A Conversation in the Airport Lounge

Written for Finish That Thought! 2-29. The prompt was the first line of the story (slightly tweaked).

He hurriedly opened the window to drink in what she knew to be his very last sunrise. She was beautiful, in a movie star librarian sort of way: a brunette with a ready smile and green eyes that lit up behind her glasses as his video chat window opened. She laughed to see him, and empty cocktail glasses lined up in front of him. I busied myself stacking chairs onto the tables, pretending not to eavesdrop.

“Isn’t it a tad early to be drinking?” her voice echoed through the empty room.

“Early here, but isn’t it five o’clock there?” He sipped his orange tropical concoction through a bright red bendy straw. Then he ran his hand through his disheveled hair, grimacing as he brushed a patch of shaved skin on the back of his neck. Those scars must have still been raw. “Besides, I’ll be crammed inside an AirBus for the next fourteen hours.”

“Enjoy it while you can, mister,” she chided. “There’ll be none of that stuff when you get home! And no more climbing volcanoes!”

“No danger of that, love.” A floorboard squeaked beneath his wheelchair as he rolled away from the table, showing her the casts on both his legs. “Very few volcanoes have wheelchair ramps. Besides,” he wheeled forward and leaned close to the webcam, scraggly beard brushing his laptop screen, “I get drunk enough off of you and your designated-driver love.”

Across an ocean of internet, she rolled her eyes. “Sappy. Are you sure the painkillers have worn off?”

“I’m clean and sober! Except for the alcohol, of course!” He raised his glass to his laptop in a toast. “To being out of that hospital at long last!”

“Cheers!” She pantomimed a glass clinking. “Anyway, gotta run. After-hours faculty meeting on campus. I’ll meet you at the airport tomorrow.”

“Give the Dean my regards. Tell him I have lots of receipts to reimburse. Miss you!”

After a couple overdramatic blown kisses, the video chat ended. He shut his laptop and returned it to his rollaboard luggage.

I approached to collect his empty glasses. “Would you like another Tequila Sunrise, sir?”

“Hindi po.” He shook his head and dug around in his pocket. “I have to catch a plane back to my humdrum life. Could you wheel my luggage to the door?”

“I can wheel it all the way to your gate, sir.” I extended the handle of his carry-on luggage. “Most people are not so happy to leave here as you are.”

As he dropped a fistful of coins onto the table, he smiled. “Most people who get on a plane here are leaving paradise.”


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