She turned and saw him. The anger erupted to the surface carried by hummingbird wings and it took every lesson from anger management to keep herself from sprinting over and pummeling him.
“Gate 43 for flight 275 to Baltimore now boarding. Business class ticket holders and passengers with small children may now board,” the gate attendant announced over the speaker.
Posted as part of a weekly exercise I've entitled, The Idea, to write a series of short stories that can act as standalone material, but are ultimately connected.
He stood in line at the Starbucks down the concourse and laughed with an attractive red haired woman. His jovial appearance sent her rage into overdrive. She considered running up to him and kicking him in the balls, smashing his nose in or grabbing a pot of coffee and throwing it into his face. Maybe she should just tell his new girlfriend who he really is, who the man behind that smug smile is when the lights go out.
Tears welled in the corner of her eyes, but evaporated into steam in seconds. The ticket in her hand began to tremble.
“Sweetheart. Are you okay?” Jacob asked.
“No.” She responded.
“What’s wrong?” he said.
“It’s him.” She replied.
Jacob turned his head and his eyes locked on to the man who had Jon Hamm-like looks and his fists clenched. Red flashed in splotches on the peripheral of his vision and he took a hurried step forward. Sara grabbed his arm.
“Don’t.” She said.
“What?” he replied.
“Just don’t.” She repeated. “I want you to go over there. I really do. I want to go over there myself, but it’s not going to change anything.”
“It’s going to make me feel good to punch that motherfucker in his throat.” Jacob said while taking a step back into line.
“Then what?” she asked.
“You’re right.” He sighed. “I just can’t stand the thought of him moving around this world with that fucking smile on his face and acting like nothing ever happened.”
“I don’t either. For the longest time I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to watch his body burn over hot coals while vultures picked at his liver. But then I met you and you have given me peace. I don’t want to think about that time any more.”
Sara’s grip on Jacob’s arm loosened. Jacob’s stance relaxed.
“We are now boarding Group 2. If you have Group 2 on your ticket you may now board Flight 275 to Baltimore,” the flight attendant announced.
Despite Sara’s speech, the anger continued to bubble at the edge of her sanity. What she didn’t tell Jacob was how afraid she was. Everything she said, how he gave her peace and how she didn’t want to think about it anymore was true, the fear was more true and she could not bear to speak about it.
She turned from the man in line and looked at her ticket. Printed in large black type was Group 3.
“We’re on the next group and then this is over,” she muttered to herself.
Jacob’s hands rested on her shoulders. She felt his warmth against her as he moved his hands around her and squeezed. For a brief moment she felt relaxed. Whole. Herself again.
“You know, we could use someone like you in our marketing department,” the voice boomed.
Sara jerked. Her head snapped and butted into Jacob’s chin. He let out an audible ‘ooof’ and took a step back, placing his hand against his mouth.
She felt like a small child standing in the darkened bathroom facing away from the mirror and chanting Bloody Mary. If she turned around she would be terrified at what she saw. She froze like future roadkill. She stuffed her hands into her pockets.
“You’re just saying that because you think I’m pretty,” a woman’s voice said.
“That is quite possible, but I’m also saying it because it’s true.” The voice replied.
“Now if you’ll just let me take you to dinner we can start to discuss how the acquisition could take place,” the man continued.
Jacob’s hands returned to her torso. She felt his warm breath near her ear.
“It’s going to be okay,” he said. “I’m here with whatever you need.”
She reached and touched his hand. The connection helped her relax a little, but the feeling of a bowling ball lodged in her abdomen would not go away as the voice got closer.
She thought back through the first three years after it happened. The ruptured nights’ sleep. The fear. The self loathing. The thoughts of how she would never trust anyone again. Then she thought of the morning she woke up after the first full eight hours rest she had in years and saw the sun break through her curtains. She thought of walking past strangers and not feeling the distance between her and them anymore. She thought of the day she met Jacob. She remembered how she took control of her life. How the life she now lived was something of her own creation and she did it on her own.
She took a deep breath and turned.
His looks were still his best feature. He had short dark hair and a jawline that could cut diamonds. His eyes still had specks of green in them and he had the smile of a devil trying to sell you something you didn’t need. The anger evaporated. The fear crawled away.
Jacob’s hands took hers and he squeezed tight. She gave him a small press back.
She had not seen him in 10 years, but she felt like she had been haunted by him for most of her life. His specter had been one of the things that seemed to float over her life for so long that she had forgotten about it - took it for granted.
Now there was nothing. No sudden pangs of guilt. No tension. No anger.
The man was in the middle of a laugh when he saw her. His smile faded and his jaw gaped. His hands relaxed on his briefcase and it clattered to the thin carpet floor. The red head who had been talking with him knelt down and picked it up.
“Did you have too much coffee? Getting a little jittery, are we?” she asked.
Her voice broke the tractor beam and he groped the air to grasp the briefcase she was trying to hand him.
A smile spread across Sara’s face. It wasn’t a punch in the throat, but it felt just as good. To see him stunned and taken off guard proved to be the final piece of the puzzle.
“Group 3 is now boarding. If you have Group 3 on your ticket you may now board Flight 275 to Baltimore,” the flight attendant announced.
Sara knelt to grab her suitcase. When she looked he was still looking in her direction with the small smile still intact. She raised her hand, almost like a wave. It felt childish and the people behind her reacted with repulsion, but the the act of flipping him off made her roar with laughter.
“Come on sweetie. Let’s get on this flight and on to our new home,” Sara said while handing her ticket to the attendant.
“Have a nice flight.” She said while scanning the ticket.
“Thank you,” Sara said, still beaming. “We will.”