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It was late at night and all that could be heard was the pitter patter of feet walking from one end to the next. Kris was at work; she had had a new revelation. Mr. Joe-no, what was it…Pilot Joe…wait a second. She changed it once more. Joey. That’s right, Joey. Joey was the man she had been waiting for, the answer to the unsolved mystery; superman, the same exact man who had left her mother to save the world. In all her efforts of searching and prying, there he was. Although he looked nothing like the man on TV, that was all irrelevant matter to Kris. Superman is her father and superman is Joey. Therefore mathematically calculated, Joey is her father. Easy and simple. Now the question was what does she do about it?
“Ok, ok…ok…” Kris repeated to herself as she gathered her thoughts together. “I have to do something. Joey is Superman and Superman is Joey. GAH! I can’t tell anyone about this. Not even mommy. If I do, I’d be breaking all the superhero codes. If anybody knows, the FBI will go after me and take all my hair so they can clone me and Superman to make a hundred of us to do their dirty work and CSI Miami will take my penny collection! Why do we have to have DNA anyways!!! Cloning is not cool! Oh but sheep are. I wonder why we have to count them if we want to go to sleep…FOCUS!!!”
Slamming her head down on her small wooden desk, Kris dug her nails into the cushioned seat she was sitting on. After all this time, her father was staring at her right in the face and said nothing. Was he really her father then? Shouldn’t a father recognize his daughter immediately? Granted, she knew he had never seen her and she has never seen him up close but he was superman! He wasn’t just some shmoe that she picked out randomly.
“Got to think, got to think,” she whispered to herself. “I have to get ready for the day of reckoning! I got to stop drinking coke in the middle of the night. I am too hyper. GAH!! Needs to do some jumping jacks. But I don’t wanna…”
Soon, night turned into day and at 7:00am Ariel walked into Kris’ room only to find her on the ground snoring with her butt up in the air.
“Ugh…Kris, how many times do I have to tell you; no more coke at night.”
Another day; another long shift in the terminal, Ariel thought. It was exhausting coming to and fro from work in a stuffy, clammy bus that offered no warmth. Today was a lucky day for Kris though because every weekend, she has the opportunity to go to work with her mother. As they enter the back of the terminal, Kris could already anticipate the fun she was going to have. It was like Christmas had come early for her every weekend for two reasons; the terminal was like a gigantic obstacle course and the baggage department was her ticket to every different department worthy of a little “fun” since it was in the heart of the terminal.
“Look Kris,” Ariel said, pointing at the score board. “How many destinies have we changed today?”
“So far??” she asked. “Uh we have changed a grand total of 3. 2 flights delayed, 1 cancelled.”
“Good, now as far as we are concerned, those better be the only ones that change for today. Am I clear Kris?” her mother warned.
Kris took in a big gulp, “Yes’m.”
Fun ruined. Making their way to the back, the first person that catches Kris’ eyes are those of Cai Yi Zhen’s; her favorite adult in the world besides her mother.
“Yi Yi!!” Kris called out. Running as fast as she could, Kris pumps her tiny legs to Yi Zhen and jumps up to give her a big hug. “How are you, Yi Yi?”
“Well, I’m fine Kris. I feel a lot better since you’re here,” she kindly said. “You ready for some scavenger hunting?”
“Scavenger hunt?” Kris asked excitedly. “YAY!”
“Nope, none of that today, Yi Zhen,” Ariel replied as she put on her safety suit. “We still have a lot of work to do, today. “
“You’re no fun, Ariel,” Yi Zhen quipped.
“Yeah, mommy, no fun.”
Ariel only rolled her eyes and stared down the two onlookers. What did they expect? This was a terminal, not some playhouse where they can roam free and do whatever they felt like.
“Can I at least go searching for some hidden treasures in the terminal when you and Yi Yi are gone?” she pouted, dragging her lower lip out of her mouth so far down, that it could touch the ground. “I promise I won’t destroy the airport this time.”
“No, Kris,” Ariel responded. “You have to stay in here while we’re gone. It’ll only be a couple minutes and you have toys in your backpack. Play with those.”
“Boo…” she said as she sat her butt down on the floor.
“C’mon, Yi Zhen we’re on call today for baggage duty,” Ariel called out. “We have only a few minutes to get to the dock,” Ariel called out.
Quietly and secretly, Yi Zhen gives Kris the keys to the baggage department so she would be able to explore.
“These are the spare keys,” she whispered to Kris. “I can trust you not to lose them, right? You better not disappoint me by not coming back ok?”
Giving her a wink, Kris takes her backpack and watches her mom and Yi Zhen walk out the back door and suddenly, she bolts to the terminal doors and unlocks herself to the entire airport. It was indeed a busy day; people were in a rush to get to their planes, restaurants were busy pushing out fast food and right in the middle stood a little girl with all the imagination in the world. Grabbing a shovel in her backpack, she begins her search for gold.
Her first stop was at the front gates. The workers were all busy trying to get as many passengers into the planes as fast as possible to watch Kris eagerly destroying their precious terminal by digging a hole, right smack dab in the middle. After a few stabs, she wasn’t able to even make a dent into the carpeted floors except the pile of ruined fabric that she covered with the dirt inside her backpack. She always remembered to carry dirt to cover her tracks. Always.
After a while of undiscovered treasure hunting, Kris decides to head back to the baggage department before Ariel could catch her but suddenly, Kris sees her mother walking towards the door.
“Noooo,” Kris whispered in her head. “This sucks.”
This meant trouble. If she wasn’t there by the time her mother arrived…all Hell would break loose. Meanwhile, Ariel and Yi Zhen were discussing about none other than Yi Zhen’s nonexistent love life with Calvin.
