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Sweet Escape

So the day finally came. One moment he was holding onto Ariel as she softly slept in his firm arms…one moment he was walking through the airport with luggage in one hand and a gripped fist in the other. Time seemed to have just wasted away when he left Ariel’s apartment. Life seemed to drag without her but it went away too quick when he was with her. Why did the damn trip have to come at the same day as the talent show? It wouldn’t have been the first of many things he had missed out on, but, this time it was so much more different.

Seemingly enough, the flights were all on schedule and none were to be postponed. Just his luck. As passengers boarded the plane during the late afternoon, Joe stood in front of the terminal itinerary not really focusing on what was on the board but what he had said to Ariel just a mere 12 hours ago.

He had woken up again at night, around 4:00 am. Throughout the night, sleeping had been a problem for him because he kept checking to make sure Ariel was still safely sleeping in his arms. Even though he could feel her presence, it wasn’t enough. He had to make sure. And every time his tired eyes would open, he was able to catch a glimpse of her delicate face. She didn’t budge at all throughout the night; only the occasional gentle nudge here and there to get more comfortable in his arms as she dug her face in his warm crevices. Taking this to his advantage he began to speak to her face to face about his darkest secrets. She wouldn’t be able to hear it, but that’s what made his confessions much safer.

Lifting a single finger to trace the frame of her delicate face, Joe remembered every wrinkle, flaw and exquisite feature of hers. “Why are you so beautiful?” he’d asked her but not expecting a response.

Soaking in every second he could was easy because he kept smiling. At every moment where she’d reposition herself, she’d just come closer and closer to him. With every breath he took of her, he could sense the calmness in her body; the exact same relaxed state he was in from being completed in the most unusual way.

“Can you hear me?” he silently whispered in her ear. There were no words, but just a gentle breath. “Can I tell you a secret? Promise that you won’t run away.” Gracefully tucking in the loose strand of hair behind her ear, he looked her straight in her closed shut eyes and said, “I love you.”

No reply. Her deep exhale was enough for him.

“I really love you,” he continued to murmur softly. “I was stupid to have ever let you go. I never should have left you at that damn parking lot. I never should have let you out of my sight.”

She silently stirred a bit and his heart sudden pulsed faster at the thought that she might have heard him.

“Ariel?” he asked. “Can you hear me?”

“Joe?” he heard her quietly ask. “Are you still here?”

With sleep still overpowering her consciousness, Ariel peered into Joe’s face and slowly closed her eyes shut. A soft smile escaped her lips and she placed her head right underneath his chin.

“Good,” she silently replied to her own question. “You’re not sleepy?”

“Not at the moment,” he whispered back.

“What time is it?” she slurred.

“4 am. I’ll sleep soon,” he gently left a smile next to her. “Don’t worry about me.”

“mmm…what did you say earlier? Something about a parking…lot,” she started to say until she drifted back to sleep. Luckily.

Thank god she trailed off. That was close, but right now it didn’t seem to matter. As if she couldn’t be any more perfect, she also had perfect timing too. Sure it was uncomfortable to be stuck in the same numbing position on a lifeless couch but not at this moment.

That was 12 hours ago. It was 4:00 pm now, and his flight is still scheduled as planned. Not a single friend could be found; even Calvin had left earlier to catch the show and Joe was stuck here to fly some godforsaken plane off somewhere even further away from were he wanted to be. Just a couple more minutes till the flight. Hmm…Jiro’s parents should be arriving anytime soon as well.

“I wonder where they are…” he said to himself. “Wonder if I could catch ‘em before I go.”

What a pity…he couldn’t even be there for the great unveiling. Joe hadn’t even really talked to Jiro about it either; just that one time before Jiro had left for his flight and it wasn’t such a big deal…until now. Wouldn’t things become more complicated if he wasn’t there to defend himself? How would she react? Would she run away…again?

“Passengers, last call for the 4:15 flight to London…” the sudden blare of the sound system rang aloud.

“That’s my stop,” he sighed.

“Joe!” a sudden voice called from behind.

Turning around to find the voice, Joe immediately widened his eyes. A familiar face was approaching him but that didn’t exactly shock him. It was Jiro and he had his pilot attire and luggage already at hand. Where was he going at a time like this?

“Jiro?” Joe hesitantly asked with a deep frown. “Why are you dressed like that? You have a flight to catch?”

“Something like that,” Jiro smiled back, dropping his luggage on the floor. “So you’re really heading over to London eh?”

“Something like that,” Joe repeated. “But I thought your parents were coming tonight. Where are you heading off to?”

Jiro sighed, giving an exhausted look. “I decided that there was something more important to take care of first.”

“What’s more important than finally being able to reunite with your sister?” Joe asked with a snort.

Jiro looked at him with a dead serious expression and said, “Making sure everyone important is there with me. Sorry man. I didn’t know that you were the one taking up this flight until last minute.” Jiro laughed a bit and shook his head at Joe. “I would have said something earlier if I had known. C’mon, you don’t belong here. You belong at the talent show with Ariel and Kris.”

“Jiro,” Joe sighed deeply. “Your family has been waiting for this moment. Ariel has been waiting for this moment.”

“Ah about that,” Jiro winced at Joe’s sincerity. “Not EVERYBODY was waiting for this moment. Let me give you some advice: you should never surprise your girlfriend with a meeting with your parents without at least a month’s worth of notice. It turns out Ella’s not ready to meet mom and dad. Yesterday, I let it slip that my parents were coming and she freaked out! She demanded that I reschedule. So…I have a little free time on my hands to catch that small trip to London.”

Joe gave a sudden cry of disbelief. Was this all true? Was this glimmer of hope and chance finally within reach?

“Jiro” Joe smiled widely, anticipating Jiro’s answer. “Please tell me you’re going to say what I think you’re going to say.”

Jiro rolled his eyes at his friend’s slow reaction. “Yahtzee? Geez, don’t make this more cheesy than it already is. GO!”

Joe patted him on the back stiffly. “I owe you one.”

“Don’t mention it,” Jiro smiled back. “Besides, it wouldn’t be right without you there with us to tell her in the first place. Remember, this is my generosity to you. Don’t screw it up by getting there late. Oh and another thing, I am her brother so I’ll only say this once; don’t skimp on the loving.”

“Ugh,” Joe cringed at the thought of such a gross aphorism coming from someone so close to Ariel.

“Like I said…only once,” Jiro manfully proclaimed. “No go already!”

He didn’t need to be told twice. In fact, Joe had already torn off his tie away from his neck and was preparing to rip through the terminal gates. The only thing stopping him was a shout from Jiro.

“HEY!” he yelled. Joe turned around to listen close. “You’ve been waiting for this moment too; no one is in the way this time except yourself. So take it all in, bro.”

And just like that, the terminal doors swing open and a dark shadow of a man escaped into the light with all the weight on his shoulders leaving his body with the heavy push of the wind against his flesh.

 

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