Posts Tagged airport
Her legs weakened. The line was long and the people seemed to be closing in on her, threatening to swallow her up. She tried to fan herself with her ticket, but the paper was too flimsy to have any affect.
The line seemed to be stopped and she couldn’t see far ahead enough to tell what the hold up was. Her stomach twisted and she felt light-headed. She should have eaten. The tea was not enough. Between the flight, the letter and the farewell from Danno, she was ready to pass out. She put her hand on the man’s back in front of her, trying to steady herself. He turned around and gave her a dirty look. His wife began yelling at her in another language. People turned and stared.
“I’m sorry,” she said, but the woman continued to yell, getting closer to her face. Ala could smell remnants of meat on her breath. Ala’s eyes watered as she felt the fullness make it’s way up her throat. With chipmunk cheeks, she ran out of the line down the hall in the direction she remembered the restroom to be.
There was still a line outside of the ladies room, so she ran into the men’s room and vomited, missing the stall by three feet. She got down on all fours and closed her eyes. She needed to lie down. She needed to eat. She needed someone to tell her that she could make it through the flight if she just stood up, rinsed out her mouth and boarded.
She stared at the puddle. Because she was so hungry, it was mostly frothy bile. She carefully rose to her feet and grabbed a stack of paper towels. She threw them onto the mess and tried to wipe up as much as she could with her foot. The nausea returned and she lied down on her stomach, letting her face rest on the freezing tile.
Her phone rang, and very slowly, she sat up and took it out of her bag. It was Jase calling. She chose to ignore him. Once again she stood up and kicked the soggy paper towels into the corner. She had to get to her seat as quickly as possible. She could relax then, and possibly even get some sleep.
Leaving the restroom, she realized that she had left her suitcase at the gate. This panic brought her to a jog even though she still felt like crawling. The boarding area was empty. She read the monitor to make sure she was in the right place for the flight. Her suitcase was gone. She looked under the row of seats . She went to the personnel desk, but no one was there to help.
It appeared that she had missed last call for boarding the plane. There would have been announcements, but she wouldn’t have been able to hear them while vomiting. She had gotten to the gate as quickly as possible. She would have to find Danno and see if there was a way she could switch to his flight instead. She would also need to report her missing suitcase. She tried to remember if anything valuable was packed inside.
All she could think of was a brooch her mother had given her when she was seven years old. They were Christmas shopping in the city in the middle of a blizzard. The lady who helped Ala’s mother take care of her was supposed to go with to carry bags, but had gotten the flu. It was a very special day for Ala. She and her mother had lunch in the tearoom and she was permitted to order off of the full menu, rather than the children’s portion. They had bought presents for relatives who would be coming in for the holiday, back when Ala’s mother still invited people to come stay.
They hurried through the street, struggling to grip the bags blowing all in directions and made it to the revolving door of the grand department store. This was their last stop of the day. They both laughed with relief as soon as the warm air hit their faces with the rich new perfumes of the season surrounding them, and stepped onto the escalator.
Ala’s mother tried to untangle her purse strap from the cluster of bag handles, when the brooch on her coat fell off. Ala knew this was a gift from her grandmother and followed it with her eyes as it fell against the slatted step.
Ala looked up and saw the steps being swallowed, one by one, as they reached the top. She quickly crouched down to grab the brooch before it fell through the grate. Her small fingers gripped the gilded edge of the large pearl encrusted plate just as her mother turned to see what she was doing.
“Ala! Are you crazy?” Her mother yelled, grabbing the arm of Ala’s coat and yanking her up and off of the last step. She shook her shoulders hard. “Do you want to get your hand cut off?” Ala had no idea the escalator was dangerous. She held out her hand to reveal the brooch, which had pierced and was stuck in the palm of her hand.
“I wanted to save it for you,” she whispered, now embarrassed at the few shoppers watching them.
“That?” her mother scoffed, “Keep it. It’s fake. Come on!”
Ala didn’t realize her mother had meant that the large pearl in the center was not an actual pearl, but painted plastic. She had thought it was the most beautiful piece of jewelry she had ever seen and loved it because her grandmother had loved it. She swallowed hard to avoid crying and pulled the needle from her hand. She followed her mother into housewares, shoving the brooch into her pocket.
She found a seat facing the wall of windows, and slouched down, watching the planes take off. Now the brooch was with whoever stole her suitcase. Even if she reported it missing, she knew she wouldn’t get it back. She felt violated at the thought of someone looking through her underwear.
The plane she was supposed to be on backed out and taxied down the tarmac. Ala opened her purse to make sure that her passport, license and the check from Emmanuel were still inside. It would be inconceivably difficult to leave the airport, had her identification been in her suitcase.
A woman screamed, throwing her hands to her mouth and pointing to the window. Ala whipped her head around to see the fluffy clouds of black smoke floating up from the bright orange flames shooting out under the right wing of the plane. She stood up slowly and pressed her face against the glass.
