A delayed flight is the last thing one wants to experience.
Agnes pulled the last sheet of tissue from its package to wipe the remaining teardrops on her face. Her eyes stung and her throat parched. She didn't know how long she had been crying, for it had felt like forever. Fatigue, hunger, and sleepiness drained her will to live. Agnes wanted nothing more than hot food and soft beds rather than 6 hours sitting at the airport. Maintenance issues they said. Pre-flight inspections they said. She wondered if her days couldn't be worse than this.
This place is cursing me, Agnes checked her watch only to find out she still had four more hours in lethargy. No entertainment, no company, and no energy. How about food? Surely the airport restaurants weren't half bad as their notoriously high markups for a salad and coffee. However, the only thing that she had an appetite for was cigarettes.
Half the time, she had been going back and forth to the smoking room, finishing her last pack of sadness. She's not even a chain-smoker. Yet, she needed more. Not too much, but enough to make her breath caught in her throat, for she'd like to never breathe again.
Squeezing her nose, she choked back the remaining of her tears. Her brain kept replaying frame by frame of what'd been happening in the past 48 hours, filming a set of memories she wished she never had.
She still remembered clearly when Tina, one of her bridesmaids, helped to zip up the lily white wedding dress of hers. More precisely, was supposed to be hers, since she's not the bride anymore. Agnes knew Eric Ferrer didn't ask to be forgiven, nor forgotten. But leaving her on the altar, after spending months planning the wedding, moreover, two years in the relationship, finally enlightened her on whom he actually was.
Eric just left. No letters, no text messages, no explanation, no apology. "I thought he's going to the altar right after I fixed his tux!" 17-year-old Eva Ferrer, the groom's little sister, panicked and confused like everyone else.
What is this? Some kind of a joke? Some kind of cliche melodrama on TV shows? Agnes had hoped that this was just one of Eric's funny pranks, a way to spice up a ceremonious wedding with boring traditions. However, he never showed up. It's as if he's gone with the wind, leaving no ashes behind.
The love of his life, he said. The only one he wanted to be with, he said. The missing piece of his puzzle, he said. All promises, plans, and hopes, drowned among every tear of her grieving heart.
That night, the world had to witness Agnes fall on her knees, wishing upon the stars to hear her pleas.
Agnes lifted her head, breaking the vivid sequences as she heard a soft voice directed at her. A young woman, probably around her age, was holding a cup of coffee with a concerned look. Perhaps she's lost. But most likely she's just like another 52 passengers of DY-323 who needed an explanation for the flight delay.
"Yes?" her voice raspy and rough. Agnes lifted her chin up, clearing her parched throat. Her voice didn't come out as nicely as she wanted.
"I was wondering if...I can sit beside you?"
Agnes glanced around; plenty of empty seats everywhere. It's not like she didn't want to be near any human, but she wondered why this woman wanted to spend hours near a depressed-looking thing like her. A starved and sleep deprived person wasn't exactly a pleasant company to be with.
"Uh, yeah, sure, I guess?"
Muttering her gratitude, the woman immediately took a seat and adjusted her sling bag, making herself comfortable. Agnes thought she looked like her twin of some sort. They had similar hair color and almost the same height. She also owned tiny freckles just like her. The only difference was that Agnes' skin was way paler than this woman.
Having realized she was being observed, the woman finally introduced herself.
"I'm sorry we haven't formally known each other," she stretched out her hand "my name is Sarah. It's nice to meet you."
"Agnes. Likewise." She shook her hand.
"Such a long delay, huh. I wonder what happened."
"I know. Sucks, right?" Agnes smiled bitterly. For a moment their eyes met for a few seconds, getting drawn to each other's pair. She found out that Sarah's orbs were grayish hue, unlike her dark brown ones. A giggle escaped Sarah's lips, ending the staring contest.
"Want to get some coffee?"
