With every single mile that goes by, her chest is getting a little tighter. So is his, but he forces a smile as he navigates around slower-moving traffic.
Her phone vibrates on her lap.
“My friend Jessica wants to know what you drive,” she says in a quieter voice than usual.
“Oh! It’s a 2014 Ford F150. XLT Super Crew, baby! 4×4, of course. 5.0 Liter, V-8. 6 speed automatic. Tow package. I mean, I don’t have anything to tow, really, but I wanted the option, you know? Drop-in bed liner. Tonneau cover… that I’m still not sure about. The color is called ‘Blue Jeans.’ Not sure how I feel about that either, but whatever. We’re rocking 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, looking so sexy sexy with all-terrain tires. Leather seats. Rear view camera. And I went with the 6-inch chrome step bars. I think they just add something, you know?”
“Truck. Blue.” she says as she texts back.
“Pain in the butt.”
“I know, love.”
“I’m not going to see you for a month.”
“I’m sad too.”
“On the inside? Where your feelings live?”
She puts her hand on his arm.
He directs the blue truck down the exit for the airport.
Her chest gets tighter still.
“I feel like when you spend the day with someone special, it is almost like a montage,” he says out of the blue, as they sit in the most isolated part of the airport.
“Yeeeaaaah,” she replies.
“Can I have one more picture? To hold me over?”
“That’s a lot of vowels, dear.”
She gets up and stands by the brick wall.
“What do you want me to do?” she asks.
“Show me how you’re feeling.”
And she does. He snaps a pic.
“You somehow make still photos look animated,” he says.
“I majored in that in college.”
“Double majored in general adorableness?”
She climbs on his lap and puts her forehead against his.
“It’s like you’re looking into my soul,” he says.
“What am I seeing?”
“Mostly good stuff. A smattering of megalomania.”
She laughs. Finally.
He kisses her nose.
The teacher from Peanuts comes on the P.A. system. “Flight jbnfjdbs is now boarding at gate nfjdksnfw.”
“That’s my flight. I mean, probably,” she says.
“Siiiiiigh,” she sighs.
“It’s only four weeks.”
“Right. And I have some awesome and exciting things I’m getting to do this month.”
“Yup! Go make the world a better place!” he says.
“Oh. I slipped something into your carry-on when you left it unattended.”
“But that’s one of the questions they’re going to ask me at security!”
He makes an “eeeep” face, and then smiles. Big.
She scrunches her nose in reply.
He melts. Puddle.
She plops down into her seat on the sparsely populated plane, clutching her carry-on to her chest. She deeply inhales some recycled air, and then slowly lets it out.
She feels about seventy-three different feelings, but tries to focus on the good ones.
Curiosity takes the lead.
She opens her carry-on and finds a paper bag. With the patina of nervousness that usually accompanies his surprises, she peeks inside.
She pulls a bag of chips with a strange and specific flavour out first. There is a post-it attached. “You’re the only person on the planet who likes these. They taste like old gym socks and regret, you little weirdo.”
Next it’s a bag of some cheesey snack treats that have never so much as been in the same room as actual cheese. The post-it reads, “I’d make a shitty (and handsome) nutritionist.”
Then a chocolate bar. On the post-it it says, “Do NOT read the ingredients for this one.” She flips it over and finds another post-it. “You don’t listen very well.”
Many calories and dollars spent later, she gets to the very bottom of the bag and finds a large pink origami heart, covered with his unmistakable handwriting.
She turns it around and looks at the bottom. She slowly begins unfolding it to find the beginning.
“It’s a love letter! On an actual heart! Not gonna lie, I am pretty proud of myself right now. Well, most of the time, really. I don’t know where to start, as I have 384756 words that I want to share with you, and only so much pink paper heart real estate. But I’ll start here: I get it. I do. I want you to know that I see it. That I see how special you are. I get it.
I get you.
Neither of us know what the future holds (robot butlers!), but even if someday you decide to make just a spectacularly terrible life decision and call us off, I’m still going to be so thankful that I know you exist in this world.
That somewhere you’re doing everything you can to make the world a shinier place. And succeeding so spectacularly that it makes me want to cry a little.
I’m completely in awe of you. I’ve decided that you’re the single greatest argument in favour of cloning.
Have a wonderful flight. I’m already smiling with excitement at the thought of getting to hear your voice again as soon as you land. I miss you.
-ps I’m not saying this so you’ll adore me even more, but to learn how to make an origami heart, it took me FIVE days. And two pretty nasty paper cuts. I’ll never be a hand model now. Might be for the best. That industry is SO political.
-pps Just the hugest love.”
He drives home, more slowly than before, as The National’s “I Need My Girl” plays, creating the perfect montage-y moment. His shoulder smells like her just-shy-of-unkempt hair. He thinks about how her smile looks like an absolute necessity.
His eyes open wide with epiphany.
“I should have totally hidden her passport!”
She stuffs her mouth with the world’s most objectionable potato chips, as she laughcrys.
And starts reading it again.
1000 Words is a blog series where I write a fiction piece of EXACTLY one thousand words about a photo that moves me. To make it more fun and challenging, I have to write the very first story that pops into my head when looking at the photo. And I have to keep it as first draft-y as possible, while still making it somewhat entertaining. Hopefully. If you have, or have seen, any pics that you think might inspire me to write 1000 Words, feel free to send them over.