Friday, June 1, 2012

Short Fiction Story - Alternate Ending

As I said, I'm posting the same story I did yesterday, but with a different ending. Please tell me which one you like better (although I understand if you don't feel like reading the same story twice).

Coming Home
                 Katie walked 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 walked briskly 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 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 one year anniversary 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 while getting ready at home, 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.
            Finally, people started to de-board. Men and women, tanned from the dessert sun, dressed in sand colored fatigues, walked out of the door into the gate. Katie spotted Danny’s friend Kyle. He looked handsome with his shaved head and bronzed skin, but also tired and worn. He and Danny had been friends since their first day of training.
            He walked over and hugged her. She was happy to see him, but still looked past him to watch as soldiers filed into the gate and their families ran to embrace them. There were cheers and tears of joy spreading from one group to the next.
            “I’m glad you’re home safe, Kyle.”
            “Thanks, Kate. Are you ok?”
            Katie didn’t answer. Her eyes welled up and Kyle hugged her again. Then he pulled away slightly and stood to her side, keeping one arm around her shoulders. She was waiting for Danny, not for him. He sensed that she was still somehow expecting to see Danny come through the doorway; knowing intuitively that during the scene at the gate she had stepped outside of herself. They turned together, walked to the window, and looked under the plane.
“Here he comes now. Maybe it would be best if you didn’t watch.”  
“No, I have to. I have to see him come home.”
Eight marines filed in two lines under the plane, standing across from each other at the ready, and saluted. Katie and Kyle watched together as the polished cherry oak came down the conveyor belt and moved between the soldiers. Then they blanketed the oak in red, white, and blue.

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