An Airport Conversation

In my hands was a warm paper cup. I breathed in the smell of steaming coffee. I’d been sitting in this airport lobby for about three hours. So far, there have been Three Points of Interest:

1. A beautiful white dog, with all its hair cut short but for a well-manicured mane ‘round its head. Attendants had to ask the owner to prevent it from licking strangers’ legs.

2. A very remarkable red-and-white plaid dress, with a small Christian woman inside of it who smelled like anxiety, and hope, and dogma.

3. A cup of room-temperature coffee that was left behind in the chair to my left. I took a sip of it when I thought nobody was looking, and even though it was gross and old, it was also enlivening and nostalgic, so I bought a cup of my own.

The hot, brackish liquid kickstarted my thinker, as it usually does, and I got to thinking. I thought about where I’m going (home), and I thought about spending more money (to buy airport pizza), and I thought about where I was coming from (the desert). My eyes came to rest on the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the huge airport highways beyond. “It’s amazing,” I said to myself, “how many miles of earth we turn into stretches of blacktop so these huge, aerial dinosaurs can have their day. I wonder—if we’d never discovered dinosaurs, would we still have dreamt up these metallic monsters?”

“I saw you drink that lady’s coffee, dude.” I gave a start, looked up and around for the source of the voice. I saw no one near me; I looked down at my legs, where I felt a warm breathing. It was the white dog with the nice haircut, looking at me with a stern expression.

“Must be something in the coffee,” I muttered to myself, then said aloud, “I’ll share some of this fresh cup with you, if you keep quiet about what you saw.”

“Can’t make any promises,” the dog replied, eyeing my beverage and wagging his tail. I sighed, then put the coffee on the ground for him to reach.

“So, where’s your owner?” I asked, in an attempt at politeness. He stopped licking up my coffee long enough to nod toward his right: some thirty feet off was an old Asian lady, asleep, so small and shriveled as to be dwarfed by the chair she sat in.

After a moment, the dog gave my shins a lick in gratitude, and settled back on his haunches. “I wonder,” he said, “why people consent to be eaten by these airplanes? They always seem so out-of-sorts when they get spat out again.”

“Well, we do it so we can get to places we want to go,” I replied, bending down to retrieve the paper cup and take another sip.

The dog gave an annoyed huff in response. “But why? The food tastes exactly the same, anywhere you go.”

“Well, maybe for you it does,” I coolly replied. I turned to gaze deeply through the airport windows, trying to give the impression that I was done talking to a stranger.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.