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Us Against the World

Far away from the existence of where cities destroyed the landscape of mother Earth and paved their way for a more metropolitan lifestyle, lived a small town on the outskirts of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan called Caoya. The town consisted of no more than perhaps a couple thousand people, all very distinct and idiosyncratic in their own unusual way. They lived a bit more rurally than many other suburban towns that surrounded the premises but all the while, it maintained a solid foundation. There was a small church, a townhouse, a school, a transit bus system, a hospital and of course townspeople.

There was Old Man Abe, for example; the first person anyone would ever meet if ever they step a foot into town. He worked in a hardware store for 30 years and lived upstairs in his loft. He was in his late 60’s but talked as much as a 15 year old girl. Give the man some attention and he’d talk the ear off the offender. If ever he be given a question about any of the people that had passed by, didn’t matter if it were 3 days ago or 3 years ago, he’d recall it instantly and tell it like a professional story teller. “I don’t remember faces, names or even facts I learned in school, but I know events,” he’d yammer on. That was his favorite (and perhaps the first) saying of them all.

Then there was Aunt Sally; she was the town gossip which coincidently meant she was everyone’s best friend, which meant she was like that crazy aunt that comes to visit and she just won’t leave. Hence…Aunt Sally. Besides the fact that she was the town gossip she just happened to be president of the PTA of the only school in the town; thus controlling the lives of not only children but parents. Seeing as this was such a small town where everyone knew everybody, and everybody was married and had kids, Aunt Sally controlled everyone. With her power and her throne, no one could escape secrecy.

Besides Abe and Sally, the town as well as the entire town was known for Cianjhen Harbor, one of the largest fish markets in Taiwan. Every year the town would celebrate the Harbor and its success with a grand talent show, displayed by the local school and end in a Formal Ball. The biggest and largest grand Ball the town ever held. Every year the children and their parents, as well as the elderly, married couples without children, teenagers with their high school sweethearts, and other affectionate groups of people gather to the ball and pray for another year’s success and commemorate the Harbor.

Most years are fun and most years are memorable, but there was one mother and child who never went. The mother’s name was Ariel Lin and that was all she knew. She had come to the town, about 7 years ago with two things; a small infant the size of a loaf of bread and motivation. The town’s hospitality that year left a considerable amount of influence on the mother and her newborn which led her to never to go back to where she started. However the mother never intended to stay at the town neither. She wanted a better life for her child which meant for her to work in a better community. So everyday, Ariel would wake up early in the morning to get ready for a 2 hour bus trip to Kaohsiung International airport of Taiwan.

Today would be the end of her first week working in the airport as a baggage handler. Besides the local jobs she would find at Caoya, this job would be the best job for her under her conditions. She didn’t have a higher education but she knew how to work and that was all it took to be a part of the staff.

As she walked into the terminal, the same terminal that she had been working at for a couple days now, Ariel breathes in another day and exhales her troubles away. She had many jobs before, but nothing that was anything permanent. This job however, was supposed to be permanent. It was time that she stuck to something that can ensure her life of something other than just a paycheck.

Even as she walks in the airport at 7 in the morning, life had already began; restaurants had already been through the early bird hustle and bustle, passengers ready for their departure, relatives, loved ones crying their eyes out and of course the score board. Actually it’s just the destination board or more commonly called the Flight information board. It’s a disturbingly large digital board that gives the time, and direction of each flight. Ariel calls it the score board because she counts how many times a day the airport delays or cancels a flight. It amuses her that destiny can be changed within the second that board flips the word “on time” to “delayed” or worse “canceled.”

“The score board,” she smiled. “I wonder how many lives will change today.”

As she continued walking, she made her way to the offices in the back where ALL the action is. A few women and men gathered next to the lockers and prepared another day of loading and unloading the luggage of millions of strangers.

“Another day,” her co-worker chanted. “Another long day patrolling the mean streets of the baggage belt!”

