He couldn’t let it end this way, he couldn’t let her go. He realized that now, but was it too late? He looked at his watch: forty minutes. Forty minutes until the love of his life was to board the plane that would carry her out of his life for good. Everything around him stopped. Forty minutes. A thirty minute drive to the airport. Could he make it? He took a deep breath. Yes. Yes he could do it. For true love he was willing to break a few traffic regulations. With a sudden determination in his hurried steps and butterflies dancing around in his stomach he grabbed the keys from the table and rushed out to his car.
Seven minutes. That’s how much time he had left to find her when at long last he arrived at the crowded terminal after breaking every speed limit and carelessly double parking just outside the gates. He almost panicked as he ran towards the departure lounge, all the time scanning the crowds for a familiar face. What if she had already boarded? They’d never let him aboard the plane to talk to her.
He cursed himself again and again. He should have known how it must have looked to her, he should have never let her drive away in tears before explaining the situation. It had all been a terrible, terrible misunderstanding. The other woman had been his sister, come home from Rome and living with him in secret in order to avoid her abusive ex-husband. The ring had been an heirloom from their mother, that he had been asked to pass on to her daughter. But how should she have known? She had been hurt before, he should have been more careful. He should have been less stupid, he should have…
And that’s when he saw her, on her way to the shortening line to the check-in desk. She wiped at her eyes with a white napkin and her makeup was all smudged across her cheeks. And even so, in that moment she was more beautiful than he had ever seen her. He stopped, completely taken by the sight of her.
He called her name across the room, and she slowly raised her head and met his eyes. For a moment time stood still. He tried to catch his breath, thoughts and fears running rampant through his head. He wanted to explain, to tell her everything, to make her understand.
”Will you marry me?”, he called instead. The room went completely silent. Her eyes widened, tears still trickling down her cheeks. Then a smile started spreading across her face, and she dropped her bag to the floor.
On board flight FR 5992 people had settled in their seats and were now waiting for departure. They were running late, very late in fact.
”We’re still waiting for a booked passenger”, the stewardess informed Chad Stirling as he asked for the fourth time when they would actually leave. He was impatient, he had a places to be and people to meet. The parcel hidden in his left shoe would have to be delivered to the right people in the Madrid airport within the next three hours, if he wanted to keep his head. They were the kind of people who didn’t wait. Chad Stirling was starting to sweat. He was afraid now, really afraid.
Thirty minutes later they still hadn’t lifted.
”We’re terrible sorry for the inconvenience”, said the flight crew as they handed out free lunch packages and coupons to the increasingly frustrated passengers. ”We’re still not done with the boarding.”
Rosa Hertz tried again to call her ex-husband. Their daughter Adella was seven years old and her plane was probably halfway to the Madrid airport by now. Rosa was supposed to pick her up there in ninety minutes, and then go with her to visit the girl’s grandparents. Adella’s father had put her on the plane, but now she was Rosa’s responsibility. She got not answer. There was no way they would arrive on time. What would happen to Adella?
”The crew is going through the plane’s storage area to remove any luggage belonging to the missing passenger. We calculate being able to lift in approximately twenty minutes. We are terribly sorry for any inconveniences caused, and of course you will all be appropriately compensated for the delay.”
Eighty minutes late, is this a joke? Marcie Dew took a deep breath and struggled to keep her composure. She ran on a tight schedule and couldn’t afford to miss this meeting. She cursed the firm for not affording her a more reliable flight. This commission of trust was supposed to be her way to the top, and now she would probably miss her chance. She would sue these motherfuckers for everything they owned, that was for sure. She just hoped she would still be able to afford it after botching this important negotiation. She leaned back in her seat and struggled to stay calm.
When the plan finally took to the air it was almost two hours late.
Hans Johnson missed out on the birth of his first child. Felicia Rowan didn’t make it in time to say goodbye to her dying mother. Mr. and Mrs. Greenhill missed their connecting flight to Florida where their daughter was getting married the next day. Charlotte Mackey failed to deliver the confidential documents to her contact in Spain, resulting in the secret inter-work between MI6 and CNI being disrupted. Chad Stirling was found dead in a Barcelona gutter later that night, shot through the back of his head while trying to escape an unknown assailant.
Not to mention the general bad mood that was generated by the delay, and which spread like wildfire as the passengers of flight FR 5992 disembarked in Madrid and went their separate ways around Spain.
”Yes!”, she laughed and threw herself into his arms. ”Yes, I’ll marry you.”
And as they embraced there on the departure lounge floor, people started clapping. First slowly, then faster and faster until a storm of applause surrounded them. They both laughed as they kissed, forgetting all about the world around them.
”I’m sorry”, he whispered as he hugged her tightly. He would never let her go again.
”It is I who should be sorry”, she said. ”I should never have doubted you.”
And they took each other’s hands and left the airport together, forgetting all about the plane and the bag and the worries that now lay behind them.
And they lived happily ever after.