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Teens & Young Adult Coming of Age Happy

A yellow taxi screeched up to the snowy entrance of Denver International Airport.

Out of the cab, fell a petite girl wearing bell bottom jeans, a University of Colorado sweatshirt, and a bright cherry red puffer jacket that was just the slightest bit too big for her. Long jet black curls tumbled over her shoulders as she gathered her bags and scrambled out of the cab, throwing the driver a $50 bill and yelling “keep the change”, before racing towards the airport’s automatic doors. For someone with such small limbs she moved astonishingly quickly; it was almost as if she had an electrical current running through her body. Her features matched her energy. The girl’s dark hair contrasted her pale skin which was almost as white as the snow beneath her feet. Her face gave way to a pointed nose and a tapered chin, and her bright, sparky blue eyes met a pair of animated eyebrows; the kind which would struggle to keep any secrets. Her cheeks were bright and rosy, matching the colour of her lips which were neither particularly thin nor full, but held a perfect cupid’s bow and curled ever so slightly at the edges giving away a kind of perpetual grin that likely got her out of all kinds of trouble. 

It was the day before Christmas eve and the airport was awash with travellers rushing home for holidays, and the odd one or two snowbirds who, having clearly had enough of Denver’s especially cold winter, decided that a tropical vacation to the Dominican Republic seemed like a better way to spend the season’s break. The atmosphere was chaotic and everyone seemed to be a little bit antsy. The check-in queue for Delta Airlines looked like it could be a mile long, and the passengers that were lined up in it did not look very happy. Luckily for the girl in the cherry red puffer jacket, it seemed to be moving relatively quickly. She joined the line, tugging her cobalt blue suitcase and oversized brown leather duffle bag with her. Compared to the almost uniformed black jacket and black suitcase travellers in front of her, the girl certainly stood out. She was cutting it close for time; her flight back home to Westport, Connecticut was set to leave at 4.30 pm. It was 3.40. 

“Ellie?” said a surprised voice.

The girl with the cherry red jacket, surprised to hear her name, looked up. In front of her stood an older woman, wrapped in an eccentric, violet flowered shawl and matching skirt. A pair of dangling bead earrings peeped out from under the woman’s greying hair which was pulled back into a low bun, held in place by a beautiful traditional Chinese fa-zan pin. The woman was Ellie’s high school art teacher, Ms. Sun. Ellie had loved her art classes with a passion. While all of her friends at school were outside at recess playing would you rather and two truths and a lie, Ellie would sneak off to the art room and spend time sketching or testing out watercolours with Ms. Sun. Ellie had meant to stay in touch with her teacher after she graduated high school and went off to study health sciences at the University of Colorado, but between all of her school work and the pressure from her parents to start studying and preparing for med school, she had completely forgotten. Seeing Ms. Sun at the airport was, as a result, a pleasant surprise.

“My goodness! Well haven’t you grown up! I could have barely recognized you.” Ms. Sun cried.

“Ms. Sun! It is so lovely to see you, it’s been forever!” beamed Ellie.

“It certainly has! I’ve missed having you in the art room. Have you been keeping up with your art? You really do have such a wonderful talent” Ms. Sun replied.

Ellie looked down at her feet and shook her head. “I wish I could say I have, but I’ve been so swamped with all of my work and getting ready for med school that I haven’t had time.”

“Ah, I see” Ms. Sun replied. “Well, how has that been going?”

“It’s been okay I guess” Ellie sighed. “But honestly I’m not sure if I really want to go to med school. I’ve been taking some art electives in my spare time and I feel so much more alive when I’m drawing. I don’t mind studying the sciences but I feel like I’m only doing it because my parents want me to and I don’t want to disappoint them.”

Ellie was surprised that all of that had all come out of her. Subconsciously, she figured she knew that was how she felt, but she hadn’t been asked by anybody until now. She hadn’t really even asked herself. Her path seemed so set in stone; get in to health sciences, get a 4.0 gpa, get into med school, be a doctor, marry someone from her town and settle down in Connecticut, have children and get them to do the exact same thing, just like their parents, and grandparents, and great grandparents before them. To break from the mold that was set before her didn’t even seem like it could be a possibility at that point. 

Just as Ms. Sun opened her mouth to reply, the airline check-in agent called for her to come to the counter.

“Ma’am!” The lady called. She looked tired. “We’re ready to check you in.”

Ms. Sun turned back to Ellie. “I’d better go, hadn’t I?” she mused. “I’ll come and find you after we are checked in.”

“Sounds great.” Ellie smiled.

Just as Ms. Sun arrived at her check-in booth, Ellie was ushered to another one a few rows down. Ellie grabbed her things and walked over to the counter. The check-in agent at this counter also looked tired; the bags beneath her eyes hinted to Ellie that she had probably been here for a while.

