Thursday, May 31, 2012
Short Fiction Story titled: Coming Home
By: Carrie Watson
Katie walked briskly through the crowded hallway. Her long chestnut hair swished across her back as her steps quickened. The airport was so chaotic because of the Christmas Holiday. She was trying to push her way through all of the people. A man walked passed her dressed like Santa Clause. There were Salvation Army volunteers outside of the little souvenir shops and newsstands ringing their bells. Airport taxis zipped by and people rolled their suitcases behind them as they ran in the rat race.
She looked down at her watch and saw that it was 9:27. She had sped down the highway heading towards the airport, but she had felt like she just couldn’t get there fast enough. She looked at her watch again. She only had a few minutes to get there. She stepped up her pace, but bumped into a man who was wearing a disheveled suit. He had obviously been on a business trip and was now trying to get home. She turned and apologized to him, but managed not to miss a step. She couldn’t be late.
She reassured herself by thinking that no planes come in early on Christmas Eve morning. It was the busiest travel day of the year, or at least she was sure she had read that somewhere.
She looked up at the signs. B4, B3, it was one more gate down. She was looking for gate B2. She arrived at the gate and hurried over to the window. She hadn’t seen Danny for six months. They missed their first anniversary together last month as a married couple.
She had planned to be at the airport early in case the flight came in ahead of its scheduled time, but now she had just barely made it. She must have changed her outfit at least seven times while she was getting ready this morning. Although what she was wearing was hardly going to matter.
People continued to push their way into the growing crowd in Gate B2 and in the whirling confusion her thoughts traveled to the night of their engagement party. It was at a country club, and Katie had tried on every dress she owned and couldn’t find anything that would be just right for the occasion. The doorbell rang during her eleventh wardrobe change.
“Babe, can you get the door?” She called. “Danny?”
She tried calling for him once more before throwing a robe on and going to the door. She opened the front door and standing there was Danny. He was dressed in a black suit, cleanly shaved, blonde hair gelled, and he looked so handsome. He was holding a box in his hands.
“What are you doing? What is this?”
“You have to open it to find out.”
She lifted the lid of the box and pulled back the tissue paper. Something sparkled underneath. She pulled it out and held it up. It was gorgeous. It was the most perfect cocktail dress. It was royal blue and black with just the right amount of rhinestones accenting the trim under the bust line.
In their first months together as man and wife, they were so blissfully happy. If someone had sarcastically used the phrase, “The honeymoon is over,” they would have been talking about some other couple, not them. With them, the honeymoon never ended. When they were together it was as exciting as their first date had been; as passionate as their fifth; and as comfortable as their hundredth, all at the same time.
The mumblings of the crowd around her suddenly grew louder and Katie was pulled back into reality, right back into the middle of the airport confusion. A plane turned on the runway and started moving slowly toward the gate. Her heart pounded and weighed in her chest like a boulder dangling by a thread.
It would only be another minute before people started to come off of the plane. Two minutes. Three minutes. Katie checked her watch. Five minutes. She checked the clock on the wall. Eight minutes. Finally, people started to come off of the plane. Men and women, tanned from the dessert sun, dressed in sand colored fatigues, walked out of the door into the gate. As each person walked off the plane there were elated screams, cheers, and tears. Chaos exploded in the gate and for a moment, Katie could only see the top of the jet way door.
She stared ahead as she began to push her way through all of the people. The crowd parted and closed several times. The masses of people moving in small crowds of families gave her short glimpses of a man, tanned from the desert sun and dressed in fatigues looking tired and worn. His head was almost shaved bald, but he looked so good. He took the bag he was holding by his side and threw it over his shoulder. He looked frantically around at all of the people.
He saw her. They stared at each other for a moment. They started to move forward, but were blocked by one body after another. Katie couldn’t push her way through and could no longer see over everyone. She stood on the tips of her toes and looked to where Danny was standing, but he wasn’t there. Had she imagined him? Where was he? She tried to push through, but the crowd was too thick.
She felt something tug at her arm from behind. Danny. She jumped into his arms making him drop his bag as he caught her. She hugged him so tight. He had been overseas for six months. Katie thanked God every night for one hundred and seventy-seven nights that this would be his last tour.
For a long time, she thought that they would have to spend their first Christmas as a married couple thousands of miles away from each other. She tried not to let herself think of the other possibility. Over and over she pushed away the thought of them never spending anymore Christmases together. But no matter how hard she tried, that thought clawed its way back into her mind.
Her nightmares could stop now. He was home. He was safe. She had prayed for this moment every day since the day she had been at this exact same airport dropping him off. Since that day, she couldn’t shake the fear of the possibility of never seeing him again. There were nights when she would have horrible nightmares of the terrible things that could happen to him. She woke up in the middle of the night in cold sweats or tears.
She just wanted him home. She wanted him by her side again or lying next to her in bed at night. This was all she had wanted for Christmas. This was her perfect gift. Tears welled up in her eyes and began streaming down her face. He put her down and held her by the shoulders so he could look at her. He looked like he could hardly believe she was real.
“I missed this beautiful face.” He said as he wiped a tear from under her eye.
“I missed you so much. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Then he held her face in his hands and kissed her. Everything disappeared for those few precious moments. Her mind went clear and all she focused on was him. She wasn’t worried anymore about the huge dinner she had to prepare for her family and in-laws that night. All of the sounds of the busy, bustling airport quieted. There were no bells, or loud speaker announcements. All of the people were gone and the faint sounds of jet engines outside silenced. The world stood still.
He was home. He was safe. She kept telling herself over and over again because she could hardly believe it herself that he was now standing right in front of her. Even when all of the chaos around her would come back into her conscious mind, she would be untouchable to everything because she had the only one she would ever love this much in her arms again. She was again complete.