“Jess, you’ll miss your flight.” I peel myself away, avoiding meeting his eyes because my own are still devastatingly dry, and lug my pack into the line for security.
The waiting area is enclosed by wall to wall windows, so there is still another ten or fifteen awful minutes where I can see them all standing there, collars up against the cold night air as they wave and press their faces against the glass, leaving dragon breath marks that obscure their view, eyes following my every step as I stand in line with some unheard of level of composure.
You’re leaving your family, I tell myself, again wishing tears would stream down my cheeks so they would have some idea how much they mean to me. They’ve all come to see you off, and you can’t even manage one tear. What a heartless bitch.
One last glance up and I finally meet his eyes, that should have done it really, he looks like a puppy that’s been told he can’t sit on the couch. No. Actually, he looks like someone saying goodbye to someone they love, knowing the chances of meeting again in person are slim. Still, as I hand my passport to the guard, finally stepping out of sight, I even manage a smile. What is wrong with you?
I walk through the dusty halls to the departure lounge, boarding pass and pillow in hand, looking for a place to wait. It’s pretty crowded even for the red hour flights departing this late, so I end up perched on a window sill where I figure at least I can pass the time by staring outside.
Then it hits me. Finally.
It was the night that did it. Isn’t it always the smallest things that mean the most. This is the last time I’ll look out into the same night as them. The tears finally come and they did so without reserve. I sat alone, with no one to hold me and tell me they’ll miss me too, as the sobs racked my body and the tears I’d wished for flowed down my face and soaked my scarf.
I would see them again, I’d talk to each of their miniature two dimensional selves over a pixelated and delayed video call and I’d receive and reply to messages in conversations out of sync due to the distance. Of course we’d ‘keep in touch’… but I wouldn’t ever share the same sky, the same day or night as them, and that’s what catches the breath in your throat, tightens your chest and leaves you sobbing and crying to a window pane in the middle of a crowded departure lounge in the middle of the night.