The Window Seat

© Dana Bartekoske Heinemann | Dreamstime Stock Photos

It’s better doing this woman to woman don’t you think?

She sat down next to me, her giant black Prada placed between us, a well-tailored Italian buffer meant to keep me out, or perhaps to keep her in.  Her voice stood out against the low buzz of the fluorescent overhead lighting.  It was offset by a faceless voice announcing over the intercom the late arrival of the plane.  It would only be a short delay, the voice said, but I was focused in anxiety on the manicured toes and the cashmere cardigan next to me.  I knew it was her, recognized her from the picture in his wallet, but couldn’t believe that she was sitting next to me in the uncomfortable, black upholstered chair in terminal seven.  I scanned the area in a panic, looking for any sign of him but I only saw the other mid-morning, mid-week, high volume travelers moving to or from their final destination without a single glance in either direction.

On any other Tuesday, I was one of them – a Mileage Plus Red Carpet Club Member with my company’s purchase card, living out of my suitcase for yet another week, connecting with others before catching my connecting flight.  He had left a note on the nightstand that morning telling me he had an early meeting.  He hadn’t brought that up when he ripped the buttons off of my favorite Gucci blouse four hours earlier.  I’m an optimist, so I ignored it and went on pretending everything was okay, but nothing is ever okay when the routine changes.

I know who you are, she said.  I looked away avoiding eye contact the way people often do when they pass a bum begging for money on the street.  I could tell from her posture that she was staring straight ahead with nothing interesting to look at but the whitewashed terminal wall in front of us.  I started tapping my foot, because that’s what I do when I’m nervous and I’m never nervous so the sight of my foot moving managed to startle me even more.  My fingers craved a Maker’s Mark and club soda to keep them from fidgeting with the cuff on my blazer.

You’re not hard to track, you know, you’re pretty predictable.  She held the disdain between her tongue and the roof of her mouth, swallowing the words with a poorly concealed smirk spreading across her lips.  I happen to think that consistency and predictability are two very different things, I said.  She looked me up and down and laughed before saying, you’re stupider than I imagined but I can see why he fucks you.  Her voice fluttered on those last words but she continued to stare straight ahead and twirl the giant diamond fastened to her left ring finger.  She probably thought I envied her for it, but I didn’t.  Life was more exciting when it didn’t come with a signed list of demands and the expectation of fidelity, though I’ll admit I’d grown attached to him over the past two years.  I’d even go so far as to say I thought I was falling in love with him.

You bought a $400 ticket to DC to tell me I’m predictable, I asked.  She placed a heavy hand on my knee to stop my leg from bouncing up and down.  I bought a $400 ticket to DC, she said, to tell you you’re not welcome here anymore.  The voice with no face announced that first class was now boarding.

She stood up, picked up her bag and brushed the wrinkles from her pencil skirt. She reached out and delicately grazed my elbow with two fingers, barely touching me.  I could have sworn I saw her wrinkle her nose in what looked like utter disgust.

Come now, she said, that’s us.

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