I was shaking so badly my teeth were chattering. I felt as if I were in sub-zero temperatures, though it was the middle of summer and stifling hot inside the airport. Yet I just couldn't stop trembling, no matter what I did. I was scared my bones would snap apart. I don't know why, but the thought of the death rattle flashed through my mind. At that, I did become chilled.
Stop it! I ordered the macabre thoughts out of my mind. This is a happy day. Kristian is finally coming home. I couldn’t help but let out a light chuckle. Guess macabre thoughts never leave a horror writer’s head.
A million butterflies took off from my stomach and zoomed around inside me. They crashed into each other as they performed loop-de-loops and other cocky aerial tricks at careless speeds. My heart raced, and sweat dripped out of places I didn't even know could sweat.
This is silly. I laughed at myself. Why am I acting like a little boy? This is Kristian. The man I've been with for ten years.
The only man I’ve ever been with.
"Why am I so nervous?" I wondered aloud.
I answered myself, knowing I must look like a crazy person.
"Because you haven't seen him in two and a half years. Or, to be more exact, two years, nine months, two weeks, three days, ten hours, two minutes, and twenty-three . . . no . . . twenty-four seconds."
I sighed. "Are you really that pathetic that you actually kept track of the time he was gone, right down to the last second?"
"Yes!" I fired back at myself in a weird attempt to prove my sanity, though I only succeeding in making several people turn and look at me. Smiling in embarrassment, I kept the rest of my internal argument silent.
Keeping track of the time kept me from losing my mind. It gave me hope that my Kristian would be back. Someday.
That had been my fear since Kristian had been shipped out to Iraq. Every day I was terrified I would get a call saying he had been kidnapped. Or killed. I never watched the news or read the papers because I worried I would see his face or name listed among the missing or dead.
These last two years were the longest and hardest for me. I truly didn't think I would make it. I know I couldn't have gone on if he died.
The only thing that made me get out of bed every day was Kristian's letters. He and I wrote each other every day, describing in minute detail all we had done. Every time I hungered for him, I would read and reread his letters long into the wee morning hours.
I checked the schedule. Kristian's flight was on time.
Still three hours to go before he even departed. I laughed at myself. Had I actually gotten to the airport thirteen hours early?
Yes, I had.
Did I really plan on staying there all day, all thirteen hours, until his plane touched down?
Yes I was. It was ridiculous, but I was so nervous. I was scared that, if I didn't leave ridiculously early, some kind of catastrophe would prevent me from meeting Kristian at the baggage claim. And, call me a fool, but I actually thought getting there early would somehow make Kristian's flight arrive early.
Falling into one of the uncomfortable airport chairs with a sigh, I stared around the large, cavernous airport. It was like a melting pot of every race, creed and sexual orientation one could dream up. It was fun watching the hustle and bustle of the terminal: the tearful goodbyes, people rushing to catch a flight that was just about to take off, the arguments with the agents over lost luggage, people sleeping as they waited for connections or to get on a plane as a standby passenger.
Needing to take my mind off the waiting and the fact that time seemed to be standing still, I took out my notebook and began to people-watch, jotting down details of anyone unusual or interesting, giving them backstories, creating reasons why they were at the airport. Perhaps some of them would become characters in my next book, which was long overdue.
The regal-looking black woman with her perfectly tailored pantsuit, designer luggage, makeup that only enhanced her natural exotic beauty and not one single hair out of place: was she a model traveling to Paris for a big job? Perhaps she was a famous actress who had just closed a critically acclaimed show on Broadway and was returning to her Hollywood Hills mansion to spend the days by her pool, sipping mimosas and reading scripts.
Or what about the older couple who were constantly holding hands and smiling at everyone they met? Sure, they looked friendly, but maybe they were international spies, scared the police would catch up with them before the plane took off and discover a king's ransom in their carry-on bags.
And what about the handsome young man who looked like his middle name was "Frat Boy?" A full ride to Harvard on a football scholarship perhaps, where he would spend his nights partying, sleep with every girl on campus and then pay off a nerd so he could pass his classes. He was a natural flirt, winking and smiling at every woman who passed by, making small talk with the ones who sat next to him. I couldn't help but smile as I imagined him becoming the newest member of the Mile High Club as soon as the captain turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign.
Smiling widely, I quickly jotted down all of these descriptions in my notebook before they vanished. Damn. It really did feel good to hold a pen and notebook again. In my opinion, that was the best kind of word processor a writer could own.
For the first time since Kristian had left me, I seriously considered getting back to work. I hadn't written a thing, not even a shopping list, since he had left. Kristian was my muse. My inspiration. My harshest critic and biggest fan. Since he'd been gone, every time I tried to write, nothing. And I had never suffered from writer's block before in my life! I hoped I would never have to suffer through that agonizing torture ever again. Now I understood why Hemingway killed himself.
I do have to admit it felt great to write again. I started to feel like my old self. Once I started, the only thing that made me stop was the painful rumbling of my stomach.
I looked at my watch and wasn't surprised that my stomach was growling like a Sasquatch. I couldn't believe how fast the time had gone. I still had an hour before Kristian was scheduled to land. Had I really written for twelve hours straight? It felt like I had only been at it for twenty minutes. That had to be some kind of weird record. I wanted to wait for him so we could eat together, but I was so dreadfully hungry I was scared I would pass out. Some welcome home present, right?