pale against theirs.
She looked down and her eyes saw her bloated hands wrapped around the ticket on her lap. Grimacing at what she’d done, she tried to straighten out the ticket. She lay her hands flat over the edges. And she thought, They are broken. And she thought, I am broken. And she thought, This is insane.
Shadows chased the sun across her lap, across her hands. And she thought, The hands of a healer. She didn’t remember where she had heard that before, but she knew the words weren’t hers and that comforted her somehow. And she thought, May my broken hands heal.
And she added, Heal others.
The wheels rolled to a stop, and she smiled while she winced when she took her baggage from the driver. Twenty hours later, she clutched the camera and the pen and the tea and she thought, May my broken hands bless you.