It was getting close to noon. Dave drained another cup, stood up and stretched his legs. Arrivals or Departures?
Arrivals was usually his favourite part of the airport. But Christmas at the Airport #4 had been a bad one. The optimism that he’d actually take flight had faded and he felt he was stuck in a doorless prison. He was very single, very unemployed and his outlook was bleak. He was dreaming of a drizzly Christmas.
He spent that year at Departures. The sobbing children soothed him. His misery was lightened by the weeping of parting lovers. It wasn’t his proudest moment.
A choir dressed in tartan started singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. A dancing Christmas Tree waltzed past the main aisle. Dave followed her down to Arrivals.
A small crowd waited at the glass doors for a west-coast flight. Dave wandered up and waited, too. No one could tell he wasn’t there to greet anyone. No one could tell he didn't belong. You could stand there all day with a hesitant smile on your face.
He edged up next to a big family. Four women and one baby.
The baby goggled up at him. Dave goggled at the baby. The baby was wearing a Santa hat and Christmas clothes. His aunt Suzanne informed Dave this was Fisher’s first trip to the airport – and his first Christmas, to go by his size.
His mother, Maryanne, stood closest to the glass doors. Electricity opened them and all of the waiters caught their breath.
It wasn’t their sister. Maryanne, Suzanne, Joanne (who was Anne? Dave wondered) and Jillian stood down.
There was some squabbling over who was the oldest sister.
“We’re all fighting over whose house to go to,” Suzanne joked, not taking her eyes off the door.
Suzanne had spent the last ten years teaching English in China with her husband, an engineer. After a decade wandering the Far East, the heavy gravity of family had pulled them home in 2009.
“This is our first Christmas home in a long time,” Suzanne said, juggling Fisher.
“It’s been rare that we’ve all been together. It feels good. I have a spirit that I haven’t had in a while.”
Dave's smile crumpled. It had been a very long time since he'd felt that spirit. He slipped to the back of the ground and walked away before the happy reunion.