“Good afternoon. How are you today?” The check-in agent began.

Before Ellie could even respond, the agent continued. 

“Can I have your ticket and passport please?” She said.

Ellie handed them over.

“Flight 152 to Westport?” The lady continued. “You’re cutting it close. I hope you’re not planning on checking in any luggage because I’m honestly not sure it will get through in time.”

“No, I’m not,” Ellie replied, feeling embarrassed. Luckily her bags were just small enough to pass as carry-ons. “I’ll be taking them as carry-ons.” 

“Okay good.” The agent replied. “Here’s your passport and boarding pass then. Good luck.”

She handed over the passport and boarding pass over to Ellie and pointed for her to head over to the security line on the left. Ellie joined the queue and looked for Ms. Sun but couldn’t seem to find her anywhere. The waiting area was jam-packed with passengers untying their shoes and rifling through their backs to take out their liquids and electronics. Ellie gave up and stopped looking. Maybe Ms. Sun would be on the same flight to Westport as her, Ellie thought. After all, that was their hometown, where Ms. Sun had taught Ellie in school.

All of a sudden the airport speaker chimed and a nasally voice began to speak on the intercom. “Attention please, this is a boarding announcement for flight 152 to Westport, Connecticut. We are now inviting passengers to begin boarding at this time. Please remember that all customers must be on board the aircraft 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time”

“Crap” Ellie said out loud. A couple of people turned around to look at her.

The check-in agent wasn’t wrong. Ellie had cut it really close. She hadn’t even started going through security yet, and with the flight already boarding, things were not looking good. Ellie checked her watch. It was 4pm. That meant she had a measly 15 minutes to get through security and find the gate before the doors shut. 

Ellie was not usually one to try and cut lines but desperate times call for desperate measures, and this was one of them. She grabbed her things, once again, and skipped in and around the other passengers waiting in line, throwing out an “excuse me” and “I’m so sorry” here and there. Ellie kept her head down so she didn’t have to see the angry faces of the people she was cutting in front of. She got up to the front, ripped off her shoes, slammed her bags down onto the conveyer belt and walked through the airport metal detector.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

“Ughhh not now!” Ellie thought. 

“Excuse me, miss.” The airport security officer said. “I’m afraid I’ll have to pat you down”

Ellie stood as the officer tapped on her arms, around her waist, and down her legs. Not only was it a rather uncomfortable experience, but the officer seemed to be taking his time and, with Ellie already being tight for time, she was beginning to lose her patience.

At that moment the airport speaker chimed again. “Attention please. Would passenger Ellie Richardson on flight 152 to Westport please report to gate 32 please. I repeat, passenger Ellie Richardson to Gate 32.”

“That’s me. I’m boarding. Can I go please? Am I good to go?” Ellie asked between gritted teeth

“Yes, I suppose so.” he sighed. “You may collect your things from the conveyor belt.”

“Thank God” Ellie thought. She slung her leather duffle bag over her shoulder, snatched her suitcase, and rushed through to the exit and in the direction of Gate 32. This was it, she was going to make it! She sprinted up the blue carpeted floor. She could just about make out Gate 32 in the distance. It was only about 200 meters away. At that moment, Ellie wished she had joined the track and field team in high school.

She ran up to Gate 32, just as the doors were closing. 

“I’m here!” Ellie gasped, trying to catch her breath. “I’m Ellie Richardson, I’ve made it in time right?”

The lady at the gate chuckled. “Barely!” 

Ellie sighed with relief.

“You’re actually very lucky. A nice woman by the name of Ms. Sun asked us to wait just an extra 5 minutes for you. She said she was sure you would make it in time. I think you might actually be sitting next to her on the flight!” The lady continued. “Anyway, let me check your passport and boarding pass and I’ll let you find your seat.”

Ellie handed over her documents, got a nod of approval, and was then led to her seat. Ms. Sun was, as Ellie had hoped, right there waiting for her.

“I knew you would make it!” Ms. Sun exclaimed. “You have always been able to accomplish whatever you set your mind to!”

Ellie grinned. Ms. Sun was right. She could. Now she just had to convince her parents she could too…

As the plane took off, Ellie felt herself flying into a new chapter, one with endless possibilities.

December 25, 2021 04:57

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3 comments

Graham Kinross
06:07 Jan 10, 2022

This was good, I hope you do more soon.

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Dustin Gillham
01:31 Jan 01, 2022

Loved what you did here on your first submission. Fun read.

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Maria Avisal
21:46 Dec 31, 2021

I liked this a lot - a random encounter with someone from the past with the potential to change her future trajectory! It's very well written but only suggestion would be to cut down on the character appearance/clothing description a little bit, I don't think it's necessary for the story

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