Two days of back-to-back meetings were finally over. AJ and Julia decided to head to the airport early, just in time to avoid the notorious traffic jam.
"Can we sit together?" He asked the lady at the check-in counter. Julia was surprised, and was actually a little anxious. She was tired and all she wanted on the flight back was some peaceful sleep. "Certainly, your gate is B1A, Mr. P".
"Do you want to walk around, or go straight to the lounge?" He asked as they got through the immigration checkpoints. "Hmm, let's go to the lounge?" She was tired and desperately wanted to change out of her heels. "Actually...I feel like doing some shopping, need to get something for my son."
They came to a baby wear store. Julia looked around, there were mostly expensive cute little outfits. She eventually picked out a onesie for her newborn nephew. "Aww that looks cute, I'll have the same one." He asked for a larger size as he smiled to the store clerk. "What?" She was amused. Often finding it hard to make a decision, she was normally the follower when it comes to shopping. "Now they'll have to meet!" He quipped.
The flight was not full. They got the exit row. "Now I understand why you asked for extra leg room." She gestured as they sat down. His legs were a foot longer than hers.
She flipped through the inflight magazine as the plane took off. He tried to get some sleep but woke up to play a game on his phone. "What are you playing?" Julia asked as she casually leaned into AJ's side to take a peep at his phone. Their shoulders were touching, but he didn't budge. "San Juan, it's a strategy card game." He leaned over and showed her his phone. "Ah I see, interesting." She smiled. Card / strategy / mobile games were not her thing.
AJ skipped dinner but was interested in the dessert. "What's that?" He pointed to his dessert dish as Julia cleaned hers up. "I don't know, but it's good." She said casually as she licked the spoon clean. He scraped the surface of the mousse tentatively. "You gotta mix it up, it's got chocolate at the bottom." "Ah, surprise," He smiled, as he stirred up the mousse with the tiny dessert spoon. A few seconds later, the whole thing was gone. "Where did it go?" She was amused. He eats fast and always had to wait for her to finish. "Huh? Where did it go?!" His eyes widened as he acted surprised too. "Five kids in the family, remember? You gotta be fast if you want to have your share." She laughed.
A few rows up front, a middle age man was watching an action movie. "What's your favorite type of movie?" He stared straight ahead gave it some thought as though it was some serious question. "Action? Sci-Fi? Thriller? Most guys like those." "Hmm, drama. I prefer realistic movies." He looked at her, his voice now extra low and smooth, as the cabin was dark and most of the passengers were resting. She has never met a guy who likes the drama genre, just as she does.
Two hours melted away as they swapped stories. Having done ten years of school before holding a corporate job, she often felt like an outsider among coworkers. AJ did eight, four in physics and four in some bio-related major. It's been a while since she's talked about science to anybody. As much as she got so sick of it that she called it quits a few years ago, it was still interesting to be able to talk about geeky stuff occasionally. Surprisingly, AJ spent some time at her grad school back in the days when she was still there. They were amused at the coincidence.
Julia was pleasantly surprised by his openness and honesty. Despite coming from a well-off family and holding a high corporate position, he had no problems sharing his personal thoughts and feelings. She felt that he trusted her, at least enough to tell her about his goals and dreams. She liked his endearing goofiness and the way he always looked into her eyes while he talked to her. All of a sudden she realized she has become quite fond of this tall, funny, brown-eyed boy whom she thought was cold and aloof just six weeks ago. She stole a few glances at him and smiled as she looked ahead. There is no what ifs in real life, but she couldn't help but thought about what could have been if she had met this exchange student on campus seven years ago.
The plane touched down smoothly on the tarmac.