Instant Friendship

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?

The two girls hadn’t spoken, or even made eye contact on the small plane that brought them to this airport; instead, they came together at the gate after their flight.

The brunette who’d worn her Walkman and kept to herself the entire trip reached out to the shy blonde, possibly because they were the only two teenagers in sight.

After mutual confessions of nicotine addiction, they giggled conspiratorially and agreed to find the nearest bathroom to sneak a cigarette before rushing on to the next leg of their separate but similar journeys.

Fortunately, no one else entered the ladies’ in this airport that had already banned smoking rooms, unlike Salt Lake City International, where they’d been a few hours ago. This was nearly twenty years ago, when smoking was not the social monster it is today.

They chatted amiably during those few moments of privacy, until the blonde girl realized she only had about fifteen minutes to find her gate to catch her flight home. They quickly flushed the evidence and exited the restroom.

A shuttle train whisked them between terminals during their last minutes together. The blonde girl smiled and bid her new friend farewell when her stop arrived, all too quickly. The brunette smiled in return, lifting a hand in goodbye as the doors sighed shut to end their brief interlude of camaraderie.

As the blonde girl headed toward her gate, thought of this experience slowly receded in her mind, and even more rapidly when she broke into a huge smile at seeing two of her best high school buddies waiting patiently on the hard, molded plastic chairs.

They’d called her mother to find out if and when she would be stopping at that airport, and taken a bit of time from their day to brighten hers.

The three embraced, happy to see each other again after having so many miles between them. A brief tinge of regret for those extra minutes spent with someone she’d never see again caused a second of pain, but this was quickly overridden by her joy and surprise at her friends’ thoughtfulness.

They said their goodbyes, and the girl boarded her plane home with a full heart, still wearing a smile.

***

Ah, the nineties. When smoking was still okay in some airports, and you didn’t need a ticket to surprise someone at the gate. Airports can be magical places; at least, they once were. I’ve only seen those guys a handful of times since, but this memory stays with me, as fresh as yesterday’s breakfast. A mushroom and cheese omelet, if you’re wondering.

I do wonder, though: if we’d had cellphones or Facebook then, would I still be in touch with that other girl?

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8 Comments on “Instant Friendship”

  1. susieshy45 says:

    Yes you would. And there was the thing called letters too. If you had taken her address, you could have sent her a letter.

  2. Shawn says:

    Some good things aren’t meant to last.

  3. Dani says:

    I thought this was a piece of fiction at first, but I love that it’s a true story. I wonder if the girl ever looks back and thinks of you? I’d bet that she does.

    • April says:

      Wouldn’t it be great if she read this and remembered me?

      I did consider leaving the aside out, for you as the reader to presume fiction or not, but I thought it was a good idea to explain the dated references. Which panned out when Ian read it and goggled at smoking in airports. 🙂

  4. loupmojo says:

    I don’t think you would still be in touch. One cigarette in an soulless transit station does not a friend for life make 😉

    • April says:

      Ah, but the possibilities are what make life so tolerable!

      I’d never presume to find a BFF in such circumstances today, in my mid-thirties, but we were at that age when lasting friendships are absolutely always possible. I think my nostalgia is showing! 🙂


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