He shuffles his feet side to side and watches the hoards pass him by with their own agendas driving them forth like cattle crossing a stream. Each face that passes bears its own emotional story. He looks at all of them and none of them as his mind wonders, floating up and mingling through the hanging florescent fixtures. He fumbles in his pocket again for the cell phone that runs his life, shifting weight to extract it from his khakis. He drops his backpack to the ground beside his leg and brings the screen to life.
He lets out a breath. The time has changed. The moment grows nearer but not near enough.
Back into his pocket he shoves the phone with a huff. He’s not angry, he realizes that. He knows it’s just nerves. The moment approaches and he waits. The hustle and bustle of the flowing travelers picks up and dies off as if there were invisible traffic lights at the top of the escalators. He pulls the phone free for the hundredth time and checks it for messages.
He readjusts his luggage and gathers his belongings as he looks around for a place to sit. Movement and relocation takes his mind off of the coming events but only for a brief second. Down against the wall, he feels the breaks in the tile against his spine. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. His hand, holding the green plastic bottle he’d picked up on his layover starts to twitch. The taste of cotton balls and cobwebs gets washed away before he screws the lid back on and straightens his legs. A new herd of travelers hurries down the escalator each pushing through the next with someplace they’d rather be.
He recalls the break in monotony when he moved to the wall and decides to change the lull once again, this time venturing back to where he began so he can have an unobstructed view of her arrival. A new rush of people halts his migration so he scopes his present locale and takes up shop. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
“What time is it now?” he asks himself aloud as he goes fishing for electronics once again. Before he can awaken the screen he catches a glimpse of her hair as she walks by. His heart starts to pound so loud she must be able to hear it. He takes a step then remembers his luggage in a moment of clarity brought on by the fear of being without clean clothes for the next few days. He turns on his heel and collects the Samsonite montage as the sweat beads on his forehead. His hands start to shake under the weight of the carry-on or so he rationalizes against the butterflies building in his gut. The only thing audible is the rush of blood through his ears as the sea of blank faces rages and crashes all around him. The whole of the world slows, but he, unobstructed, presses forward toward her flowered dress.
Three steps separate them as she turns to read the sign behind him. Their eyes meet. He quickly looks past her at the sign overhead showing departure and arrival updates. The three steps become tow, then one then quickly three again as they pass each other. He exhales and steadies himself, taking a glance over his shoulder at the girl he nearly grabbed. She was not his.
The embarrassment avoided calms his nerves. He gathers his worldly possessions again with ease and starts on the familiar path back to his perch at the end of the escalators. One more check on his iPhone followed by another five clicks of the analog clock hanging overhead and his pocket starts to vibrate. He pulls out the cell and fumbles with the touch screen.
“I’m here,” it reads.
As he shoves the phone back into his pocket with his right hand he looks up to scan the approaching crowd with renewed purpose.
Through the mass of weary travelers she shines, desaturating the rest as if she were stuck in film noir. Her smile radiates below her massive sunglasses. The flash of teeth in her bright smile seems to scream out against the soft pattern on her summer dress. Time slows as he takes in her brilliance flowing down the stairs inch by inch. He wants to remember this moment so he can relive it when he closes his eyes and beckons the dreams to bring them together again. He sits the luggage down and plants his feet, willing them to hold so that she can come to him, out away from the crowd.
She reaches the floor and pauses, looking left then right. His smile draws her attention to his gaze only to be dwarfed by hers in comparison. She changes directions and walks quickly toward his trembling figure. He watches her fight each and every step, trying to maintain her form and refrain from breaking into a run. Breathe in, breathe out.
Their worlds collide as he takes her hand and she reaches for his arm. The sound of the crowd surging by falls away as they wrap each other in their maiden embrace. He can feel her heart pounding through her chest as he presses her close. Not a word is spoken as they relish the moment and control their excitement to socially accepted levels. His hand leaves the small of her back and gently moves her hair from her ear. Their eyes lock, her lips part and in that one caress he gives her a piece of his heart.