Today, I’m changing gears just a bit and offering up a bit of fiction “Chance Meeting.” Besides, poetry and blogging, I’m currently working on a collection of short stories about living in the South.
“Ma’am, I’m going to need to see what’s in that vase,” said airport security. He passed her precious urn to a fellow worker. Her long manicured nails didn’t quite get a good hold, and the faux Ming Dynasty urn slipped from the grasp of the TSA worker. Crash, thud, shatter. Hilda saw everything blur except the urn, and she shoved her way through the metal detector slipping on polished floor to get to her only carry on luggage. “Oh, shit,” she muttered softly. “Oh, shit, oh, shit.” The TSA worker chomped on her bubble gum loudly and stared at Hilda bending over the ashes, the shards of her dear Robert’s urn.
Somehow, time slowed down as her fellow travelers maneuvered around her. Hilda remembered the day she and Robert picked out their matching urns. The flea market aisles were hardly large enough for Robert’s electric wheelchair around, but it made him so happy to be with other people. He never noticed their cruel stares, whispered comments like Hilda did. She heard every word. But Robert insisted that they pick out how his ashes would be displayed, and Hilda never could refuse Robert anything. The white urns with bright blue peacocks mimicked some ancient Chinese pottery, but they would look nice on the mantle. Until that damn TSA worked dropped Robert’s urn and let his ashes mingled with the sweaty feet, dirty shoes, and dust at O’Hare.
Perhaps, bringing Robert along was silly. She didn’t need anyone flying with her before. When she could find work, she jetted from LAX to JFK to RDU. She sweated her ass off in Bombay, nearly froze in Moscow. She never needed Robert by her side because he was waiting at home. Before the accident. When she wasn’t wiping his ass or giving him medicine, she tried to find work on smaller commuter airlines. She never did. They didn’t appreciate her running off to tend to Robert because hospice failed to show up, or he woke up with night terrors again. Always reliving the crash, the river, the near drowning.
But he was gone. With no one waiting for her at home, she took her sole companion with her. He often bemoaned that Hilda got to see the world, and he was stuck in that goddamn wheelchair. She swore this trip to Brazil would make up for his lack of exotic travel. Of course, she wished she could just have her teeth bonded in the States, but her dental insurance wouldn’t cover such a procedure. Too risky.
Sitting on the ground, she looked up to see two young flight attendants saunter past security and into the staff only room. Their uniforms wrinkled from sitting down, and Hilda rolled her eyes at their lack of professionalism. There was only one way to keep those uniforms perfectly pressed till boarding, and she knew it. But her airline didn’t care for her outdated ways.
“Ma’am, you going to clean this up?” asked the impatient security worker. “ Or do I need to call security?”
To be continued….