Okay, this story is a bit of an experiment. I ADORE blood diamond and while watching it a few nights ago this story popped into my head as it has done since the first time I watched it. Normally I wouldn't sit and write it but this time I decided I would as it is driving me insane. It may seem a bit confusing and pointless to start but I promise you it will get better. Oh, I've also made it so that the film was set in 1993, not 1999. This is just so my character's age fits with the timeline. Please forgive me!
Aida let out a soft sigh as the plane took off the runway at JFK international airport. Her head fell back onto the seat behind her and as her eyes slid shut, a soft, peaceful smile crossed her face.
"You seem happy to be leaving" came a gentle voice from the seat next to her.
Aida opened her eyes and looked at the man who spoke. He had a friendly look about him, in his mid to late thirties carrying a small backpack. He stood out to Aida as a tourist and she couldn't help but smile further.
"You could say that." She responded.
For a few hours, the pair was silent and while Aida pulled out her laptop to play games and keep herself busy, the man fell asleep. Suddenly, the man's head fell forward and not so gently hit the seat in front of him. The bang made Aida jump and he jerked awake, wide eyed. Aida couldn't stop the giggle that emerged at the look on his face. He turned to look at her and she grinned.
"Sorry. You just looked so shocked."
The man waited a few seconds before he too started grinning and joined in her laughter. Once they calmed he indicated to his backpack.
"I'm heading out to do some travelling. My kids are grown up and have moved out, so I figured it may be time to actually do some of the things I wanted to do in life, like going on safari. What about you? What takes you out to Africa?"
For a moment, Aida simply said nothing and the man noticed a look of sadness cross her features, particularly showing in her bright blue eyes. She then looked back at him, all trace of sadness gone. Instead, she smiled.
"I'm going home to be with my family. I was born in Sierra Leone and spent most of my life between there and New York. However, now I've finished school, I've decided to move out here permanently."
The man looked surprised.
"By yourself? Isn't it still a bit too dangerous to be going to Sierra Leona on your own?"
"I guess, but I'm being met at the airport by my godfather, so I'll be safer than if I was totally alone."
The man nodded, and then a thoughtful look crossed his face as he registered what she'd said.
"What about your parents? Will they be going too?"
There was no mistaking the pain in her eyes that time. She dropped her gaze and turned her head away from him to compose herself.
"I'm sorry to ask. Are you okay?" he asked.
"It's fine. To tell you the truth, my mom's a journalist currently out in Libya. She won't be back for another few months so I just decided to move out here as it was too lonely back in New York. Plus, Africa's home for me, you know? It feels right to be coming back."
The man nodded and gave her a warm smile.
"Well, from me to you, I can understand that. The truth for me too is I just recently divorced my wife of twenty years and took my daughter with her. My son's at college so I never really see him either, so I decided to come out here and like I said, do something I've always wanted to do for once."
Aida gave him a soft smile.
"I'm sorry to hear that. Why Sierra Leone though? You want down south for animals."
"I have a friend in Freetown who will be travelling there with me." He replied.
"Ah, that explains it" Aida grinned.
The man nodded and they fell once more into companionable silence. Not long after the call went out to buckle seat belts as they would be landing soon. As the plane finally touched down, Aida's face broke out into a wide smile and she fought to stop herself from bouncing up and down like a child. When the planes stopped, the man stood and extended his hand out to her.
"Well, I hope you enjoy being home" he said.
"Thanks, and I hope you enjoy your holiday...?"
"Tom. I'm Aida. And I hope you get the happiness you deserve."
Tom smiled as they shook hands.
"Thank you Aida. It was lovely to talk to you."
Aida smiled and as Tom walked off, a shiver of excitement ran through her, knowing that in minutes, she would be on home ground.
As she stepped off the plane, Aida heard a deep voice calling her name. She turned in the direction of the voice and grinned as she saw a tall, muscular man with skin as dark as night waving his hand in the air, a wide grin on his face. She caught sight of Tom watching her but no longer cared about that, instead focusing on racing to her friend and jumping up onto him, wrapping her legs round his waist and hugging him tightly.
"Dia! Oh my God! I missed you so much!"
Dia Vandy laughed at the excited young woman and hugged her back just as tightly.
"I've missed you too, Aida. How long has it been? Three years?"
"Four" Aida corrected, a sour look flashing on her face for a moment.
"Well, what matters is that you're back. Now, let's get you to my parent's house shall we?"
Aida nodded enthusiastically and grabbed her bag from where she had dropped it on the floor. They made their way to the customs desk so she could collect the rest of her bags and Aida gave Tm one last smile and wave before he disappeared out of sight.
"Making friends?" Dia teased.
Aida rolled her eyes and elbowed the older man in the ribs. Dia simply grinned and ruffled her hair, earning him a glare. With her head held high, Aida made her way to the desk and handed over her passport so that she could reclaim her possessions. The lady behind the desk returned the passport with a friendly smile and Aida grinned back as she spoke.
"Welcome back to Africa, Miss Archer."