“What do you mean the flight is canceled!?” I roared. I slapped down my ticket on the front desk with such force that the counter shook.
The woman behind the counter jumped. “Please, sir,” she begged, “please lower your voice.”
“I will not!” I shouted, pounding my fist against the hard counter top. Voices around us stopped and the eyes of those surrounding us bore into the back of my head. I couldn’t feel my fist as it hit the smooth plastic, I couldn’t feel the pain, I could only feel the anger that had flooded my entire body when I learned I wouldn’t be in New York by morning. “I never get mad,” I hissed at the woman, “and when I do-”
“Taylor!” Jim shouted over me, pulling my arm off the counter.
“I want another flight,” I demanded, shaking him off of me.
“Taylor, come on,” Jim urged, his voice softer now. He was trying once again to pull me away from the terrified woman. “It’s not her fault the plane can’t take off.”
“Fine,” I gave in. I picked my suitcase up off the floor and threw my bag over my shoulder. “I have to call my wife and tell her that I won’t be home for Christmas.” I stomped angrily off of the front of the long line of frustrated passengers and threw my suitcase on an empty chair, plopping myself down in the cold plastic chair next to it. I leaned over my lap and stuck my head between my knees, trying to calm down the dizziness in my head. I felt sick.
A few minutes passed before I got up the nerve to speak to Jim. I felt horrible about the events that had just occurred. “I lost my temper,” I spoke up, looking at the ground, unable to sit up straight. “I know it’s not her fault, you don’t have to remind me.”
“We’ll get a flight tomorrow morning,” Jim said. “The runway at Newark will be cleared by then.”
“And what if it’s not?” I asked, straightening up quickly. “Whoa,” I said as a wave of nausea took over. I closed my eyes and rested my head on my palm.
“Take it easy,” Jim warned. I felt him hovering above me. “We’ll get home within the next three days, I promise.” My old friend paused. “Just take it easy.”
“You don’t have a wife and children to get back to,” I snapped. I swallowed hard. “I’m sorry man,” I said quickly, shaking my head despite the throbbing that was going on inside. “I didn’t think before I spoke. I didn’t mean it, Jim. Please-”
“I know, Taylor,” Jim said softly. He was hurt but was trying to hide it. I really hadn’t meant to say that. Jim Hawks had gone through a terrible divorce two years prior. His wife stripped him of everything, including a twelve year old kid. The custody battle had torn Jim to threads and to make matters worse, his ex-wife moved herself and Jim’s daughter out to Washington so that Jim could never see her, not even on Christmas. Jim stayed in NY working with New Generation records, turning down offers to relocated in Los Angeles. He felt that California was too close to Washington and him being there would confuse his child more. He hated his ex-wife for going cross country and there wasn’t a day where he wouldn’t think about his daughter, but being cross country would lessen the blow. At least that is what he told me.
“Do you want me to call Clare for you?” Jim asked anxiously.
“Thanks,” I responded. Jim left me alone with my thoughts. I took a few deep breaths to calm down and was able to sit up straight again. I started turning the gold band on my finger around and around in circles, something I noticed that I did when I was nervous. “What happened?” I asked my colleague when he returned from the pay phone. I stopped playing with my wedding ring.
Jim shook his head, “she wasn’t home.”
“What?” I looked at my watch. “It’s nine in New York, where could she be?”
Jim settled down in the chair next to me and once again shook his head. “Maybe she’s at her parents’ house again.”
“Taylor, don’t worry,” Jim reassured me. “The storm on the east coast happened this morning. Your wife is smart enough to stay at home and not travel on the roads. I’m sure she’s fine.”
“Maybe the storm knocked out the phone lines,” I suggested.
“It might have.”
I jumped up from my chair and started to panic. “What if the power went out?” I exclaimed. “What if they have no heat? What if she went into labor and there was no way for her to get to the hospital and she’s lying in bed trying to use a dead phone line and freezing to death while lying in her own pool of-”
“Taylor get a hold of yourself man!” Jim exclaimed, jumping up and shaking my shoulders. “You have to calm down. Breathe.”
I took a deep breath and sighed. “You’re right,” I said, “I need to just sit down and realize that Clare’s all right. Zoë’s all right. Anya’s all right. They’re probably at my in-laws, just like you said.” I sat back down on the hard plastic. “Everyone is all right.”
“Everything is fine,” Jim assured me.
My eyes darted around the airport waiting area. There were hundreds of people with bags sitting around, standing around, some looking anxious and others looking excited. The excited ones must be the ones who can actually get on a plane. All flights to the east coast had been canceled due to yet another storm. When Jim and I flew to California not less than four days prior we had almost run into trouble because of the previous east coast blizzard. We managed somehow to get across the country and now we were still there, with no flights to Newark or even Philadelphia.
“Now what?” I asked my friend. “Now what do we do? Wait here in this place?”
“We’ve done it before,” Jim reminded me. “We’ve done it lots of times.”
“I know that,” I informed him. “But never with three days left until Christmas day.”
I glanced up at the monitor above my head.
Flight 810 to Newark, New Jersey canceled.
Flight 920 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania canceled.
Flight 1090 to Stewart airport, New York canceled.
Flight 6075 to O’Hare, Chicago now boarding.
“Holy,” I gasped, leaning on the edge of my seat. My eyes grew wide as I read the words once again, “Now boarding”. I couldn’t believe my luck. A flight to O’Hare was actually taking off. We had no time to lose. “Jim,” I said, my voice low. I pointed up at the monitor. “We are getting on that plane.”