Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Luggage (08/15/05)
TITLE: Lost Luggage (i)
By Hope Horner
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The airline employee whose name tag said ‘Jennifer’ smiled weakly as she delivered the bad news, but she never looked up from her computer monitor.
“Oh yes, here we go--your luggage is in Denver.” She practically sang the word “Denver”, but her perky spirit could not change the fact that I was in Pennsylvania.
“OK, it should arrive here in Philadelphia tomorrow and we can deliver it to you as soon as we receive it. In the meantime, this should keep you going until we can deliver your luggage.” She handed me a small, black, vinyl bag. As I unzipped it, I hoped there would be a hotel voucher or maybe a free airline ticket inside—some kind of consolation prize. Instead, I found what appeared to be Tinkerbelle’s beauty kit: lotion, body wash, shampoo—all in a convenient one squirt supply. Oh, and a small, black comb that if it didn’t break when I picked it up, could possibly brush three strands of my hair at a time. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I signed some forms, grabbed the bag, and trudged back into the main terminal of the airport.
I dragged my carry-on across the hard, colorless, airport floor and tried to hold back my tears. I was thousands of miles from home and my luggage was probably sitting on the hot Denver tarmac being ransacked by union employees who would soon find my chocolate souvenirs and devour them. I found the first open chair and slumped into it. I needed to pick up my rental car, but I was exhausted, disoriented, and worst of all, hungry. I sat up and rifled through my carry-on for any sign of sustenance. Lucky me; all I found was a package of stale airline peanuts.
As I tore them open, a man stepped up to a payphone next to where I was sitting and began to plunk quarters noisily into the slot. He dialed slowly and then leaned against the side of the phone and ran his fingers through his salty gray hair.
“Joan--you there? Oh well, it looks like you’re not home. I’m at the Philadelphia airport. I really didn’t want to leave a message about this, but uh…” His voice trailed off as shifted his position and turned toward me. I pretended to fiddle with my carry-on.
“Well, anyway, I uh, just wanted to tell you that I had an amazing time in Denver this past weekend. I am so glad that Bill invited me to the conference. I can’t wait to tell you about my whole experience. Gosh Joan, I know you are going to be so happy, because I uh…I found God. I really did. You know I have been carrying around so much baggage for so long and it felt really good to finally let it all go. You know I really didn’t want to go to this thing, but I know you and the kids were praying for me and I could really feel it. You know how I never cry? Well, you’re not going to believe this, but I just couldn’t stop myself the other night—I asked God to take over my life and I just felt so free! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I wanted to wait until I got home to tell you, but I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. I feel like my life…our life…is going to be different from now on—without all of that ‘stuff’ weighing me down. Anyway Joan, I love you and I will see you tonight when I get back.”
He hung up the phone slowly and took a deep breath. He glanced up and his sparkling blue eyes locked with mine. It was too late for me to look away, but he didn’t seem to mind that he had caught me eavesdropping. He broke into a smile that was as warm and joyful as the light dancing from his eyes. At that moment, a ray of sunlight burst into my dismal day and I couldn’t help but smile back.
It looks like I wasn’t the only one who lost my luggage in Denver.
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