By the time Margot and Adam were making small talk at a hightop table at a nondescript airport bar, she felt like she would either cry or scream if she heard one more person complain.
A frantic woman barreled toward the bar, her dragged carryon bag careening off Margot’s legs. She barked an order at the bartender and returned to loudly outlining the situation into a phone tucked beneath her chin.
“I know tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, mom! We had plenty of time to get to your house, but I can’t make the planes fly into a blizzard,” she said. “Yes, we’re keeping an eye on the flights and maybe we’ll get to you by tomorrow. Oh, mom. This isn’t Jack’s fault. We agreed we weren’t going to take the kids out of school early this year.
Despite her bruised shins, Margot sympathized, even more so when an equally frantic man and three young children tumbled into the bar and made a beeline for the woman. A pang of loneliness hit when she saw the couple’s eyes meet. The woman handed her husband one of the two cocktails she’d ordered, and his rolled eyes seemed to release some of the tension in her shoulders.
“I can’t think of much worse that being stranded in an airport with a bunch of kids,” Adam said, sipping his beer as the family retreated to one of the tables in the corner. Backpacks and bags crowded together under the small table, but Margot thought the woman seemed at least a few degrees less frazzled since she’d been joined by her family.
“At least they’re together,” Margot said, ignoring the incessant vibration of her phone.
Adam laughed. “You might not think that in two hours when the kids are asking for their third round of overpriced airport snacks and their parents have a splitting headache from cheap cocktails.”
“Hey, you don’t know that they’re drinking cheap cocktails,” Margot said, unsure why she felt she had to defend a family whose mother had rammed a suitcase into her legs without so much as an apologetic smile.
“Trust me. No one flying coach with three kids is drinking expensive cocktails,” Adam said. “When my ex and I used to travel with our son, we’d try to figure out how many of the cheap airport bottles of booze we could drink before one of us needed a nap.”
Margot felt a little sting at the ease with which he mentioned an ex-wife and a son. She’d noticed the lack of a wedding ring when he’d commented on hers, but with her own concerns with her marriage at the forefront of her thoughts, she’d simply assumed unmarried bachelor. She felt as though a divorce should leave tendrils of shadow on one’s self. Adam’s easy demeanor didn’t reflect any of the pain she’d been feeling the last few months.
“I’ve never flown with children,” Margot said, mostly because she couldn’t think of anything else to say. She resisted the urge to pick up her phone to check who’d been calling, fairly certain it was her mother, who managed to keep track of all of Margot’s flights almost as well as Margot’s infallible calendar system.
“But you fly a lot,” Adam said, referencing her earlier description of her job.
“For now,” Margot said.
“You mentioned that, but didn’t elaborate,” he said. “Are you getting out of the training business?”
Wine and low lighting loosened her tongue. “I’m getting out of the marriage business,” she said.
“Really?” His raised eyebrows invited her to keep talking.
“Vance and I seem to have a difference of opinion about the lifestyle we want to lead,” Margot said. “I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
“What do you think you’ll do instead?” Adam asked.
Margot blinked, then stalled. “I wasn’t aware I signed up for a career counseling session,” she said.
“Well, I did mention I worked with high schoolers, right? Guidance counselors apparently don’t take a Christmas break.”
Scenes flashed through Margot’s head. She’d been working the professional angles with Vance for so long that she could easily spout off sound bites about doing training for other companies or working with conference centers to set up professional conventions. Truly, though, she’d pictured their lives after selling the company from a more personal angle: lazy weekends checking out the wineries along the Niagara, a little boy with Vance’s shock of blond hair, dinners that didn’t come from a room service cart.
Ending her life with Vance meant the end of the company, which was a relief, but it meant the end of those dreams, too.
“I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do next,” Margot said. Needing something to do with her hands, she picked up her phone and scrolled through the missed texts. Blood drained from her wine-flushed cheeks.
“Is everything ok?” Adam asked.
“It’s just that Vance is here. In the airport. His plane got diverted, too.”
…to be continued