At first, she wasn't interested in having a small talk with fellow passengers, let alone making friends and having lunch like this. But Agnes thought that it's much better than being all alone, endlessly mourning for something irreversible. Also, the pastries in airport's coffee shop were surprisingly palatable. She thought she could use some tiny distractions.
"I'm a psychiatrist, just finished my work in this country so I have to return back home." Sarah buttered more cream cheese on her bagel.
"Oh, so you're not...from this country too?"
Sarah's eyes gleamed in surprise.
"No way." She put down her cake fork, "You too? What a coincidence! I came from down under."
"Wow, hello fellow countryman!" This time, it's Agnes who's surprised. She laughed shortly. Sarah's frequent grin was kind of contagious, she thought. It's not a creepy or menacing type; in fact, it's really sweet and heartwarming. Agnes couldn't help but smile as well.
"So what are you doing here, Agnes?"
"Well, I..." the former bride wasn't sure what to tell. However, seeing how friendly Sarah was, it might be harmless to spill the beans a little. But then again, that'd open the freshly gaping wound. Agnes hesitated while sipping her latte.
"Oh, that's okay if you don't want to talk about it." Sarah realized Agnes' face contorted in partial disdain. Her palm reached on Agnes' hand, showing a warm and comforting gesture, "Let's talk about something else."
"No, no. That's okay I guess..."
Sarah's fretful frown turned into a soothing smile, "You sure?"
"So, I...left my job as a caterer. I was about to move into this country and get married..."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Sarah."
"It's no problem. We both equally wanted the divorce. Hence I decided to quit my job here and return home. I miss my family as well."
Agnes listened to her carefully; she felt that she had things in common with Sarah more than she thought. It occurred to her that she wanted to know further about this person. Seemed like a failure in romance was not the only mutual thing they had.
Shifting closer, Agnes held Sarah's hand, showing a compassionate understanding. Now that they're back in the waiting room, it's easier for them to sit side by side, sharing stories and being physically close towards each other. They began to feel like close friends.
"Hey, Sarah?" Agnes softly called from the opposite end of the bench. From this angle, she could clearly see Sarah's figure that's busy reading something on her phone. Agnes began to think that this woman was quite attractive. Sarah looked smart with her secretary glasses. She also had high cheekbones and small yet full lips, completing her remarkable look.
Her life seems perfect. How come she fails her marriage? Agnes felt a minuscule spark of jealousy over her own failed wedding. When she realized there's no connection between one's well being over---what she yet believed in---love between two people, Agnes shook her head. Damn, I'm the worst.
Sarah giggled, "Are you bored?"
"You should get some sleep. I'll wake you up when it's time."
She wanted to talk more but her eyelids were getting heavy indeed. For the first time after what had felt like forever, Agnes breathed in ease. Talking her problems out and having a company was something she needed the most. She didn't know what would happen if Sarah didn't show up. A lot had been going through her mind and one of them was to die.
Agnes shuddered. She realized she didn't want to die. How could her mind harbored such thing?
What she thought there'd be nothing, turned out it's not so bad. When she came back, she'd still be having her parents, her brother, her dog Max, and her granny Susan. Agnes realized she still had people who loved her, whom she celebrated holiday together with, whom she lighted up the barbecue in the summer with.
When she thought about it that way, the world was still kind. Eric Ferrer was just a phase of unhappiness she had to get through, for her true happiness didn't lay on any man.
The true happiness lay within herself.
"Thank you, Sarah." Agnes muttered lightly, almost like a whisper.
"Hm? Did you say something?"
Thank you for talking to me.
Propping herself up with the makeshift pillow of her bag, Agnes gave up her restless days and finally drifted to a blissful sleep.
The first thing Agnes noticed when she woke up was the absence of Sarah's silhouette. There was no her belongings either. Toilet, maybe? Agnes scanned the whole waiting hall. Not a clue. Sarah was nowhere to be seen.
Agnes glanced at her watch: half an hour before boarding.
