strewn about her bedroom in disarray. The normally organized
jewelry box was a tangle of earrings and necklaces, the
wash-cloth which had taken her make-up off was tossed on the
sink, smeared with red streaks of blush that had since been
reapplied. Her foot slipped back and forth between the gas
and the brake. It wouldn't do to be pulled over. She'd heard
the cops in this area were anal for the law. Fifty-five…
what was that? Sixty-five was acceptable, when she was in a
bad mood. Her friends teased her about having a lead foot.
Her car had battle-scars in it, which she'd made fun of in
the many letters she'd written. Some were to friends, some
were to family, but Drew was neither. She'd met him through
a pen-pal service fluke, two Americans whose paths
"I can't believe I'm doing this," she thought to herself as
she pulled into the parking lot. It wasn't raining, but the
day was slightly overcast and smelled of springtime and
newness. "This is something that I would yell at other
people for doing. There's still time to get out of this."
She stepped out of the car and headed toward the airport.
Then she heard Michael's voice, from a long time ago. His
lengthy courtship culminated with him down on one knee with
an open ring box and sweet words of love. Finally the day
came, and they were in the church ready to tell the world
and God that they were husband and wife. It was like
something dreams were made of. She'd fled that day, though,
said she couldn't go through with it. She couldn't stop
those ill-formed syllables from coming out of her mouth. "I
can't be your wife," she said simply, and that was the end
of it. That had eventually broken them up, his patience had
finally run out. He wanted more out of life, more than an
affair. She deserved better than that and he knew it. "You
can't stand on the side of life and stick your toe in…
either wade in waist-deep or don't go in at all- it's really
That seemed like years ago. Now, the mechanical voice came
over the loudspeaker of the crowded terminal announcing the
arrival of Flight 218, nonstop from New Orleans. Laurie sat
up at the revelation, waiting for a gate number. She tossed
her empty Styrofoam cup in the trash and wiped her moist
palms on the legs of her jeans. "Relax, Laurie," she told
herself, "There's nothing to be nervous about." But she was
more than nervous. She was terrified.
Earlier that morning, she'd spent hours washing and brushing
her long hair, the color and sheen of which made it her most
prominent feature. She wanted to look put together, but not
overdone. Her black glossy mane was pulled into a ponytail
at the nape of her neck and held in place with a fluffy
white bow. She couldn't seem to unwind… her sleek body was
coiled up like a spring. One could have bounced a quarter
off her nerves.
Drew had been her friend and confidante, there for her
laughter and tears. Maybe it would have been better if she
hadn't gotten so personal with him, but she was looking for
a void to fill. It had been a long time since Michael. There
was a bit of a tan line on her finger still, a light stripe
from the sun tattooing her hand as he had left his own
imprint on her heart. "Drew isn't Michael; he won't hurt
me," she reminded herself. "I couldn't have prevented what
happened. What if he doesn't like the way I look? I couldn't
stand that. What if this changes things? If I'm too short?
Too tall? Not his type?"
She tried to stroll nonchalantly but almost tripped over the
strappy sandals she'd bought in an effort to look cute.
"Shouldn't have worn these," she chided herself, the buckle
cutting at her ankle. She didn't know how she was going to
pick him out of a crowd. He'd told her to expect the
unexpected. She wasn't sure what he meant.
Laurie was almost clutching the rail she was so nervous. She
watched a Manson-type rocker with a non-biodegradable blond
on his arm. Behind him was a heavyset lumberjack type,
smelling faintly of whiskey and the mountains. She wondered
what kind of business he had in New Orleans. He didn't seem
the type to sit on a muggy porch drinking java as the city
reluctantly came to wake. The flight attendant offered to
wheel the next client off the plane, but he smiled
pleasantly and declined. He was handsome, with a strong
muscular jaw and twinkling eyes. It was too bad about the
She walked over to the flight attendant and asked if she
could point out Drew Jacobs to her. She nodded toward the
man in the wheelchair and when she glanced back at him, he
smiled. She wanted to run. He wasn't her Prince Charming.
She didn't think the chair would fit on the back of a horse.
"Umm… Drew?" Why hadn't he told her in all those letters?
"Hey baby, wanna wrestle?" he jested, his eyes laughing. He
kissed her hand and told her he'd been looking forward to
meeting her for the first time. And suddenly, she wasn't
nervous about her looks anymore.