Flash Fiction: At The Terminal
“Do you know why I pulled you over, son?”
Travis shook his head. “No, officer, I don’t. I was on cruise control at four miles over the speed limit to keep up with traffic.”
“Your registration’s past due. Sticker on your plate says so.”
Travis smacked his forehead. “Right. I was going to take care of it before I got the call.”
The officer nodded, told him to wait, and returned to his squad car. Travis kept glancing at the clock in his dashboard. Sandra’s flight would be leaving in just over three hours, if Meg’s information was right, and he still had two hours to drive. The policeman walked back.
“I’m not going to cite you for the registration, as it was just last month, but I will give you a warning. Get it taken care of as soon as possible.”
“I will, officer, I promise.”
Travis cranked the radio’s volume once he was back on the road. He changed CDs twice before hitting the city limits. His stomach rolled with just as much anticipation and dread as hunger, and he’d polished off the granola bars in his glove box not long before he’d been pulled over. He glanced at the clock again and tried to remember the best way to the airport.
Naturally, most of the main roads were congested to a degree. He avoided them for as long as he could, and when he did get onto the highway leading to the terminals he tried his best not to be a dick. However, with so many vehicles jockeying for position, he had to push his little car into whatever space he could find, even if it meant running afoul of someone.
He was, after all, on a mission.
Finally, he found the short-term parking lot. He paid his cash, found a spot, grabbed the box, and ran inside. A quick text to Meg asked about the flight, and she responded almost immediately. With a little direction, he figured out which way to go.
He ran until he had to wait for security, and then ran again to find the right flight lounge. She was sitting at the end of a row of seats, reading something on a tablet. He caught his breath, fixed the collar of his shirt, and walked up to her. She looked up as he approached, and disbelief filled her eyes. The tablet was set aside without her looking at it.
“Travis, what are you doing here?”
“Sandra, don’t worry. I know you’re leaving. I just wanted to make sure you had this with you.”
He offered her the small box. She took it, and after giving him an incredulous look, she opened it.
“Oh, my God. I thought I’d lost this!”
He smiled as she lifted her grandmother’s locket on its delicate golden chain out of the box. “I know. I found it when I was cleaning things out before my move.”
“You had to move?”
“Yeah. One person couldn’t afford the rent on that place. I got myself a loft near school.”
“Good, that’s good.” She put the locket back in the box. “How’s school going, by the way?”
“A little hellish, given that I’m also working full time, but you know how that is.”
Neither of them said anything for a moment.
“Who will you be staying with in Paris?”
“A friend. She’s very excited to meet me. I hope I don’t embarrass myself too much with bad French.”
“Your French has always been beautiful. Well, to me, at least. But my opinion’s biased.”
“Just a bit.”
Silence again. People shuffled around them.
“Travis. Why did you drive out here just to give me this?”
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“I wish… I want you to stay. I mean, I know it’s stupid, we broke up and everything, you made it clear you didn’t want to be an attorney’s wife and…”
She reached out, taking his hand in hers.
“I’m sorry this has been hard on you. I really am. And I think it’s really sweet that you did this. But I can’t stay. Studying with some of the best modern artists in the world is an opportunity I can’t pass up. I can’t let anything hold me back, either.”
The sting of her words was as fresh as it had ever been, but when Meg had called him, he’d resolved to know for sure, once and for all. He swallowed and nodded.
“Well, I hope the locket brings you good luck, then. Travel safely, okay? Maybe… maybe you could write me. When you want to.”
She smiled, a tentative expression of uncertainty. “Yeah. Maybe I will.”
They called for her flight and, with a wave, she left him standing in the lounge. He made his way back out, wandering a bit aimlessly, through a connecting concourse to an adjoining hotel. He walked into the bar and sat, ordering a martini.
“Make that two.”
He turned to see Meg sitting next to him. She was no match for Sandra’s elegance and poise, but she was quite attractive in her own right, removing her spectacles and giving Travis a bit of a smile.
“I take it she still got on the flight?”
“Yeah. She thanked me, though.”
“Damn straight she did. You’ve been a good friend to her both before and after you were dating.”
“Well, there was always the threat of you kicking my ass to keep me in line.”
She gave his arm a playful punch, then took hold of his shoulder. “Hey. You okay?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I… It was hard, seeing her again.”
“I bet. Sucks neither of us will be there for her.”
She smiled a bit more. “But hey… we got each other, right?”
He turned to her and found himself smiling, too. “Right.”
Their drinks arrived, and he touched his glass to hers. “To Sandra.”
Meg grinned. “And to her friends.” They drank, and promptly ordered another round.