11 June 2013


He watches the dark horizon become green then red as the sun rises, and he is sorry to see the day come. He has not slept at all on the long flight and now, with daylight arriving, he realizes there will be no other chance to sleep. Not for a long while.

The buildings below remain charcoal silhouettes, a few dotted with lights, most of them black. He is not familiar enough with this city to pick out anyplace. The landing gear goes down with a thud beneath his feet and the captain is speaking, too loud in what had been such quiet. He prefers overnight flights for just that reason; people sleep (he never can) and the noise, the talking is minimal.

He drags himself up the jetway and through the airport, trying to create and maintain some kind of momentum for himself. He must keep moving. It will be that kind of day, place to place, never stopping. He worries how he might appear and wonders if and when the adrenaline will kick in. He would go for caffeine but it would only make him shaky.

She is in baggage claim; he sees her when he stumbles free of Customs, her face impossibly blank and smooth as she watches first this person, then a couple, a family. Something she sees brings the suggestion of a smile to her lips and he's tempted to turn and look, see if he can find this minor blessing, but he does not want to take his eyes off her. He is so tired, feels as if he's been swimming a long time, and she is dry land, his savior.

Finally, she spots him. Her smile stretches just enough to show she's pleased, but he doesn't miss the concern in her eyes. He realizes he cannot move. He's lost the little bit of momentum he'd had. She sees and understands and crosses to him, and when she hugs him, he puts his weight into it, nigh collapsing onto her. She holds him up.

She always holds him up.

He wants to cry. He wants to crawl into the shelter of her arms and stay there indefinitely. But she urges him forward, gently, directing their steps toward the luggage carousel. She will keep him moving through this long day, and at the end of it will come the peace he craves.

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