“You have to stop,” Ariel groaned out of pure boredom.
“I wish I could but every time he comes near me, I always clam up and stop talking. I can almost smell people coming at me from a mile away because I can feel him nearing me and I just melt like an ice cream sundae on a hot summer day.”
“No offense, Yi Zhen, but if you don’t go and ask him out by the end of today, I’ll have to do it for you,” she bluntly threatened.
“You wouldn’t dare!” Yi Zhen warned. “After everything I have done for you…”
In the middle of their conversation, Kris had sneakily walked closer and closer to the door, trying her best to avoid any eye contact. She was in a mission impossible. She can already hear the theme song playing in her head. Tom Cruise should be lowering himself down in front of her soon…
“What have you done for me?” Ariel asked a bit curious.
“A lot more, than you think, girl!” she snapped as she poked at Ariel’s head. “Who’s the one who got you this job? You should be much more grateful than you are.”
“Look, all I am saying is that you should take the opportunity if it’s right in front of you,” Ariel sighed. “At least he’s not running away from you. At least you have a chance to keep something before you lose it.”
“Is this about the whole thing with the principal again?”
Kris froze. What “thing” with the principal?
“Trust me Ariel, Yi Zhen calmly said. “Nothing is going to happen to Kris. Social Services aren’t going to bust in through the doors and take Kris away from you. I mean she did one thing that was extremely, extremely awful and dangerous but I think if there was actually a fire, she would have done the right thing.”
“You didn’t hear about the latest didn’t you,” Ariel laughed. “She super-glued the alarms shut after she pulled them.”
Oh, geez…will this whole fiasco never stop haunting her, Kris thought to herself? And who were these ‘social services’? Taking her away from her mother? HA! Never. And it dawned on her. These people knew superman was her father! This was all a hoax to take her away! ‘Social Services’ probably planned the whole ‘fire’ ordeal and set her up! Now she understood everything. She had to warn Joey, but how?
“I‘m just afraid Kris will do something so crazy, something we can’t even imagine out of nowhere and she’ll be gone. I know she means well but…but she doesn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“So why don’t you sit the girl down and talk to her like an adult? I’m sure she’s smart enough to understand what kind of pickle she’s in if you told her about social services coming along and taking her away from you if she doesn’t behave.”
“You think I haven’t thought about that?” Ariel vehemently argued back. “I’m…I’m just afraid, that once I tell her social services might be involved, she’ll stop functioning. She’ll stop helping people, she’ll stop wanting to do anything because she’s too damn scared that I might leave for whatever reason. I don’t want her to not help the old man to cross the street because something she might never see me again. I don’t want her to stand idling by if there is a fire and she won’t pull the alarm because social services will be watching her every move.”
“But if she doesn’t know at all, who knows what might happen?” Yi Zhen softly said, as she gave a small sigh. “At least if you tell her, she could be a bit more cautious and choosy about what she does. She’s a lot tougher and stronger than you give her credit for. And she knows what’s right from wrong.”
Meanwhile in the terminal, Joe, Mike and Jiro were getting ready for their trip to sunny California; their first trip to America. Again, the herd of fawning women followed their every move but now with Robbie and Rainie by Mike’s side, and Ella by Jiro’s, only Joe was bombarded.
“Thanks, a lot guys,” Joe sarcastically rolled his eyes. “Ok, enough, we have to get on board.”
“Wait, wait,” Robbie whined. “I wanna say bye to daddy!”
Mike lifted Robbie off his feet and gave him a tight hug. They looked like a real family, with Rainie there by Mike’s side, ready to burst into tears at any moment. Mike finally let go of Robbie and planted a kiss on Rainie as he said goodbye.
“I’ll only be gone for the weekend,” he sweetly and softly hushed at Rainie.
Jiro smiled and shook his head at the sight of Mike and quickly turned to Ella.
“I’ll be back before you know it and I’ll come back with presents,” he cheekily said to her.
“You better,” she responded by poking his nose. “When you come back, there will be something for you too.”
“I can’t wait,” he smiled as he gave her a kiss of her own.
Disgusting, Joe thought. Nauseating, perhaps. All the love was making him sick to his stomach and only thought of one thing; if only he had her. Shaking his head clear, Joe stared reality right in the face and headed inside the terminal. Throughout the flight, Joe had thought about the sadness the world had provided for him on a silver platter; even after 7 years, he still couldn’t have the love he desired for. He didn’t necessarily need one either but it would still be nice to have someone to come home to. It had been way too long since his last relationship. 7 whole years he waited. But was he waiting for someone new to come to him, or someone old to return? Either way, he had been turned down.
Finally arriving at California, Joe took a cab to his motel, where all the pilots stay over as Mike and Jiro went sightseeing and acted as if they were damn tourists. Sure, they were tourists, but they still didn’t need the 5 cameras, knee long khakis and Hawaiian t-shirts. After arriving in the hotel, Joe dropped his luggage on the floor and rushed over to the restroom to wash the tiredness off his face. Opening the medicine cabinet, Joe places his toothbrush and supplies into the cabinet. With his head over the faucet, Joe brushed a bit of water over his brow and gave a deep sigh. He took out his sleeping pills and popped one in his mouth. Still woozy from the jet lag, Joe stumbles his feet over to the bed, and gets the shock of his life.
There it sat; all high and proud, digging its dirty feet into the covers and making itself warm in his new bed. It was small and fragile and he never expected to have seen one of these in his hotel room.
“Hi Joey, ‘bout time you got here.”
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