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05 July 2008

Scene from an airport


While we were waiting in Toronto for our connect flight to Tel Aviv, I saw a young woman circling a payphone.

You can try to imagine her. She was probably in her early twenties or maybe a bit younger. She was carrying a large backpack. She had curly hair, if that helps.

That backpack looked heavy, but she didn't put it down on the floor. Instead, she just carried it on her back and continued wondering around the phone, as if afraid to make a decisive move. Every once in a while, she stopped, took out a piece of paper from her pocket, then put it back in and continued circling the phone.

And in between doing whatever, I kept glancing at her, waiting for her to make her move, knowing that if it were up to me, if she were a character in a book I was writing, she would have used the phone by now, because a reader doesn't have time to imagine a woman going around in circles. We have plot twists to consider.

But of course, when she actually stopped and used the phone, what she said was better than anything I could have imagined, and more simple and beautiful than anything I could ever make any character say.

She put her backpack down on the floor, pulled out the paper again, and dialed the number.

With a shaking voice, almost a whisper, she said, "Is it too soon to call?"

21 comments:

Xbox4NappyRash said...

the beginning of a hundred other stories wight there.

Dan said...

We once saw an asian woman in floods of tears in the airport, a two year old clinging to her neck. It has stuck in my mind for years.

My wife went over and gave her a pack of tissues. That's why I love my wife

Jeff said...

That's a great scene. I wonder how long it had been?

Woozie said...

awwwwwwwwwwwww <3~~~~~

Angie said...

THAT is awesome.

Chris in Happy Valley said...

Perfect, just perfect. Every time I travel, I think that airports are a great source for fictional fodder - if one were so inclined.

cooper said...

Perfect line for the scene. Airports are great places to use that imagination. Wish I was at one.

Enjoy

SJ said...

It never is too soon and always too late.

Hmmm... dialog mightn't be my strong point.

SJ said...

And if it had been her boyfriend on the other end the smart thing to say would be "For you baby, it's always the right time to call me ."

Aimeepalooza said...

Fantastic! I'm thinking of a lover she's made angry...and she's leaving, going home, giving him his space...and just had to call.

B said...

I love people watching and the airport is a great place to do it!

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

You probably just hallucinated that part, being so exhausted from your 12 hour flight to Toronto & all...KIDDING!

Very mysterious! I'm thinking something to do with a time change maybe...or maybe someone had previously told her to call back in ten minutes when they finished (eating, showering, whatever) & didn't know she was desperate to talk to him or her about whatever it was...like being stranded at the airport.

Rol said...

Great opening to a movie - or an episode of The Twilight Zone...

Ophelia Mourne said...

wow :o)

Pelkyi Dorje said...

It's obvious that she recently killed her lover's spouse and has been on the down low for awhile.

I went through this exact same scenario just a few years ago after taking care of that damned Lang Darma.

People in the Sun said...

Xbox, you see, maybe because I had two years of long-distance relationship, for me it was really only one story. But maybe we can all see something else there. Maybe she was leaving Canada to live somewhere else. Or maybe she was on vacation and met someone there, and spent a week with him, and going back home was hard. That sounds familiar.

Dan, on my way to work, I used to see this guy in a wheelchair in the middle of the road. It was too cold for him to even lift his head to ask for money. One day I drove there with Honey, and she just says, "Good, he's using the blanket I got him." It still shocks me that people find it so easy to be good.

Jeff, I thought it was the time it took to drive from his house to the airport.

Woozie, really? You're drawing a heart? Where are we as a nation if I made the Woozie draw a heart? Unless it's a penis in a butt.

Angie, thank you. It's always good to have the infrequent visitors comment on a post. That way I know I did something right.

Chris, thanks. I think I'm limited in writing fiction because I can't see myself writing a scene like that. I lack imagination to create the subtlety of real life. I worked in a hellish place called Heathrow for a few months, which made me hate airports. But they are great places for those who like to look at humanity for a while.

Cooper, airports are stressful, and the food is nasty, and people are either over-dressed or under-dressed, and you have to walk a lot with suitcases filled with stuff you could do without because the moving platforms are out of order. But there is some kind of magic in these places. It makes any short trip a rite of passage.

SJ, I assume he said something like that because they did continue to talk for a while. I don't know about the use of baby, though. You have to be a very specific type of person to use that word.

Aimee, I was thinking the same thing (although without the angry part). I imagined her telling him she'll call when she gets home, but then she had to call from the airport. There'll be enough time and space for him soon.

B, once you stop running around, it is. It's a thin line between watching travelers in a condescending way and watching them because we're all mirrors of each other, in a sense. Sometimes I'm being condescending, I'm afraid. Sad, isn't it?

Jill, it wasn't just the twelve hour flight, it was also just thinking about all those bad roads we were about to drive on in the North Pole. Really, why do I pay taxes if the government can't fix those Siberian potholes?

Rol, I can see it as something that turns out in a mysterious way. Or maybe in a House of Games kind of movie.

Ophelia, ▓:-) back at you.

Pelkyi, well, we meet again. Doesn't say anything about that in Wikipedia. Maybe you should add it? And look at that, I did a little search and come to find out you're making a lot of Chinese people very angry! (and you mentioned me on TPM. How cute is that?)

Xbox4NappyRash said...

the number being on a piece of paper is interesting

People in the Sun said...

Xbox, maybe that's why I had the theory of her meeting someone on vacation. Who knows? Maybe she'll keep that piece of paper forever, like I keep the flyer for the show Honey and I went to see the day we met. (Or did she keep it? Anyway... we have it).

Anonymous said...

Honey kept it. She loves PITS.

People in the Sun said...

I kinda thought so. Thanks for keeping it. I love you too.

Dusty said...

In this day, with terrorists mentioned in every other breath by the asshats in the White House, I am surprised no one called security to report a possible bomber.

I know it was in Canada..but still, that fearmongering is everywhere isn't it?

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