Monday, April 23, 2012


The airport bustled around her as she waited.  From the uncomfortable vinyl seat at the terminal, she could see them all.
 There was the sleeping college student who sat approximately a meter to her left.  His hat had been pulled carelessly over his eyes so that his blond hair peeked out at the back and sides, and his hands lay clasped together in his lap.

There were businessmen and women who bustled about, hurriedly rushing to Starbucks for their hourly caffeine fix.  They all dressed similarly, and strode past with the same anxiousness. She could feel herself feeding off their restless behavior.

To her far right was a couple not quite newlyweds.  In contrast, the man had already grayed, not only in his beard but also in the sparse hairs that covered his shining scalp, which was crimson with sunburn.  Only a snug belt pulled two notches too tight contained his enormous bulging stomach.  His wife dressed similarly, though her face and arms had browned, not burned, from the sun.  She wore green Bermuda shorts and a pink t-shirt, stretched tight over her torso.  The two seemed happy, Ainslie thought quietly.

Every so often, a flight attendant or pilot would wander by, dressed impeccably.  Each wore identical leather shoes that gleamed in the dull fluorescent light, and suits designed for their gender.  The pilots wore ties and decorated caps, and when they stood within Ainslie’s field of view, she couldn’t help but feel as though they were important, watchful, protective.

Families passed by, children adorned in Disney memorabilia. There were people dressed in military uniform.  Young girls on their way home from Cancun.  A petite woman with wire-rimmed glasses, clutching a James Patterson novel. 

Ainslie didn’t fly much, but it didn’t stop her from enjoying the airport.  She still marveled at how many people passed through the gates each day.  Thousands of people with thousands of different lives were all around her all at once, and it sent her spiraling into a wild consciousness that she quickly became addicted to.

She pulled her mousy brown hair into a low ponytail and leaned back into her seat to close her eyes.  It never even occurred to her that something in the air was different.  So she never realized that her life was about to change.

It was quiet before the plane hit, but deafening after.  Men and women screamed, children sobbed – people ran on desperate legs, tears streaming down ash-ridden faces.  Flames danced across gift shops and kiosks, reflecting angry light from the tiny glass shards the shattered window had once been composed of. 

Ainslee rolled onto her side, pushing herself upright and examining the nose of the giant 747 blazing above her. 

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