She'll come back anyways.
"Excuse me, Sir. Did you see a young woman, about this tall, glasses and all?" Ten minutes and no sign of Sarah still. Agnes couldn't help but feel a tad of emptiness. So she decided to ask a middle aged man reading magazine in front of her.
"Oh, the girl who's been with you?" he lowered his monthly MenTertainment. Agnes gave a silent nod.
"I think she left an hour ago. I don't know. Was it her? Was it-"
"Thank you, Sir." Agnes' impatience grew as nobody seemed to have an idea. So she stood up and decided to look around herself.
Putting on her parka, Agnes made sure she got nothing left scattered around; phone, pair of earphones, small music player, not to mention her wallet and pass. She's indeed that neat.
Once she took out her boarding pass from her pocket, Agnes realized there were two pieces of paper. Turns out it was another boarding pass. Her eyes widened in confusion as she read the name written above.
Sarah Johnson! Agnes' hands were shaking in confusion. Why would she be leaving her boarding pass here? Let alone disappeared in the first place? Is she going back? Is she withdrawing from her flight? Agnes hurriedly went to the information center near the security check. Had Sarah gone out leaving her pass, she wouldn't be able to return to the check-in desk. With her chest heaving, Agnes tried to show the pass.
"I'm sorry, I found this. Can you call the person who owned it?"
The man behind the desk furrowed his brows when he read carefully the data printed on the paper.
"Are you sure Ma'am?"
"Yes, I am!"
The man's look on his face as if he'd seen a ghost. He hesitated to speak but seeing Agnes' determined seriousness, he couldn't help but comply.
"This...flight is non-existent, Ma'am."
Agnes' mouth gaped in shock.
"What do you mean it's nonexistent?!" she didn't need any jokes right now. Was Sarah pranking her to make her laugh? If anything, she was getting pissed off instead.
"You see." he pointed on the pass "the airline is confirmed and the date is today. However, DY-005...it's..."
"Oh My God, the year is 2013!" Agnes yelped, noticing the numbers.
"Yes, Ma'am. How did you get this pass? This flight is..." the man paused,
"The plane was the one that crashed and lost in 2013." A woman in her forties appeared, a fellow passenger who had been standing behind Agnes, listening to the commotion.
Agnes felt her knees weak.
"It was all over the local and national news. We mourned our families, friends, and colleagues. I lost my son in that accident."
"I...I'm sorry..." Agnes' mind was still in a hazy mush, unable to think clearly. All she had in mind was Sarah.
"The accident was exactly three years ago this day, if you take a look at the calendar. I was glad the rescue team could find my son's body. He came home...in parts." Agnes could see tears dwelled on her eyes as she reminisced.
"But they couldn't find the other eight people, thus declared dead."
"That's...that's just horrible. I'm really sorry for what you've been through."
"It's over. It's just part of my nightmares now."
"I still couldn't believe she did this. Was this some kind of prank then?" Agnes showed the woman Sarah's pass. She shrugged,
"I don't know. Could be." The woman stood up and walked away. "Nice meeting you, lady."
Agnes immediately took out her phone and started looking for a Wi-Fi connection. Once getting a signal, she started to browse around the local news regarding the tragedy. Reports on chronology, explanations, testimonies, theories, Agnes skipped them all. There's one thing piqued her interest the most: the list of missing persons.
With her heartbeat drumming madly, she opened up the article and began reading carefully.
Robyn Lee, Tara Sanders, Isabel Adams, Jamal Kennard, Victoria Nguyen...
There. Just like Agnes' thought.
Her body shook in fear and anticipation as she started reading the sub links of articles under 'Sarah Johnson'.
That's her picture. That was her, the same person who just sat beside her hours ago. The same person who made her day, after all crazy things that had happened and made Agnes want to kill herself.
'...as her family allegedly reported. Her ex-husband, Eric Ferrer, confirmed that...'