That was the most productive fight about nothing we’ve ever had.
That’s all that keeps running through my mind as I stare at the TV and watch the flames burn amidst pieces of debris.
Two Hours Until Departure
“Why do you always want to sleep at my place? Your bed is way comfier,” I tell her as I lay back on her doubled-up pillows.
She throws another lace bra on her duffel. “It’s too soft. Tossing and turning all night never made me look more rested,” She says while checking her watch. “I’ve got some time before I need to be at the airport. Want some food?”
“Yes. And all of your leftovers. I already miss your cooking.”
That makes her laugh. “Andrew,” she kisses me quickly, “I’ll be back before you know it.”
As I follow her into the kitchen, I click on the TV.
“No way,” she starts. “No TV. C’mon.”
“I like it. Multi-task: eat, learn…”
“And spend time with your girlfriend before she leaves?” She just raises her eyebrow at me.
“I’ll turn it off when you put the plates down,” I concede.
The skillet is sizzling behind me as I follow a reporter into an abandoned building. “How’s work going?” She asks.
“Oh, good, y’know.” They’re looking for the slumlord that’s been running this place for years. Ask some tough questions. Hit him with a camera.
“Written anything interesting recently?”
“Some…stuff about law.” The slumlord isn’t in the basement; obviously. They go to check the upstairs bedrooms. At first, all seems lost, but then— aha! A cracked door gives the game away and the camera woman starts bombarding the surly -looking gentleman with questions. At first, he’s wonderfully in denial– what on earth could she be talking about? But, as the woman continues and mentions the threat of prosecution, he loses it. “How dare you! Get out. GET OUT. I could call the cops on your [bleep].”
“Here,” Naomi says, letting the plate drop in front of me. Her voice tugs me away from the television to the plate of bacon and eggs in front of me. The eggs jiggle in silent protest. “Can you shut that fucking thing off now?”
Jeez, what did I do?
I gingerly click the TV off and watch her poke her eggs with toast. “What’s with you suddenly?”
“Need to finish packing.”
She kept her eyes on her plate. She wasn’t taking much time to swallow, or chew, for that matter. “I thought you had everything.”
A small silence builds. “Are you alright? Did I do something?”
She kept her eyes on her eggs, “Ah, yes, everything is about you, how could I forget?”
I pointed at the TV. “It’s off, isn’t it?”
“Whatever.” Her eyebrows drew together a moment after. She sighed, “Andrew, you don’t listen.”
My turn to look confused. “What? I listen.”
“What did I say about the TV?”
“Seriously, we’re still talking about this?”
She raises her eyebrows.
Deep breath, “No TV at the table. Alright, duly noted. It’ll never happen again.” God.
Her eyebrows return to their normal position, but her lips tighten until they are thin as paper bills. She snags the last bite of egg on her plate only to rush away from the table. She nearly stomps back into the bedroom. I hear the ‘whoosh’ of clothing on the bed. She’s still mad. Unbelievable. I take a piece of bacon before I place my plate in the sink. For good measure, I wash it and sit it on the drying rack.
I creep my way into the bedroom. Maybe the few minutes alone helped her cool off. She crumples up a black jacket and presses it down. A pair of jeans follows. “I thought you were only going away for a few days. There’s enough in there for two weeks,” I say.
She just glares. “Keep going, put your foot farther in your mouth.” Still mad.
“Look, I’m gonna go. Walk me out?”
She just walks out towards the door.
Just before I leave, I turn back, “Call me when you land, alright?”
That makes her slow down– as if she’s just realizing this will be the first separation we’ll be going through. I just keep standing there, letting her process. She kisses me quickly without saying anything and shuts the door behind me.
One Hour Past Departure Time
I leave the news on in the background while I work. It makes all the smaller sounds disappear. The cursor of my blank word document stares back at me. Before I get a clear thought, I keep hearing the snippets of news.
But it’s not distracting me. I can multitask. The cursor blinks defiantly in response.
I flip my cellphone around in my hands. She’s probably up in the air. I’ll just leave her a quick voicemail– a “I know I screwed up” message.
Three rings and she answers. “Naomi?”
“Why did you pick up?”
“Because you called…”
“No, uhm– aren’t you in the air?”
I hear her sigh. “I missed my flight…”
“I couldn’t find my key.”
I wait for more. Just silence. “Yo…your key?” I repeat.
“I had to tear the kitchen apart, living room too. No dice.”
“You never made your flight?”
“I threw them in my with my jeans. I was too mad at a certain someone to notice they were there.”
The apology voicemail is now starting to feel incredibly insufficient. “Can you get a refund?”
“Corporate gets billed no matter what. I’ll come up with something. I’ve already booked my flight for a later time. Next one they had was for six tomorrow. So, I figure–”
“What airline was it?” Silence. She was taking too long to process, “What airline were you supposed to be flying with?”
“Delta. To Sacramento.”
I can’t move. The news has made a smash cut– as they tend to do when breaking news hit. Flames lick at the edges of the screen.
“Are you watching the news right now?”
“Bed seems more alluring.”
“Turn it on. Now.”
“You know how I feel about TVs right now.”
“Like I care.”
“Jeez, alright. Have you considered going to bed early?” She’s quiet as she slaps her feet against the linoleum to the living room.
I hear her take a breath and the slight echo of the same terrifying news playing on her end of the phone.
Technical Malfunction causes Delta 624 to crash. Many injured, several dead.