Hey everyone, This is the last installment of my latest short story. This last bit is big, but I couldn’t find a way to break it up into smaller posts without severely killing the flow of this last portion. I hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t read the other two posts, PLEASE READ THEM FIRST! The first one is here, and the second is here. And don’t forget to check out the guest artist who designed the image for this story. He is Yisrael Grimes. You can find his Facebook page here.
Finally, here you go:
The montgomery airport was much less busy than Thomas had ever seen. Almost no one was there, other than a few staff members at the counter. Thomas secured his ticket, checked in his belongings, verified his flight–which was slightly delayed–and found a seat in the lobby. As he laid his head back and twiddled his thumbs he came to a startling realization. He was in the one situation he dreaded most in the world.
He was a alone.
Not alone and busy, or even the worse-but-still-okay alone with a to-do list to keep your brain distracted. No, he had accidentally stumbled into that kind of alone in which there was honestly nothing to do but sit there. Just him, his mind, and his memories.
He tried to distract himself with his phone. No success. The cellular signal was down, and the airport wifi wasn’t working. The strangest thing–and this should have been his first clue that he was in the strangest place on earth– was that none of his apps would open. Not one.
He should have been worried about that. But he couldn’t, because it had already started: Memories were beginning to flood his mind’s eyes. Yes, he was always consumed with thoughts of his family, but this was different. The thoughts weren’t just distantly hanging in rafters of his thoughts feeding him resentment, and sorrow, and helplessness. No, they were vibrantly and accurately marching their way right through him, loud and clear and unhindered by his efforts to thinking of something else. Anything else.
The first memory was the most recent one. He was, again, teaching Allison to drive. It hurt to see it again, but it was also wonderful. This was the most vivid memories he had ever experienced. In fact, it was getting a little too vivid.The moving, and turning, and accelerating, all the way to the sudden stop of the bumper against the mailbox made Thomas sick to his stomach.
He suddenly came out of it and stood up, clinching his stomach. It was the worst vertigo he had ever felt. He stumbled over to the window hoping to see some ground to help him find his center and keep steady, but it didn’t help. Not because his the feeling in his stomach was too strong. No it was the ground.
It wasn’t there.
It was like he was flying, but instead of riding a plane–like he had planned–he was still in the airport. It was like any distraction he looked for was being removed before he could hide in it. Turning from the window, he collapsed to the ground as the memories kept flooding his mind. The next was of him and Kara.
She was right there in the hospital bed, getting ready to give birth to their baby girl. Again, every sensation flooded his sense as though it were happening. Along with it, every feeling he had at that moment years ago was coming back. The pride, the hope, the almost unbearable sense of love. He remembered how he sat there thinking of how he just could not wait to see his new precious little one grow up. Then the agony set in. And he came to the realization that death had taken her much too soon. It was as though he realized this for the first time. How could he not have let that reality sink in before. He would never see his little Allison graduate from college or high school. He would never wish her safely off to prom. He would never get the chance to teach her to drive for the first time. He would never pick her up from kindergarten and see her run to him with her little arms wide open ready for him scoop her up and give her a huge, daddy-sized hug. He wished with all his heart that he hadn’t let her go with Kara on the business trip. But it was the only option they had since he had to work too, and Kara’s conference was going to provide childcare. If she had stayed, he would still–at the very very least–have his little 1 year old daughter.
Between memories, he tried to stand up, but each time the nausea and dizziness pushed him back down as he found himself lost in the memories. Now, he was recalling the day they moved into their first house. Finally, they were getting a place to call their own, instead renting yet another tiny apartment. As he carried boxes inside, Kara unpacked them. With every pass of a box there would be a kiss and a smile. The atmosphere in their new home was already getting just soaked in love. It was a fixer-upper, but they were going to love it!
They had loved their little apartment too, but they felt the time was right to settle somewhere and put down roots. They had so many plans for how to use each inch of this house. The back patio would be the ultimate party space. The den was going to be decked out for movie nights. And best of all, the room that would start as his office, hopefully, was going to eventually become something else.
That was one of the best reasons for finally putting down roots. They loved each other, and loved spending time alone together, but they were ready to share that love with a new third member of their home. They had been talking about baby names for years. If they ever had a boy, it would be Andrew or Kenneth. If they had a girl: Patience, Kassidy, or Allison.
His heart broke open with so much anger that his stood up, in spite of his pain, and curse the clouds outside the lobby window. “How dare you take her away!?” He cried, “What gave you the right!? She was everything, EVERYTHING!” He fell back into his seat. He got a little more sick at the thought of living in that home without her. They had barely gotten settled in. some of their stuff was still in boxes in his office.
Which never became a nursery.
Thomas was starting to get accustomed to the vertigo, as it seemed that the memories were slowing down in their frequency. Back and back, they pushed through his mind until he was remembering one of their last dates. It was about a week before would gather enough enough courage to ask her to marry him. She was still in college, and he was visiting her on her break. They walked through the garden outside the Agriculture Center, where many of the students maintained gardens for their class. And it was beautiful!
Everything was in bloom, and a couple of bees were out, lazily bumping from flower to flower, sipping nectar. It was one of the happiest memories had. He thought about it often, considering it was the last time he ever saw Kara. He couldn’t recall any other really happy moments in his life after that. He had hoped that he could have popped the question then, and told her how he really felt about her. But he never got the chance. Now, she was dead. He wondered how life would have been as a married man. Especially, married to her. He thought about how great it could have been, sharing a life like that. He also began to wonder if he would ever get the chance again. He hadn’t dated anyone since. Was this–flying to work conferences and meetings–all he would ever get out of his life?
Just then, he snapped awake. How long had he been sitting there? And why was he just dreaming about that girl he met in college. What was her name? Karen? Lara? She had been in one of his classes the first week of school, but he never saw her come back after that. What a strange, random thing to recall. He looked back and noticed that the room had become quite full. It looked like it was going to be a typically full flight after all. Just then, a voice came over the intercom. “Flight 112 to Asheville now boarding.” Several people, including Thomas, got up and heading to the terminal. As they got up, Thomas noticed that the place was even more busy than he thought. He pushed his forward through families, squeezed his way past strangers, and bumped into as few people as he could along the way until he was almost to the loading bay. Then “Bam!”
Thomas turned around indignantly to see who had just bumped into him so hard. What jerk would walk right into a person like that? Thomas guessed it was that the Man in the Silver Suit, who was walking in the opposite direction that smacked into him. As people flowed past him, Thomas decided that there wasn’t any time for a confrontation, so he just kept moving with the crowd until he was on board and finally to his seat.
Just before he sat down, he did his quick customary pocket check.
Thomas moved quickly from pocket to pocket to no avail in finding his spending money for the trip. Thomas then realized that the guy who bumped into him in the terminal must have stolen it. Thomas fell in his seat with exasperation as he tried to recall exactly how much cash was taken. He had left home with 200 buck, but stopped for coffee, so Thomas estimated that…
he was now one-hundred ninety five dollars and eighty-seven cents poorer.
Thanks for reading! Some time next week I will have a polished version of the story in a PDF ebook that you can download (for free, of course) and pass along to friends, or just read for a second time. Peace.