“Well I see you’re having a good morning Cai Yi Zhen! I’m glad this is only my first week!” Ariel laughed as she looked at her co-worker’s stack of early morning fuel, complied mostly of donuts and instant coffee. “I only have a few things to do!”

“Hey Ariel, I got some good news today! You want to hear??” Yi Zhen whispered.

“What?” Ariel wondered suspiciously as she closed in to the conversation.

“I heard a couple of new flyers have been hired!” she excited revealed.

“Flyers?” Ariel asked a bit confused. “I didn’t know we needed new pilots? Why did we hire more?”

“Because we’ve been given more! What’s more to say?” her co-worker laughed. “More eye candy for us workers in the side…ah, it’s truly fate!”

“Hmm…” Ariel hummed as she rolled her eyes. “Hey, did you check for any openings at the ATC?”

“Air Traffic Control? HA!” her co-worker scoffed. “You’ve only been working for less than a week and you’re already ditching me! How rude! And to think I was the one who got you the job! You know how much education and training you have to get just to start off as GROUND CONTROL!?? Please! Just be happy where you are.”

“Ay!” Ariel winced. “Don’t remind me! So, have you talked to Calvin yet?”

“SHHHH!” Yi Zhen hushed at her. “Don’t remind ME about that! I haven’t gotten the nerve yet.”

“Or the right scent,” Ariel winced once more as she took a whiff of her friend’s staggering perfume.

“You don’t like it?” Yi Zhen pouted. “I paid good money for this!”

“Send it back with a demand for a refund, dear!” Ariel laughed as she slammed her locker shut.

As the day goes by, another dull day seemed to be the fate of this airport. It was 3 o’clock and it was time for Ariel to pick up her daughter. Taking a turn to look at the score board, she sees 4 flights are delayed and 2 are canceled while the rest are on time.

“6,” Ariel counted. “4 destinies delayed, 2 canceled.”

When Ariel finally made her way to the elementary school her daughter attends, she makes her way straight to the administration office. The first person whom she encountered was her daughter’s teacher, Ella Chen.

“Ariel!” Ella called out. “You’re here kinda early. Normally she has to wait a good hour before you came!”

“I know,” Ariel gasped for air. “I thought I would be a bit early today.”

“I can see that,” Ella laughed. “How’s work anyways?”

“It’s been good,” Ariel smiled weakly as she prepared her question. “How’s my daughter been? Still giving you grief?”

“She’s been good!” Ella nodded. “More behaved but still offers the same amount of comic relief.”

“Ohh,” Ariel groaned. “I’m sorry, I told her to cut it out!”

“It’s ok,” Ella pacified. “I don’t think I’ll ever tire of her alphabet one.”

Ariel cringed at that. She knew her daughter was a hooligan but that didn’t mean her daughter had to give the teacher a hard time every single day and be sent to the principal’s office. I mean she was only 7!

“Why is the alphabet in that order?” Ariel recited as if she knew exactly what her daughter’s joke was.

“Is it because of that song?” Ella and Ariel said together.

“That’s my joke!” pouted a small voice at the side of the office.

“There she is,” Ariel pointed to her daughter. “The comic of the hour.”

“MOMMY!” the tiny bundle of joy screamed to her mother.

The girl, with the pokemon backpack, ran towards her mother and locked her body onto Ariel’s hip. She had the same exact smile as her mother and Ariel would always give in to that brilliant smile.

“OOf,” Ariel gasped at the sudden collision. “Thanks for that.”

“NO PROBLEMO!” her lovely daughter smiled.

“Say bye bye to Ms. Chen,” Ariel nodded her head to Ella.

“Bye Ms. Chen!” she excited waved goodbye.

With her daughter still wrapped onto her pelvic area, Ariel moved one leg at a time towards the door hoping not to fall over.

“Bye Ariel!” Ella waved. “And I’ll see you tomorrow, Kris!”



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