Skip to main content

Willingness

Surprise at the Terminal (Revised)*

She sat by herself in a corner of the airport terminal, beat-up purple backpack at her feet, and an equally beat-up CD player sitting in her lap. The set of headphones covering her ears had seen better days, gray duct tape the only thing holding them together. A pair of faded jeans bearing evidence of a recent bleach spill covered her legs, and a baggy t-shirt and boldly striped flannel hung over her shoulders.

Other passengers waiting in the terminal gave her a wide berth, but she seemed oblivious to them, her head bobbing and her lips moving in time to her music. Whoever this girl was, it was clear she was on her own and she preferred it that way.

I don't know what brought me to sit down beside her. Maybe it was seeing other people walk past her, or maybe it was the antisocial stance she seemed to exude. Whatever it was, I never could have predicted what she did when I sat down.

A bright smile crossed this girl's pixie-ish face and the headphones came off as I settled my carry-on bag at my feet. When I straightened up for what I expected to be a silent wait, it was a pleasant surprise to see her looking at me with that smile when I sat back up.

"Heidi," she said, extending her hand in greeting. "And you are?"

"Jordan," I replied, shaking it briefly. "It's nice to meet you."

"Ditto." Heidi's smile widened. "Where are you headed?"

"Chicago." I looked down at my carry-on - a laptop case. I'm a newspaper reporter and I was on assignment. Some big guy originally from my city was set to make a major announcement there, and I was assigned the story. This was my first assignment out of town. I could not mess this up.

"Cool." Heidi nodded. "I'm going to Boston."

I had not asked, but something about Heidi said I needed to find out more than where she was going. Something beyond her immediate appearance let me know it would be worthwhile to talk to her - beyond the smile animating her face and the light dancing in her otherwise ordinary brown eyes.

So I sat with Heidi and listened as she willingly shared her story. My tape recorder was in the bag with my laptop, but I never dug it out - I will always remember her story. She laughingly said her entire life to this point was a cliché, but the more I listened, the less I agreed with her.

Heidi is a survivor, armed with a quick wit and joyful optimism like I have never seen in my lifetime. She is a survivor of the foster care system, never knowing anything but a life of constant upheaval as the state moved her from home to home. Given her circumstances, the confidence she showed was difficult for me to understand - especially when she told me why she was going to Boston.

Heidi's reasons were twofold - she was starting her freshman year at Boston College and she was reuniting with her mother's family.

“I hear they have a lot of money,” she told me, laughing. “But I don’t really care. I just want to know about my parents.”

“And you can forgive them for leaving you there?” I had to ask. Forgiveness was something I struggled with, and Heidi’s willingness to do so despite her abandonment astonished me.

“They didn’t know about me.” Heidi shrugged. “Besides, holding onto a grudge would only make me bitter.”

A voice came over the speakers, calling my flight. I was disappointed to hear it because I still didn’t understand Heidi and was sure I wouldn’t see her again. But Heidi surprised me for the second time that day. She pulled a pen and paper out of her backpack and scrawled something down on it before folding it and handing it to me.

“This way you can get a hold of me,” she said.

I didn’t look at the paper until after my flight had taken off, and I smiled when I saw what Heidi had written - her name and school box number, along with, “Can’t wait to finish the conversation, Jordan.” I knew, as I folded the paper up again and put it carefully in my pocket, I would write her, because our conversation was one I would never forget.

* This is a revised version of an entry originally written for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge, week of February 21, 2005.

Link to previous entry: http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level2-previous.php?id=841

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Metaphors: Candles

I've recently fallen in love with candles. Since coming home from the World Race , I've bought at least one a month. My favorite candles are the ones that come in glass jars - because when they burn out, I can clean the remaining wax out and put the jars to other uses. Right now,  that means they get cleaned out and packed away in anticipation of my move to Flagstaff. But as I was lighting one tonight (vanilla spice... Thanksgiving smells? Yes, please!), I saw a metaphor for writing flickering away in the flame licking at the wick and melting the wax. I suppose it could be a metaphor for life in general, but since the theme of this blog is writing... Well, you do the math.

[Five Minute Friday] Purpose

Fiber bars, strewn along the side of the road. There had to be at least a dozen of them, still in their wrappers and completely unopened. No box in sight. Really? That's about the reaction my younger sister and I had when we stumbled on them on our early morning run. Really? along with disgusted sighs about the wastefulness of it. These were the expensive ones, not a generic store brand that kind of tastes and kind of looks the same sometimes. So, when we weren't keeping an eye out for their box, we speculated about what had happened. And wondered how many more we were going to see before the end of our run. "Maybe they took one bite and thought they were gross," my sister said. "So they threw them out because they didn't want them anymore." I let out one of those disgusted sighs and nodded along with her theory. "Yeah, or they got in a huge fight, and threw them out in a fit of rage." "That's a possibility." And

Book Review: Always Gray in Winter

Happy Thursday! Welcome to the first book review of Spring 2019. Today, I'm looking at science fiction and furry writer Mark J. Engels' debut novel, Always Gray in Winter - which is also the first in a series. Disclaimer/Permission Tag: The book for this month's review was provided to me for free by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review of their work. Also, the cover art is being used with permission of the author. Always Gray in Winter Mark J. Engels, 2017, Thurston Howl Publications Description:  A distant daughter. A peculiar device. A family lineage full of secrets. When werecat Pawlina Katczynski finally resurfaces, her location previously unknown to anyone close to her, the reunion is short of welcomed. Instead, she finds herself thrust tooth and nail—tooth and claw—into a feud between opposing werecat clans as her family and their enemies reignite a battle that has raged for years. Always Gray in Winter invites the reader to j