The Terminal

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece set entirely in an airport. Take us on an adventure in 450 words or less.

I grabbed my coffee from the tired looking barista,the bags under her eyes suggested an early morning shift. I felt the outside of my jacket pocket making sure I had my phone and a pack of Marlboro. All I had to do was find an empty seat at the Delta waiting gate. Time was going by too slow for me. You would not know that by simply watching the comings and goings of the people in Sea-Tac airport. Everyone was in some kind of hurry, at least it seemed that way to an outsider.

The flight attendants rushing to make their flight as they glance down at their wrist for the time, the business men and women with their laptop and fancy matching bags, the solider who looked as if he was saying good bye to his wife,but maybe not? Don’t the soldiers leave with their platoon? Over by the soda machine looks to be a twenty something year old son who was joyfully greeting his parents. That’s how it should be. That will not be how I am greeted.

I should not even be here. I know he will not be on the plane. Things are different now and they have been for a very long time. Jack and I had no control over situations, yet here I am, and I am feeling like I am giving what little control I have over to the unknown.

It has been three years since I have seen my husband. Three years since that fateful night at our local Italian restaurant. The night where everything changed.

Our fate was chosen for us that night, and yet, here I am, waiting for him, knowing he wont show up. I should have just accepted it then.

“Delta flight number 502 is now approaching the terminal”

That’s his plane. Assuming he is on it of course. I need a smoke. There is nowhere to smoke in this airport without walking a mile outside.

I threw my already cold coffee away and waited. Should I put my hair up? He always liked my hair up. What am I talking about? After three years, the last thing he will notice is my hair. Do I even care anymore what he thinks about my freakin hair much less everything else?

I cannot do this;I have to do this. I have to wait.

Just like that night, I waited.

Slowly, one by one, passenger after passenger emerged from the gate. I did not see Jack, I already knew this, yet I could not leave. I had to wait to make sure every last person was off the plane.

There was an older man, early 70’s with an overcoat and fedora. As soon as he came through the gate he tipped his hat to security while a much younger, attractive female ran into his arms,then, then that’s when I saw the familiar face.

“Hey Gina,it’s been awhile”

I already knew the answer to my question.

“Where is Jack, where is my husband?”

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7 thoughts on “The Terminal

  1. I like the set-up here. I can feel her anxiety and that nervous energy that makes time move too slowly. The dialogue at the end seems a bit stilted for the situation, a little too formal. It might be something to play around with a bit.

  2. You definitely get a sense of nerves and butterflies. How will this end? The reader gets wrapped up in the tension you've built.

    There's an urgency to her inner dialogue, I sense the thoughts keep tumbling over and over, rushing in to crowd each other but the writing style you chose doesn't convey that as effectively as it could. Maybe slide in more contractions, and shorter sentences?

    I agree with Angela, the dialogue should be rewritten to be a bit more hectic, missing words…maybe some blocking to show how she reacts to this person.

  3. Excellent build up of anxiety!

    I would echo the comments on the dialogue/prose above as concrit: allow your prose to mirror the character's mindset.

    I think you did a great job of that here: “I cannot do this; I have to do this. I have to wait.”

    The short sentence and repetition build your character's sense of determination in the face of anxiousness well!

  4. definitely anxiety filled. And intriguing that someone she knows did come to talk to her, even if it weren't her husband… I want to know more about that aspect of the story!

  5. I agree that the emotional tension was strong here, I think what would have built it even more for me was if I had known what happened that night at the Italian restaurant, it could still be vague, but something that let me know how things changed, did they fight, or was he killed, something for me as the reader to hold on to, it would raise the tension even more for me as the reader if I knew we wait was hopeless or hopeful.

    I really liked the man in the Fedora in the end, he brought both an anchor to the story and mystery, I did in fact briefly wonder if that man was in fact Jack.

  6. Great take on the prompt.

    Apart from the others' suggestions, my concrit would be to revisit the verb tense. There are a few spots where the tenses are mixed. Also the first sentence felt awkward. Instead of using “I” to start, try flipping the subject about: “The barrista stifled a yawn and handed the latte to me with a tired smile.”

    There's also a moment where you broke the invisible fourth wall into the reader's world. This isn't an evil thing, but it can serve to detract from the story. “You would not know that by simply watching the comings and goings of the people in Sea-Tac airport.” Try replacing “You” with “One” or rephrasing this within the other sentences. “The people in the Sea-Tac airport terminal blurred with speed and purpose, as if time refused to move for me.”

    Also you'll want to be aware of the time period of your story. Security measures since 9/11 would indicate that this piece would be happening at baggage claim or on the curb instead of the actual gates.

    The structure, bones of this are excellent. I like the idea of an absentee husband, and that someone else knows where he is. There's so many different directions these characters could go. I look forward to seeing which path you choose. 🙂

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