In the bathroom, a blonde woman with a lovely tightened and well-pickled face watches your reflection in the mirror. Out of her beautiful pink mouth, a question: "Is it just me or is today an emotional day?" It's just Christmastime, you say. She raises an eyebrow. You elaborate: Christmas just makes people emotional. "No," she says, raking at her hair with French-tipped nails. "I don't think so."
Your newfound ability to remember detail is magnificent, a triumph. What kind of sneakers is the man in Security wearing? Purple Nikes, of course, the swoop a white splash. A woman wears reindeer socks, red noses are glittering pompoms. A pilot races down the hallway ahead of you. On his rolling bag, a pin: The Fun Meter. It is set permanently to bright green. Major fun.
Maybe you are noticing these things because you are only looking down as you walk to your gate.
Every mother seems to be traveling with a son. Or with two or three. Packs of stunning little boys roam before you, laughing and crying and eating soft pretzels, a school of fish out-swimming a shark.
You sit at the bar and get a glass of red wine like this is a normal day. Like it doesn't immediately curdle the nothing in your stomach, the acid and bile, like it won’t make microscopic perforations on the fatty skin of your already inflamed liver.
All I want for Christmas is you. It plays everywhere. Even in the bathroom you've retreated to, again. It plays while your pink vomit splatters on that unmistakable utilitarian silver airport toilet metal. See? Details.
You never bought him a wedding gift.
Two men with deep, slow Southern accents are seated next to you at the bar. "My wife loves vodka sodas," the one in the camo hat says.
"What are you trying to say, man?" the one with the red beard says. He has just ordered a vodka soda. You imagine them fighting. Maybe they'd hit you too. Maybe they'd knock you the fuck out, if you ask the right way.
You fuck both of them in the bathroom.
No you don't. But you wonder what that might be like. How best to obliterate the self. How best to sever the netting between conscious mind and the meat of your body.
Best to have never had a self at all. Clock’s ticking, an hour until boarding. You finally understand: you'd trade every person in this airport for him to be alive again. You look around—a woman folds her napkin, wipes it in a circle around a child's mouth, an elderly man drinks from a water fountain, an entire family stands bewildered in front of a Departures sign. Bye-bye, you'd say, pushing the button that kills every single one of them, in exchange for him. And you wouldn't feel bad about it. You'd be thankful you had the opportunity.
You fly above an unimaginably beautiful sunset. You don't care if you die, so your fear of flying has evaporated and you're able to look out your window. Poof! Your storied, medically-documented history of in-flight hyperventilation, your precious, panicked bitch of a heart—silenced. You're very high in the air, so what you see is a hot orange light spread like a carpet over the marble clouds. Gorgeous.
You flew to Rome with him when you were nine. He was thirteen. That is the last time you can remember being unafraid on a plane. You shared peanuts. He turned the air conditioning off above your head when you were cold. He tore the blanket out of its plastic covering and tucked it around you. He covered your eyes at the bloody parts in the in-flight movie. He never wanted you to be scared. He hated when you were scared. "Don't look!"
Don't look. Don't look.