Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write CONTEMPORARY FICTION (10/30/14)
- TITLE: Terminal 7
By Tracy Nunes
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Buzzing in her pocket alerted Debra to a text from her daughter.
MOM, RU STILL @ JFK?
YES! FEW MORE HRS, POSS TMRROW. HOTELS BOOKED. *SIGH*
O NO! KEEP US POSTED! PRAYING 4 U. LUV U!
ME 2 U! CAN’T WAIT 2 C U!
Debra returned to her newspaper. No good news anywhere in that thing. Terrorists, Ebola, school shootings. Not helpful in her current situation.
“Ma’am. Is this seat taken?” A young man stood in front of her.
Debra shook her head, No, and smiled, a deep sigh escaping her lips. Normally hospitable, after twelve hours of flying and six in the airport, she wasn’t in the mood to socialize. A spasm in her lower back and a looming migraine were enough to manage.
He sat down, situated himself and turned to her with a disarming, vaguely familiar smile.
“Name’s Matt.” He extended his hand. She shook it, noticing his warm palm.
“Debra. Nice to meet you, Matt.”
“I just came in. Been here long?”
“Unfortunately, yes. I’m going to my daughter’s house up state for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, I’ll make it. You?”
Matt smiled again, “I’m coming home to Virginia from the mission field, Ma’am.” He explained that he’d lost his parents in an auto accident while he was pre-med. Months of depression led to a decision to do something meaningful to honor his parent’s memory. He found that he loved mission work.
That spiked her interest; what a nice young man. Pleased to be sitting next to someone who’d done something so selfless, she asked, “Where at?”
“I was in the Philippines for several months.” He paused to cough. “After school I went there to train to be a field medic.” Matt stopped talking, and seem a little confused. Shaking his head to regain his concentration, he continued, “I learned how to do medical care out of the box. It was a crazy way to train. Nothing like we do in the states, but very rewarding.”
He rubbed his temple before he continued. “Then, I’ve been in Liberia since July. Coming home to spend the holidays with my brother and his family before I head back.”
The room started to spin for them both. For Debra, the word Liberia jolted her and echoed as if it had been shouted into a canyon. For Matt, a wave of dizziness flooded him, and he held his stomach as if nauseous.
“Liberia, did you say?” Debra struggled to keep the uneasiness out of her voice while figuring how she could politely step away to wash her hands. She noticed a couple of heads turn their way.
Matt wasn’t answering. He slouched over, putting his head down.
Trying to keep her composure, “Are you okay, Matt?”
Matt wasn’t okay. He began to shake uncontrollably and dropped his jacket, whispering, “Get help.”
Debra rushed to the ticket desk searching for an agent. Finding no one, she raced to the next gate.
“Please, come quickly! A young man is very sick at Gate 43!”
Returning to the gate with the ticket agent, they found that a wide swath of people had left the area around Matt. Like a wave of humanity, the terminal was emptying swiftly. People with luggage, strollers and kids raced to get away from him, palpable fear on their faces. Some shouted, “Ebola!”
Through the haze of her migraine Debra watched in disbelief. The urge to run overwhelmed her and she turned to make her escape, until she saw the look of fear in Matt’s eyes. She couldn’t look away.
He looks like Justin. That’s why he seemed so familiar.
Thoughts of her son invaded; what she’d been told of his last moments in Iraq reverberated in her head. He’d died slowly and alone after being taken hostage, shot and left in the desert.
In slow motion, she reached for the cell phone in her pocket. She tapped out the words through tears.
LOOKS LIKE WON’T MAKE IT IN TIME. DON’T WORRY. PRAY. CALL U ASAP. LOVE U!
Kneeling down, Debra grasped Matt’s hand as the attendant called airport security.
“I’m here with you, Matt. You’re not alone.”
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