Mary opened their eyes and the panic settled in. The dim sunlight filtering through the windows confirmed their alarm hadn’t gone off. They snatched at their phone. One hour before flight time. “Fuck!”
Mary scrambled out of bed and immediately hailed an Uber. They had ten minutes, Mary then tearing into the bathroom. A swig of mouthwash, a splash of water. They wriggled into their binder, tossed on a sweater, set tea to steep, and then Mary threw their long, greasy hair up into a bun.
The phone rang as Mary slipped into their boots. The Uber driver was lost. Completely on the other side of the three-block sprawl of apartments. “Stay there! I’ll find you!” Mary grabbed their bag and dashed out the door. But Aggie, the neighbor’s cat, rudely tripped them. The bitch howled, Mary’s own moans matching Aggie’s as their nectar-of-the-gods caffeine splattered across the sidewalk. Its remnants dribbled down into the drainage puddle their keys plopped into.
“Get run over, Aggie!” Mary shouted as they approached the festering water. They shoved their hand into its stagnant depths, grabbed hold of the key ring, locked the door, then flailed their hand to get the goop off as they ran.
Mary met the silver Nissan Sentra after a three-minute sprint. They produced a fifty-dollar bill and persuaded the driver to maneuver like Satan through the town’s streets. Mary got to the airport with half an hour to spare. It wasn’t a large airport, so they had a chance, especially since they’d printed out the tickets, only had a carry on and…NO!
Mary’s heart sank. The damn tickets were on their bedroom dresser. They spied the airline’s check-in counter, the line thirty people deep. They palmed their face. “This isn’t happening.” Mary’s pocket buzzed. They knew it was Mom, texting to make sure things were on track for today’s visit. Mary checked their phone. But, the text was from the airline instead.
The flight was delayed. Three. Fucking. Hours.
Forty minutes for check-in. Twenty minutes for security. Eight minutes for TSA to grope them. Leaving Mary stranded in the bucket seats of the airport lobby for an hour and fifty-two minutes. They sat opposite a coffee shop, watching patrons suck down the sweet nectar Aggie denied them.
Their head pounded. Their mouth salivated. Their hands itched to snatch a steaming cup from the barista’s hands and imbibe the glory. But Mary’s money was gone. So the aroma of roasting beans tortured Mary until they finally boarded the plane.
They begged the flight attendant for a cup of milky deliciousness and it was beautiful when it came. Mary almost cried at the delicate wisps of steam rising to their lips as they brought the cup toward their parted mouth. So warm in their hands.
But then the plane bucked once, twice, and then Mary’s coffee spilled down their sweater. Seriously? Zero breaks today, Mary thought as the MD-80 they and thirty five other passengers rode plummeted into a fertile corn field in Montana.