Jessica Yin’s excerpt from her short story Reunion focuses on the chance encounter between two past lovers and leaves us on cliffhanger in an airport. On this Friday 13th let’s hope none of us run into any ghosts…
It’s not every day that you see a ghost in the airport.
Of all places, of all the locations that it could have chosen, appearing in the airport was a particularly low blow, even for an apparition. Airports were a place of security – the metaphysical, fluffy variety as well as the searched and scanned to the soul kind. Flying monthly from state to state and country to country meant learning to breeze with practiced efficiency through check-in and security so that I could claim my usual spot in the United Business Lounge – tucked away at a desk in the business center with a cup of Earl Grey or black coffee, depending on the morning. Between sips, I’d slowly work my way through emails that demanded to be answered, memos that needed writing, and new accounts that required my initial evaluation. A few minutes after the intended boarding time, I’d pack up my things, clean up the area, and nick a Lifesaver from the bowl on the front desk. It was all a well-rehearsed routine, comfortable with no surprises and nothing that could faze me.
Nothing, of course, until that morning when I looked up from my sister’s snapchat of her potential wedding dress and saw him standing there; dark, brown hair sweeping across his forehand in the same manner as when I had last ran my hands through them while he slowly nodded off beside me. He looked good in a suit, like he had when I finally convinced him that swaying to one slow song wasn’t going to kill him and he whispered he’d do it for love. Even from a few feet away, I could hear his voice flash and leap through the air, quick and passionate as he smiled victoriously at the response from his travel companion, who shook his head grudgingly to admit defeat in whatever argument had just transpired.
It had been ten years since our last argument, the one that ended with me sitting stubbornly on the bed in my apartment, watching the clock tick away the hour of his plane’s departure. We had not spoken since then, both too proud to admit we were wrong and give the other the satisfaction of having the power – of winning some silly, non-existent game we created in our minds. Years went by and I kept my brain busy so that my heart wouldn’t feel itself breaking, so that my body couldn’t miss that piece of me he took with him. I moved on and yet I could not breathe as he stood there like a ghost. I never expected him to haunt me again, like a monster I had locked away in the attic of my past that blinked in pain at the sudden, exposing light. He had no right to be here in my world, to paralyze me in the place I felt most in control. He had no right to make my heart beat faster because my heart was no longer his to effect or his to claim. Apparently, however, my body was not mine to claim either, because the word rose up and out without my consent, passing my lips before I could question the intelligence of dusting off old, finished chapters of my life and adding to them anew.
He turned, those intelligent, hazel-brown eyes glinting in a moment of rare confusion before they widened in disbelief, staring and holding my gaze as if I was the ghost – the one invading his world with my presence. Wordlessly, time fell away and we stood. The moments we once shared passing in a flash as thoughts once suppressed shot to the surface: images of tangled limbs, desperate moans, tender kisses, late-night walks. His lips parted and I remembered their soft taste, the sigh of pleasure exhaled into them by mine as they touched each time in a moment of delicious perfection. Too long we held that gaze, too long we lost ourselves in the past. Thankfully, his friend and his blissful confusion of all this history coughed to draw our attentions back to the present. He blinked and shook his head, a well-worn smile gracing his lips and setting his face back to a mask of poise and charm.
“Fresher, it’s been a long time. How are you?”
He walked with measured steps towards me and I met him halfway, hesitating only briefly before stepping into his warm embrace, a hug that was over all too quickly.
“I had hoped I’d one day outgrow that name, but I suppose it was not meant to be. I’m good, great actually. How about you? What brings you to my side of the world?”
He laughed, shaking his head.
“A business trip, actually. I work for a consulting company in London that’s being brought in to cooperate on some social impact policies that the company’s branch in New York is attempting to implement globally. And you? Is it business or pleasure that brings you to this gate?”
“Business as well, actually. I work for a consulting company in New York. I was away on business and am going back because we have a few new accounts that need my input. I actually work in the social impact sector, coincidentally. What company do you work for?”
“Deloitte, the London branch.”
He paused, as the color drained from my face and my smile faltered ever so slightly.
“Deloitte. I also work for Deloitte, New York branch. I only just read an email telling me about our cooperative effort with employees from other branches in our network. The world is so small, isn’t it? What are the odds?”