30 Day Challenge Day 23!

Day 23

One night your character decides to leave home and never come back (you

decide the reason). But at the airport, he or she encounters an old friend, and

they get in a conversation. Something about this conversation (you decide what

it is) makes leaving home suddenly seem much more difficult than your

character had expected…

Why is this one so hard???? I’ve thought about it since I posted yesterday’s and am still not sure.

Aaron hated the smell of jet fuel, but today it actually made him feel a little more relaxed. The plane he would be on had arrived at the gate. He had been here an hour already, but he felt the need to see the plane arrive for some reason. He was not given to superstition, but it felt important somehow.

He heard the clunk of the door being removed from the plane and saw the little carts whizzing around the tarmac collecting bags to be redistributed to other planes, other destinations. Some would stay here in Atlanta. He felt sorry for those people. He would not be one of them anymore, he was done and gone. At this time tomorrow, Atlanta would be a distant memory.

The gate agents were no longer scurrying around like mice, one young woman stood at the kiosk, her professional smile firmly in place, she was there to answer questions from the passengers as they deplaned. Questions like “What gate is my connecting flight?” You would have to look at the monitors scattered every 100 yards or so. “How long do I have before my connecting flight?” Same answer, check the monitors. “Which way to baggage claim?” Follow the signs and the huge crowd heading that way from the same flight you just got off of.

Aaron had no idea how they didn’t just go postal. Maybe because going gate agent would just never catch on like postal so what was the point? And that was the question of the day. What was the point? It was the question that brought him here in the first place.

Marge had been gone for four months now; he heard from her sister that she and the biker she ran off with were really happy living in a trailer out near Reno. How did these things even happen? Since when did 35 year old suburban housewives run off with hairy men on motor cycles and live in poverty in the middle of the desert? Everything had been downhill from there.

He was going to start again in New York. He would leave all this drama and disappointment here and get a fresh new start. It would be like rebirth without all the mess and steep learning curve. If Marge could just walk away, so could Aaron.

He heard the umpteenth announcement about not letting strangers put things in your bags and leaned his head back; the first few passengers from the previous flight had begun to trickle through the doorway. They looked haggard and stressed.

Welcome to Atlanta, he thought. It doesn’t get any better than this.

“Aaron?” He heard his name from the direction of the jet-way. It was not that uncommon a name, so he didn’t look up. “Aaron Ridgeway?” He heard a woman saying his name, his name; he raised his head and saw a petit blonde woman bouncing excitedly near the gate agent. She was literally jumping up and down and waving her arms, he could not help but smile.

“Gail?” He could hardly believe his luck. He hadn’t seen Gail since his wedding to Marge. She broke his heart in high school and was his wife’s maid of honor.

“Oh my god!’ She squealed in excitement. The girl had not changed a bit in the last decade; she was still as bubbly and energetic as a kitten. She broke free from the press of confused and weary tourists and rushed over to Aaron where he sat. Out of habit he stood and let the little bundle of energy rush into his arms, still dragging her wheeled suitcase behind her.

“What are you doing in Atlanta, Gail?” He finally asked, once she quit squeezing him so tightly that he thought his ribs would break. Last I heard you were living in Montreal.

“Oh, that,” she said, shrugging nonchalantly. “It was dull.”

“Dull? Montreal was dull, and you thought you would come home to Atlanta to remind yourself what real boredom is.” He tried to laugh as his own lame attempt at humor but it fell flat when he saw her eyes lose some of their sparkle.

“I’m coming home for good, Aaron.” Her voice had lost childlike giddy quality. “I’m going to be staying with Mama.”

“Well, that’s awfully nice of you. I know she must be getting on in years now.” He knew Gail’s father had passes away years ago. He didn’t want to admit it, but he had always kept up with what Gail was doing. Even after Marge left, and he no longer had an excuse to ask, he always did. Maybe that first love never lets go entirely.

“She’s still pretty spry,” Gail gave a half-hearted grin. “Will you come around when you get back?”

It was Aaron’s turn to lose some of his shine. “I am moving away, Gail. I don’t plan on coming back any time soon.”

“Oh.” Her shoulders actually slumped. “I see. I guess I should have figured, what with the divorce and all…” She let her voice trail off.

“When I get settled, why don’t you come up and see me in New York?” Aaron offered.

“That might be a while,” Gail looked away. “I won’t be doing much traveling for a while. I didn’t come back to take care of Mama.” She fidgeted with the handle of her suitcase, nervously pushing the button to release the handle and then clicking it back to the locked position.

“What’s wrong?” He felt a thin shred of fear. Surely they were too young for there to be anything wrong with her. He prayed silently to himself.

“Oh nothing,” she gave a slightly more genuine smile. “I’m just going to have a baby is all.”

The gate agent mumbled into the microphone at the kiosk and the pre boarding announcement for his flight started.

“I had kind of hoped to find you still here.” She clicked the handle one last time. “If you ever do come back, Aaron, you know where I live.”

He still had not gathered his wits enough to say anything as he watched her walk away. She quickly blended into the crowds moving up and down the concourse.

He looked at the boarding pass in his hand. His shiny new life seemed a little less shiny now.

~Heather

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