The couple Jen saw embracing finally released enough to face each other. The pain on her face was mirrored by the pain on his. He remembered back, to the last time they had made their departure standing here, at the airport, in front of the bookstore.
She had said, “Write. Write your story,” as though he needed to go out and slay his dragon before he could ever claim her as his princess.
He hugged her one last time. In the letting go, he whispered in her ear, “Goodbye, Sweetheart.” With hands gently on her shoulders he looked her deep in the eyes. There was a sad smile on his face. A surrender to the pain he felt.
He turned her around, she thought so they could see each other in the reflection of the bookstore’s glass. She could see him looking at her, that same sad smile on his face, she smiled back. He was looking at her, she noticed, but more than that, he was looking through her, or rather through the glass. As her gaze went with his she saw all the display shelves filled with the same book. She realized it must be the hot new release being promoted when the title of the book penetrated her heart.
“The Pilates Lounge” by Cornu.
The woman’s jaw dropped. She stopped breathing. She stopped seeing even though her eyes were still open. When she refocused, the books were still there but he was gone. Gone.
She cried now. Her knees gave way with her knowing and her crying was unabated. Other travelers came to console her, help her to her feet. She regained her composure, looked up into the peaks of the big top tent she stood under and couldn’t help feeling like a trapeze flyer who had just lost her grip. “Send in the clowns,” she whispered to herself.
She felt like she was in a movie she had seen when the clerk selling her the book asked if she wanted it wrapped. Following along with the line in the movie but her voice straining not to crack, “No, it’s for me.”
As she went to drop the change the clerk gave her into her coat pocket her hand came out with something unexpected. It was an airline ticket.