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Fiction

“Move along, buddy.”

“Hey, man, I’m not doing anything wrong.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard it all before. Come on, give someone else the spot.” The cop stood there unmoving while the younger man gathered his belongings into a backpack scowling. 

Ushering him out the door into the masses the officer nodded his head to the empty seat, looking at me. “Ma’am?”

As relieved as I was to get off my feet, I hardly wanted the attention, nor the title of “Ma’am”. I smiled as I took a seat on the newly empty stool, opting to hold my purchase rather than place it on the messy counter. The aroma of pumpkin spice replacing the smell of weed was refreshing. 

Looking out the window I searched for Alexa. The crowd seemed to move as one, faces flushed and tense, pushing along luggage enroute to their destinations.

What is he going to be like, I wondered for the millionth time. The mysterious text to meet in Miami was on my mind since receiving it last weekend.

I checked my phone for any updates, pleased to see a new notification.

“Just landed,” my daughter’s text from five minutes ago.

Glancing at the array of clocks from each time zone, I quickly calculated that I still had some time before going to her gate. Unlike Reefer Boy, the previous occupier of the seat, my overpriced purchase was a ticket to sit rather than to loiter and I took my first sip. 

Bits and pieces of surrounding conversations floated around me. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but honestly had no choice. The customer at the register was making a to do about her order, repeating the complicated specials as if a lifesaving concoction in a lab or hospital. Come on, lady, mellow out. Maybe I should set her up with Reefer Boy, I thought, fighting the urge to laugh at the image. There’s one in every crowd who has to make a scene.

I couldn’t resist and turned away from the view of the waiting area and craned my neck. Yup, there she was with her husband, boyfriend or whoever the unfortunate man was next to her looking like he wished the floor would open up and swallow him whole. There was a line forming behind them and I heard the exaggerated sighs and witnessed the eyerolls.

Another text vibrated my phone. “Getting off the plane. See you at Gate 11.”

A glance at the sign through the window showed I had a bit of a walk. Using the napkins with the famous logo I cleaned the counter of muffin crumbs, leaving it nicer for the next customer than it was left for me.

Joining the sea of luggage toting travelers, I started my walk to Gate 11 when I sniffed like a bloodhound and caught a scent. No way, not again. Mixed into the stagnant air was the undisputable scent of what we called back in the day MaryJane.

Increasing my pace to a walk-run, I continued my journey to Gate 11 eager to see my daughter after an entire semester without any visits. Becoming trapped in a parade of businessmen in their suits and ties despite the stifling humidity I pushed through with an aggressive stream of excuse me, pardon me like a little fish swimming against the current, fearful of getting swept out to sea. 

Gate 12 appeared with passengers lining up ready to board, paperwork in hand, parents grasping the arms of squirming little ones. One more gate until I see my daughter to find out her big news. My cell chimed simultaneously with another phone close by and when I stopped to respond someone in my peripheral vision did the same.

There she was! Unaffected by the lack of adequate air conditioning Alexa appeared cool, calm, and collected, and quite beautiful. Her eyes darted about, then settled just to the right of me as she took off into a sprint. Waving my arms frantically I tried to get her attention. As if moving in slow motion with the old fashioned whoomp, whoomp, whoomp noise whirring in my head she reached a young man, and they shared quite the passionate greeting.

Pulling apart, she wrinkled her nose, an expression leftover from childhood when something struck her as distasteful, upsetting. What was happening?

I took the final steps to approach my daughter with a smile to light up the entire area, readying myself for whatever was about to unfold. 

“Ma!” She screamed delightedly. “Finally. Meet my boyfriend, Kurt.”

I turned to find myself face to face with none other than Reefer Boy. My heart sunk like a stone. My beautiful daughter. My princess. Didn’t we teach her better than this? I scrambled to find my manners. I didn’t want to be that woman making a scene, the one in every crowd that everyone either pretends isn’t there or watches with amusement like I had just witnessed a few minutes earlier.

“Hello Kurt! Nice to meet you,” I forced a quivering lip smile in his direction.

“Great to meet you too! I’ve been looking forward to this.” He smiled a broad smile, his eyes a pretty shade of blue similar to my daughters’. They made a striking couple. I was surprised, would have been happy.

“Ma, wait until Kurt tells you what happened today. It’s the funniest thing.”

“Yeah, funny to you, maybe. Not so funny to me.” 

“Tell me!” I became curious as to what Alexa considered to be the funniest thing.

“Everything was great until I got into the Uber. It stunk. Like positively reeked of weed. The last riders must have been partying like there’s no tomorrow.”

He paused. 

“Oh wow,” I commented for lack of anything better to say.

“Ever since I got out of that cloud I feel like it’s been following me around. Amazing how people have been treating me since I walked into the airport.” 

My daughter started laughing. “It’s so funny, he’s completely anti-drug, like never even tried pot. I bet he got a buzz in the Uber.” She was outright laughing at him. “Tell my mom what happened when you got here.”

“Yeah, I was minding my own business and got thrown out of Starbucks. Police officer and all. I was mortified.”

Alexa covered her mouth with her hands, hiding her laughter, her new diamond ring flashing, giving away the news before she was ready. I felt the flutter of excitement but kept it in allowing her to tell me at her own pace. I looked at her fiancé, my future son-in-law, seeing how he was laughing good naturedly. 

I felt my face flush thinking of how many times I thought of him as Reefer Boy. I think I’ll keep that to myself for now.

September 17, 2023 18:51

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2 comments

Karen Corr
10:50 Sep 21, 2023

This could have ended so badly for the main character. Somehow she leads a charmed life. Nice story! Thanks Hannah!

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Hannah Lynn
14:00 Sep 21, 2023

Thanks for the read, Karen! Yes, agreed, it could have been disaster!

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