Tim, a blogger that I follow, and an incredible writer, has been hosting a mid-month story challenge for several months now. Although I was super-excited right from the beginning, this is the first one I’ve been able to finish. The challenge is posted (as the title suggests) in the middle of each month. It is due on the first of each month. If you’re interested in participating, head on over to his blog, That Tiny Website, for more information.
“Whoever said vacation is relaxing obviously never started their vacation in an airport,” I muttered, hurrying through the terminal in search of my gate. Perhaps, if one was driving or having minimal travel it would be possible, but no, not in an airport.
My mind raced as I ran, frustrated over the length of time it took to get through security and border patrol. The bustle of people everywhere makes it impossible to relax, even if you are completely prepared with your luggage and arrive hours before your necessary check-in time.
Of all the silly places to make you go through the border, in the middle of the airport is the worst. Security was a nightmare — parents struggling with screaming children while knocking strangers in their Achilles with strollers, then huffing an apology as they tied their toddlers back down. Impatient business professionals tapping their feet in annoyance and making demands of staff as to why they were more important to get through than those ‘other’ people waiting in line. They would huff and raise their voices, wagging their hands at the rest of the line as if it was the would-be passengers’ faults security was so slow.
I knew I was giving people the stink-eye, but at 75-years-old, I feel like I’ve earned that right.
Especially when people seemed incapable of holstering their own impatience. All of this mess, just to spend some time in Florida during yet another ugly Ontario winter.
I had arrived two hours earlier than my required check-in time, and after spending four of those hours standing in line after line of these grouchy, entitled, unobservant people, I just wanted to sit down. My ankles were swollen, causing pain to shoot up my pale legs, and my handbag was beginning to feel like I had stacked several bricks inside.
My stomach was churning due to the nauseating smells all around me. Standing directly in front of me was a younger man with a long beard, who smelled like soured berries. It made me feel lightheaded and dizzy, making me even less tolerant of the crowds and the people they consisted of.
At least there was some sort of entertainment throughout. Several rows ahead of me was an orthodox Jewish rabbi, a jolly man with rosy cheeks, a dark black beard, and a white, toothy smile.
Every now and again, he’d flash a grouchy child a grin, and do a little jig while singing to them.
It wasn’t possible to make out the words, but whatever he was saying was enough to make most of the children perk up and giggle. When he finished, he would bow with one arm and wink at the parents, who would often mouth out “thank-you” before busying themselves once again with their families.
When I finally made it to the border guard, the man at the station beside me was shifting nervously, and I overheard them say “we don’t have enough data on this,” before several extra guards approached. I huffed and turned to look at my own guard, who was watching the situation unfold with uncertainty. After a few moments, seemingly confident everything was under control, he looked at me.
“Passport and boarding pass please.”
I acquiesced, wondering if the guards were normally this terse, without any sign of pleasantness in their temperament.
He asked me to remove my three hats, raising an eyebrow at my earlier balancing act. Of course, it looked weird, but these were my beach hats — packing them in a bag would have ruined them, and I had one for each kind of weather. I was more concerned about enjoying myself than the weird looks my odd wardrobe would garner.
Without another word, he looked at me, looked over my passport, stamped it, and sent me on my way. I shrugged and continued, dragging my small rolling bag behind me.
I finish musing over the several hour long experience, preparing to walk through the metal detector.
One glance at the time as I make it through the final steps of security, and I let out a loud groan, eliciting some dirty looks from people milling about. Arriving at the airport early did nothing. No longer in the best shape of my life, I begin to hurry through the terminal, not even pausing to look at the aquarium art installation, with it’s floating cubes. I never understood what was so special about it anyway.
Running as fast as my old lady legs will carry me, I glance down at my ticket, double-checking the gate. Just as I look up, I see another body barrelling straight at me. I barely have time to notice the enormity of the person in comparison to me before we crash into each other at the edge of the railing leading onto the lower level. The lightness of my body in comparison to the sheer force of the man colliding with me leaves me at a disadvantage. The force is so strong I feel my body push up against the railing, and, not even a moment later, I find myself dangling precariously over the ledge, my bag being the only thing holding me there.
The large man stares at me in horror, stammering an apology as each of my three hats falls off my head, drifting towards the ground.
As people begin to shout for help, it’s not fear I feel at falling to my death. No. It’s more like morbid amusement. Is this how my long life will end? With me being the strange woman who plummets to her death from a random collision in the airport? I close my eyes, and accept the inevitability as my bag begins to rip.
To see the criteria for this month’s story challenge, go here.