Myrah stood outside the exit gate at William P. Hobby airport waiting for Clara to come out. She’d agreed to pick the woman up when her flight arrived and take her home. Clara had protested the offer saying that she was just a little beaten up and that she was well able to drive herself but Myrah had insisted. She’d wanted to ask about Dan.
Her husband had told her the night before about the drastic way that the man had altered his appearance. He’d said that Dan had two perfect looking ears and the face of a teenager. It was all so intriguing that Myrah just had to know more.
People moved back and forth carrying small bags of luggage. The airport security busily screened for America’s Enemies while wearing face masks and rubber gloves. The dangerous flu that had terrorized the nation all winter long had only recently begun to fade. The news was warning that it could come back at any time.
Jill eased up beside her carrying two cups of coffee. "These were hard to get." She said handing one to Myrah.
"Where’d you have to go?"
The girl pointed down the line past the ticket counters and baggage claims. "There’s a small kiosk over there about ten gates away."
Myrah shook her head. "Terrorist."
They sipped their drinks and watched as families greeted relatives in front of them. Business men stripped themselves of their shoes and belts at the x-ray machine. A group of pilots walked past looking puffed out and self-important. In the corner a janitor swept up torn sheets of paper.
Jill had cried all night long and then woken up with a smile on her face. Myrah herself was still suffering from a splitting headache. It had been all that wine that she’d shared with the girl while discussing her decision to leave Thom.
They’d talked and drank like teenagers at a slumber-party. They stayed up until the early hours of morning bawling into one another shoulders and discussing the blackness and despair of a broken relationship. Today, at least from Jill’s perspective, everything seemed afresh and new again.
They’d driven for almost an hour to reach the airport and the girl hadn’t even mentioned Thom or his father. They’d gotten stopped twice for traffic. They’d bought breakfast at a fast food place name Stackers. They’d even discussed trying out one of the Houston malls if Clara was feeling up to it.
Never did Jill say anything about the matter between her husband and her. It seemed that she’d been given some kind of new resiliency overnight. She was even talking about seeing if she could get an appointment at Hellcatz this weekend. She said that she was ready to try out a new style.
Bags turned lazily on a carousel beside them. The public address system made some kind of announcement that no one could understand. A girl about four years old declared that she was ready to fly and be a big girl.
"Do you really think that Jack’s right about Dan?" Jill asked.
"If anything Jack tends to understate." Myrah quipped. "He probably looks about 14 rather than 16."
"That’s got to be weird."
"Like having sex with a child." The builder’s wife agreed.
"They were a strange couple before." Jill nodded.
In a way Myrah had always been jealous of her best friend and high powered neighbor Clara. The woman seemed to have all the answers. She worked in an important industry doing work that affected people in mysterious ways.
It had been her who had designed the box with the heart on it for Systems Technical. She was responsible for the picture of the lamb on all Media Records products. She’d put the butterfly on the sign for Shady Acres. Even Myrah had to admit that it had really tied the whole thing together. Clara knew how to lure people in with an image.
Dan may have been a dud financially but there was no doubting that he was a damned fine man to look at. True, they were a strangely paired couple but the builder’s wife couldn’t really fault the woman for wanting a little bit of eye candy on her arm. Men did it! Why shouldn’t Clara who wielded more power over the thoughts and minds of consumers than most have the same?
All one had to do was look around their cul-de-sac to find abundant examples of weird looking lovers. Thom hadn’t been at all worthy of a woman of Jill’s caliber. Kinkaid brought home one buxom floozy after another. Jack wasn’t terrible to look at but still Myrah was pretty sure that even now she could get younger and better looking men to sleep with her if she wanted to. The only couple that fit together was Gary and Tara Biggs. Both of them were equally dumpy and bland.
What would it be like to have a husband who’d suddenly found the fountain of youth? Would it be strange to look into the face of a kid as he lay on top of you or would it take you back to that breathless and exciting time in high school when you lost your virginity? Would it give you the courage to look at things and change them? Could you suddenly got back in time, get your diploma, go to college and live your life the way that you always should have before becoming stuck in a routine? Could you find your moment through the experience?
There was a rush of people as a large flight arrived and emptied its cabin. Men, women and children emerged through the doors. They were all wearing coats. They blinked in dazed confusion as they took in their new surroundings. Clara was the last of them.
"Oh my God!’ Myrah said rushing to the woman and extending her arms. They hugged.
Her neighbor gave her a pat on the back. "I’m fine."
"You look like hell."
Jill drank her coffee and smiled. "How do you feel?" She asked.
"Like hell." Clara joked.
They all laughed as the travelers swirled around them.
The woman did look like hell. She had a bloody bandage wrapped lengthwise around her head. Her jaw, eyes and nose were swollen to the point that she was almost unrecognizable. There was a pronounced limp when she walked and she made a face every time that she breathed in or out.
She told Myrah and Jill that she was on some pretty nice pain medication. She mentioned she’d gotten a lot of wild ideas from whatever it was. She smiled when she recalled one of the doctors that had treated her. She said that everyone in Washington DC was either a spy or a politician. She winked drunkenly.
They picked up her bag from the return and headed out to Myrah’s Saab with Jill carrying it. The day was warm and cloudless. With a long groan, Clara took her coat off and put it next to her suitcase in the trunk. "Let’s go to the mall." She said. "I’m too pissed off to go home and deal with Dan."
Jill took the woman’s keys and drove behind them. Two identical Saab’s spinning down the highway towards the mall. It was obvious to Myrah that this had been a good decision. Clara was far to messed up to drive anywhere.
Driving, parking, shopping… some meteors can be seen in the daylight if the conditions are right.