Layover By D.I. Jolly

Henry finished his book and looked at his watch. Still 6 hours before his connecting flight. He sighed and started scrolling through his Kindle looking for something else to read. All at once his music stopped playing and the battery light on the Kindle started flashing. He looked around at all the people in the waiting area and realised there wasn’t going to be a free power source for a while. Looking at his watch again he decided it was five o’clock somewhere. So packed up his stuff and went in search of a bar. After many long boring corridors, he found a small airport lounge, mostly abandoned except for a woman sitting alone and the barman cleaning glasses.

“So, come here often?”

The woman turned a confused look towards him and was greeted by a charming but tired smile. She let out a little laugh and his shoulders relaxed.

“This might be the first time that line is ever going to work. Because no, this is my first time actually, what about you?”

He took up the seat next to her.

“Mine too, also it’s the first time I’ve ever used that line, but so far 100% success rate.”

The woman smiled and raised an eyebrow.

“You either have a lot of faith in your abilities to charm a woman, or don’t fully understand the turn ‘pick up line.’”

Henry blushed, suddenly realising what he’d said and fumbled over his next few words causing the woman to laugh again.

“Sorry no, that, that, that’s not what I meant. God damn, I can’t even blame alcohol.”

“I know right, it’s not like it’s busy. I’ve managed to have exactly one glass of wine in an hour. I’m Amanda, by the way.”

“Henry, nice to meet you, and let’s see what we can do about that, Barman!”

The barman turned around to see both Henry and Amanda smiling broadly at him and sidled over. They got themselves some drinks and fell easily into conversation. They spoke about where they were from, where they were going, how long they were stuck in the airport, what books they’d read, the movies they’d watched on the flights. She made charming look effortless and he smiled every time she laughed at one of his silly jokes.

Henry gradually became aware that they were flirting with each other and that it was going really well. The tone of the conversation took on a more ‘deep and meaningful’ quality and their chairs shifter closer together so that their legs could rest against one another. Henry casually put his hand on hers and they locked fingers. An hour passed this way as they openly discussed their lives, hopes and dreams until finally, the conversation came to a natural break they both leaned forward and kissed.

The intercom system chimed and announced.

“Now boarding Flight SN1574 could all passengers please processed to Gate 42.”

Amanda pulled away and rested her head on Henry’s shoulder.

“Oh, what horrible timing.”

“Your flight?”

“Yip.”

They sat in silence for a moment before she pulled herself upright and frowned.

“This is such bull shit, I’ve been single for ages, I’ve got two online dating accounts and now in the middle of nowhere in an airport you come along and we literally live on different sides of the world. It’s not fair.”

“I know imagine how my wife feels.”

Amanda’s hand slammed hard against the side of Henry’s face with a loud crack and he sat motionless for a moment before opening his eyes.

“I was joking, just trying to ease the mood. Sorry.”

Amanda quickly put her hands over her face.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry.”

Henry smiled.

“No, it’s my fault, I shouldn’t have said it, bad joke, bad joke.”

She gently rubbed the bright red handprint on his face, and a tear slipped from her eyes. Henry frowned and scooped her into his lap so he could wrap his arms around her.

“It’s really not fair, I really like you, I haven’t met anyone I’ve gotten along with so well and so comfortably … Well, ever actually.”

The intercom sounded again.

“Second boarding call for Flight SN1574 could all passengers make their way to Gate 42 immediately.”

“I really have to go.”

They kissed again and Henry let her slip off his lap to her feet.

“Would it’, would it make sense to stay in touch, make a plan maybe?”

But even as he said it he found himself losing faith in the words, knowing that it didn’t. They stared at each other for one long last second, then she set her jaw, picked up her bag and without a goodbye hurried off to her gate, leaving Henry once again alone in an airport waiting for his connecting flight.

 

 

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