An emergency chute sprung out and one by one, like wind up toy soldiers, tiny figures slid down and ran. There was a loud pop and people gathered around her at the window in time to see the large fire cloud engulf the plane, flames snaking both wings and all sides. Banging on the glass and screaming continued as Ala squinted ahead, trying to make sense of what was happening. Fire engines and squad cars surrounded the dying star, and the few who had escaped huddled together.
Running commenced with people going in all directions, crashing into one another. She didn’t know what to do or who to call. She would’ve been dead had she made it on in time. At least she had been with him one last time. She heard people shouting and shoes squeaking, babies crying and whistles blowing. She could smell smoke and wasn’t sure if it was from the cigarette she had or the world ending outside.
Danger had followed her. She wasn’t safe being who she was. Her phone rang. She took it out of her bag and, without looking to see who was calling, tossed it in the trashcan, along with her ticket. She put her sunglasses on and looking straight ahead, walked quickly toward the exit of the airport.
Danno drove slowly, letting other cars pass them on both sides of the road. Ala held tightly to his arm, slightly squeezing it every time she thought about bringing up the wallet.
“I feel better,” she said.
“So do I. You look better,” he said, gently rubbing her knuckles with his thumb, sending shivers down her spine. “We should buy some boots at the airport. For hiking.”
“Do they sell them there?” She asked.
“I’m sure. They have everything else you could need. You’ll also have to teach me about all of the poisonous plants and trees to avoid.”
Ala tried to recall the books she had read about Burma. When she first became infatuated with the idea of a visit, she had chosen the books on a romantic whim, rather than practical preparation. Sitting in a dust ridden hidden corner or the library, she had paged through each volume, running her fingers over the pictures printed on the old paper, smiling. The more severe the argument with Jase was, the more seriously she studied the text.
She learned about arrow poisons and gloriosa root. She had chosen a wardrobe from a catalogue fit for hiking through the jungle toward the love temple. It was important to wear sturdy soled shoes, but not anything that could be destructive to the land. All of the clothes she had with her now were frilly and pretty, meant for a summer filled with parties and boat rides. She would have to wear layers until they could find proper gear.
“We still haven’t eaten. Is the club okay?”
“Fine,” Ala said. Danno cared a lot more about the kind of food he ate than she did. Her parents had always ordered out when they were home. Neither could use a microwave properly. Prime rib was a favorite, along with buttered noodles for Ala. It was the only dish she wanted to eat because meat and onions terrified her. Her parents never pushed her to try anything else.
Danno reached into his suit pocket and pulled out an envelope.
“This was in the mailbox,” he said, handing it to her.
She felt the grain of the thick ecru paper that she remembered to be Emmanuel’s stationary. It matched the envelope from the letter he had given her which proposed the summer housesitting job. She put it inside of her purse. It was important to relax before the flight. If she were to have another outburst, Danno would not let her anywhere near the plane.
He pulled over on the shoulder before the airport entrance. A car pulled up and dropped off a man with shiny shoes and teeth. He approached the driver’s side.
Danno stepped out and opened the trunk. The man stepped aside and twitched slightly. His head moved back and forth rhythm Ala only noticed because she was staring. She let herself out of the car and hurried over and he placed all of their luggage on the curb.
“What is going on?” She asked.
“Give me a minute,” Danno said in a voice that wanted to yell at her, but held back. He closed the trunk and tossed the keys to the man. Then, he opened the door to the other car and gestured for her to climb inside.
Rainbow was behind the wheel and nodded in the rearview mirror. Danno climbed in and tapped Rainbow on the shoulder. He started driving and turned on the radio.
“I sold the car,” Danno said.
“Airfare,” he said.
She had forgotten to take money into account. It was the reason she hadn’t gone to the temple sooner. Now she believed she hadn’t gone so that she could meet him. Still though, she knew he had a lot more money than what the car cost. The sinfully beautiful car that he could have had many of for all she knew. She didn’t know if the car meant anything to him, but it meant a lot to her.
He smiled and looked out the window. He was happy about the transaction. She nestled into the nook of his arm and took a deep breath. He wasn’t attached to things like she was. He was used to moving on.
Rainbow pulled into the drop off lane at departures.
“Bye,” she said. He nodded. Danno got out without saying anything. An attendant came over with a rolling cart and loaded their bags onto the deck. The wheels squeaked and made her very nervous, like everyone was going to notice them and know they were trying to get out of the country.
The airport was very crowded for it not being a holiday weekend. The line for security was wrapped around three cues. There were suitcases stacked on trunks and strollers used for random bags and children clung to their parents legs.
“You don’t look so good,” Danno said, his face nearly losing color. “Go sit down. I’ll get our tickets.”
Ala pulled out her compact mirror. Her face was deep red, almost resembling a rash. Her feet barely moved forward. She had to find a way to calm down. This trip was what she had wanted. This was the reason she took the job. She made her way over to a scratched plastic chair and sunk into it. She watched families and business men pass by, nearly colliding into each other from opposite directions. No one seemed to look where they were going. Her hands shook as she reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope.